PHOTO: Sacred Heart School in Monticello includes kids in grades kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as pre-school. The school will celebrate Catholic Schools Week Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, with school, family and community activities. (Photo submitted)
PHOTO: Sacred Heart sixth-grader Tommy Dirks works through a review math problem using the SMART Board. Fifth and sixth grade classrooms both have the boards, a gift from the school’s booster club and a grant from Theisen’s. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Sacred Heart School is gearing up to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 27 through Feb. 2.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards,” and Sacred Heart is doing just that. The school has seen increases in academic standards, focusing specifically on grades third and fourth. Third graders showed 92.4 percent proficiency in math and reading, while fourth graders showed 93 percent proficiency. Both grades also demonstrated 100 proficiencies in science.
“We strive to develop character and well-rounded, involved individuals with a commitment to community and service to others,” school officials said.
According to the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), “The 2013 theme supports the recent launch of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.”
The logo for this year’s theme shows “a chart of steady growth culminating in the highest achievement of all, a cross representing the faith that underscores all Catholic education.”
Sacred Heart School advocates an active partnership between home and school. Parents of Sacred Heart students feel a great sense of community and bonding.
During Catholic Schools Week, Sacred Heart School has a full week of activities planned for its students, families and the Monticello community:
• Monday, Jan. 28 – Bowling and “Crazy Hat Day”
• Tuesday, Jan. 29 – “Dress in the Dark Day” and kindergarten round-up parent meet at 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, Jan. 30 – Knights of Columbus Spelling Bee and “Pajama Day”
• Thursday, Jan. 31 – Parents’ Day with Mass at 10:30 a.m., “School Spirit Day” and “Business Appreciation Day”
• Friday, Feb. 1 – Swimming at Camp Courageous and “Favorite Team Day”
To show their appreciation towards the community, every year Sacred Heart sets a day aside as “Business appreciation Day.” Families send homemade goodies to school and students package and deliver them to businesses as a “thank you” for the support the school receives from local businesses and the Monticello community. In turn, Sacred Heart students participate in a number of community service projects throughout the school year, including: music and reading programs at Monticello Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; a food drive and Birthday Boxes for the food pantry; Valentine’s, Christmas and thank-you cards for veterans; clean-up at Riverside Gardens; raking yards for senior citizens; making centerpieces for Parish dinners and Lenten Rice Bowl Collections.
Sacred Heart serves students in grades kindergarten through sixth, as well as pre-school. The average class size is 15. The school notes that enrollment is not specific to Catholic families. “We welcome and have families from other faiths as well,” school officials said.
In a message from the Most Reverend Jerome Hanus, OSB Archbishop of Dubuque: “By virtually any standard or benchmark, our schools demonstrate how important they are to the future of our parishes and the Church. Students, working with a dedicated and committed school staff, are challenged to develop their God-given gifts in an environment where faith, hope and love are taught, emulating the teachings of Jesus Christ himself.”
In keeping with the theme of Catholic Schools Week, one way Sacred Heart School raises the standards when it comes to technology in the classroom is through the use of SMART Boards. Both the fifth and sixth grade classes are currently utilizing the Boards.
These high-tech, interactive whiteboards help improve education in the classroom. Using the Internet, computers and a simple whiteboard, teachers and students can expand education.
Sacred Heart sixth grade teacher Abby Morales said the use of SMART Boards is not only enhancing the students’ learning, but the teachers’ as well.
New to Sacred Heart this school year, the SMART Boards were possible through the school’s booster club and a grant from the Theisen’s store. School Principal said they hope to purchase two more Boards for the next higher grades next year.
Morales said using SMART Boards in the classroom has made teaching and learning fun for everyone. Everything is interactive, allowing the students to come to the Board, choose their favorite colored “pen” and proceed with the lesson at hand. In one particular lesson, the sixth graders were practicing math problems in preparation for a test. Morales had her students come to the Board, choose the color “pen” they wished and gave them a problem to demonstrate to the rest of the class. Without having to erase the actual whiteboard, the SMART Board makes lessons as easy as ever.
“The neat part about this technology is that the kids are more engaged because they are using technology,” said Morales. She said kids are already using tech devices at home and in their everyday lives, that SMART Boards are nothing different. “Sometimes the kids are even teaching me,” she said.
Morales said she finds her students more excited, more interested and more tuned into lessons in the classroom.
“Students are taking more ownership in their work and of learning,” Morales said.
She said every subject is possible with the SMART Board. “It actually replaces whiteboards.”
One great advantage to this technology is the database. Morales explained that she could log onto the SMART Board network and share and use other teacher’s SMART Board lessons from around the world! When studying ancient Egypt, Morales was able to download an interactive lesson from another educator, in which the students were typing their names using hieroglyphics.
The sixth graders also used the SMART Board to video chat with an archeologist in Guatemala studying the Mayan ruins and a friend of Morales’ in India.
“These are opportunities the students wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Morales. While the class could do the same on a computer, the SMART Board allows the students to interact with these people while sitting in their desks and watching them on the big screen.
“The technology keeps their attention,” Morales said.
The comments from the six-graders show just how beneficial the SMART Boards are: “The SMART Board is fun and easy to use and learn on. Now when it’s time to do a math problem on the SMART Board, everybody shoots up their hands! There are also little props we use on the SMART Board like graphs, rulers, pizzas for fractions and a lot more!”
“It helps me learn better. We can highlight things on websites. It makes learning fun.”
“I like the SMART Boards because if you sit in the back, you can see the board well because it’s bright. It works just like a computer.”