Program of Studies

 

At St. Dom's, we believe education provides an important foundation form the early beginnings as an elementary student all the way through high school preparing graduates for college and for life. Students learn to value academic success along with spiritual and social growth. This is accomplished through a comprehensive program under the guidance of faculty who set clear goals for achievement at all grade levels towards college preparation. Emphasis is placed on understanding basic concepts and developing good study habits, outreaching to the community and participating in organized athletic and social events.

 

St. Dom's academic program helps develop self-discipline, responsibility and study skills. Students engage with other classmates in a curriculum that includes courses in English, mathematics, social studies, modern language, science, fine arts, computer, health, physical education and Virtual High School. At the high school level, courses are offered at college prep, honors, and advanced placement (AP) levels. All students engage in religious studies. Structured classes facilitate instruction while permitting our experienced faculty to assess and respond to a student's individual needs and concerns.

 

 

Traditional Grading

 

Most people recognize that a student who boasts about earning an “A” means that a student did well on an assessment.  Traditional grading (0-100, A-F) provides a common language for teachers, students and parents to communicate student progress in school.  While many public schools have opted to remove traditional grades in favor of standards-based reporting, St. Dom’s has embraced mastery of standards while continuing the traditional form of reporting achievement and progress to students and parents.   

Common Core Standards have been the hot topic in education for several years.  St. Dom’s, as a private Catholic school, does not use Common Core Standards for curriculum.  Our standards come from The Archdiocese of Hartford in Connecticut.  They align with national standards and exceed the Common Core standards.  Our teachers are using those standards to drive the content and instruction in our classrooms. Our grading system reflects progress on our curriculum while maintaining the common language that parents and students understand. 

Standards-based reporting is a method for communicating a student’s progress on mastery of the curriculum.  While this is helpful information to have while monitoring student learning, it does not always provide an opportunity for teachers to assess items like work ethic, preparedness, classroom participation, and readiness.  One of the most useful benefits of traditional grading is that it holds our students accountable for curriculum AND for basic lifelong skills.  If students are to be prepared for the greater world, they must also be prepared for deadlines, job accountability, and being prepared for the working world on a daily basis.  Grading traditionally allows us to address all of those things.  St. Dom’s strives to educate mind, body, and soul – and using grades is one way that helps us to accomplish our goals while communicating with parents and students in a common language.  

 

Educating Generation Generation Z  

A New Way of Learning and Teaching

 

It used to be, if a student knew the three “Rs” of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, they were well on their way to success. But much has changed in the past 25 years. Generation Z (individuals born between 1996 and 2011) is the first generation that doesn’t remember life without the three “Ss” smartphones, social media and streaming networks.

“Our current student population has always had the internet and instant access to information,” said Shelly Wheeler, Principal at Saint Dominic Academy’s Auburn campus (grades 7-12). “Technology is at their fingertips and they use it for everything, from socializing to watching movies and doing homework - all at the same time. It makes sense that the best way to engage this generation of learners is through technology.”

While the three “Rs” remain vital to a quality education, St. Dom’s teaching methods have changed to keep up with the modern world and the learning style of this tech-savvy generation - interweaving traditional classroom techniques with technology.

“We use online programs to reinforce our teachers’ curricula,” said Marianne Pelletier, Principal at St. Dom’s elementary campus in Lewiston. “For example, a teacher will show students how to do a math problem, and then students will practice using fun and engaging math games online. Teachers can monitor each student’s activity and see where they are succeeding and where they might need extra instruction.” A survey done by Barnes and Noble College shows that Gen Zers are engaged learners who want to be part of the learning process. They want a full, hands-on education where class discussions and group projects take precedence over lectures and rote memorization.

“Today’s students really thrive in a collaborative environment,” said Pelletier. “Our 5th and 6th grade students worked together to describe what civilizations would be like on the moon and under the sea, then, they built prototypes of those colonies using 3D printers. That’s innovative thinking.”

The CAD lab at St. Dom’s Auburn campus is also a favorite among students. It’s often a hub of activity before and after school. Students are creating everyday items such as cell phone covers and combs. The robotics team members are

frequent visitors to the lab, making parts for their prototypes in preparation for their robotics competitions.

According to the Barnes and Noble survey, middle and high school aged Gen Zers value a good education and how it will secure their place in the future. At the high school level, St. Dom’s offers courses at college prep, honors, and advanced placement (AP) levels. In addition, hundreds of courses are available online and students are taking advantage of them.

According to Wheeler, Gen Zers want a learning environment that isn’t confined to the classroom. They want online access to courses 24/7. “Students want classes that they can complete around their schedules,” said Wheeler. “They are also eager to take courses to earn college credits while in high school to reduce the cost of college. We are working on opportunities to make this happen."