“My Catholic school education helped me to discover my gifts and how they can be used to illuminate God’s glory through my vocation.” - Grace Kording, Catholic school graduate
A Catholic education is distinct in nature because it goes beyond academic excellence and includes the ideal goal of developing the spiritual dimension of every human being. Through the creation of elementary/middle school signature programs, students have the opportunity to explore interests outside of the basic curriculum.
A signature program integrates a specific focus or distinguishing theme with the skills, concepts, and instructional strategies that complement the basic curriculum. The theme or focus becomes the vehicle for teaching and provides students a fresh, interesting, and challenging academic experience. While each Catholic school develops supplementary programs to the basic curriculum, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has formally developed the following five signature program initiatives.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Program
The STEM instructional/curricular model has an increased emphasis on science and math and includes greater use of technology in the classrooms to inspire interest in STEM vocations. Through this instructional model, students will explore design concepts, develop adaptability, and learn how to embrace life’s greatest questions and challenges through creative solutions. STEM programs are found throughout many of our Catholic elementary and high schools.
In addition to the core STEM curriculum, 3D printing has been added as an activity to enhance instruction throughout many of our schools. On May 5, 2015, Archbishop William E. Lori held a press conference to announce an exciting new initiative that seeks to put a 3D printer in every Archdiocesan school. The initiative is made possible due to support from the Embracing Our Mission ~ Shaping Our Future capital campaign, a generous donation by Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Croteau, and our technology and curriculum partners, 3D Systems and STEAMTrax. 3D printing is considered a “game-changer” for schools with STEM programs, as they provide children with unparalleled access to innovative technology used by engineers, astronauts on the International Space Station, and medical professionals and scientists. Our students and schools will have access to this same technology and a curriculum that allows our students to become more ready every day for future discoveries and advances we have yet envisioned.
PRIDE is an innovative, K-8 Archdiocesan program designed to meet the needs of students who learn differently. Our students are of average to above average intelligence, with mild to moderate learning disabilities. The program is staffed by highly qualified special education teachers who design specific programs to meet the personal learning needs of each child. Small group sizes and modified curriculum for Language Arts and Math are hallmarks of the program. PRIDE programs are located regionally and offered at the following Catholic schools: St. Clement Mary Hofbauer (Rosedale), St. Mark (Catonsville), and St. John Regional (Frederick).
The Montessori Program is offered at St. Pius X School and provides children a different way to learn, one which combines all of the features of Montessori learning with our strong tradition of Catholic religious education. We partner with Loyola University, Maryland, who has one of the premier Montessori graduate programs in the country; and its Center for Montessori Education – Washington Montessori Institute — houses the oldest Association Montessori International (AMI)-accredited training center in North America.
The dual language program, also known as a dual-immersion program, focuses on English and Spanish and is currently in place at Archbishop Borders School in Pre-Kindergarten 3 through 2nd grades. Each year a new grade is added to the program with the goal of full dual-language instruction through the 8th grade, producing graduates who have fluency and literacy in both English and Spanish. Through a partnership with Boston College’s TWIN-CS program, Archbishop Borders proudly offers this two-way immersion curriculum to culturally and linguistically diverse students. To learn more about TWIN-CS, visit their website. Although dual language is only offered in the early grades, Spanish is taught as a core subject in grades 3 – 8.
Five schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore are designated as community schools: Archbishop Borders, Bishop Walsh, Cardinal Shehan, Ss. James and John, and Holy Angels Catholic School. A community school program has established partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus is on academics, services, supports and opportunities that lead to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.