Scholarship In Christ
"The Church’s involvement in the field of education is demonstrated especially by the Catholic school. No less than other schools does the Catholic school pursue cultural goals and the natural development of youth. But it has several distinctive purposes. It aims to create for the school community an atmosphere enlivened by the gospel’s spirit of freedom and charity. It aims to help the adolescent in such a way that the development of his/her own personality will be matched by the growth of that new creation which he/she became by Baptism. It strives to relate all human culture eventually to the news of salvation, so that the light of faith will illumine the knowledge which students gradually gain of the world, of life, and mankind.” (Declaration on Christian Education).
So it is in the whole document on Christian education, but especially in this paragraph, that St. Teresa educators discover the goals of their professional activity in education. They see it as their duty to devise curricula programs and methods of administering them, which will have as their objective exactly those ideals of freedom, and charity of which the Declaration speaks.
St. Teresa of Avila School offers a strong traditional curriculum. In the “Continuous Growth Program” of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, students advance through a defined curriculum according to their individual needs and abilities. In addition to meeting all the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the curriculum gives special attention to the integration of Gospel values.
Curriculum Guidelines for all subject areas are utilized by the Catholic elementary schools and provided though the Department for Catholic Schools. The guidelines endeavor to give continuity to the teaching/learning process, and are geared to meet the individual needs of students and to guide the teaching/learning process.
All textbooks have been selected from the list of recommended texts devised by the Curriculum Directors of the diocese. They are approved because the philosophy is consistent with the Catholic philosophy of education, the subject matter is adaptable to the Continuous Growth Program and because there is sequential, consistent development of material.
A formal catechetical program is taught daily. The Diocesan Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines, “Growing in God’s Covenant,” contains a balance of doctrinal content, scriptural understanding, faith formation, and prayer and worship experiences. A variety of materials and resources are used to foster both spiritual growth and moral development.
Catechetics is the center of the Catholic school. A conscious effort is made to create a Christ-centered atmosphere by stressing Christian values in the classroom as well as throughout the school. A conscious effort is made to integrate catechetics into every aspect of the school curriculum. Our belief in Jesus has drawn us to this school community. Our beliefs are expressed and strengthened by daily communal prayer. Students develop skills and a love for the Church’s daily worship. Prayer includes a prayer service each morning with simple prayers before, and after lunch, and at the end of the day.
An introduction each morning briefly sketches the Saint, feast of the day, or some aspect of the liturgical season. Attention is also given to the seasons of the year, to the anniversaries of historical figures and peacemakers of our time, and to the civil holidays that have significance for our children.
Faith experiences are an integral part of catechetics. Opportunities for Eucharistic Liturgies, Reconciliation, Stations of the Cross, classroom prayer and service to others are to be included. Community is at the heart of Catholic education, not simply as a concept to be learned, but as a reality to be lived.
The principal, in conjunction with the Pastor and Director of Religious Education, works with the teachers in the religious development and sacramental preparation of the students. Parent preparation programs for Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation are held during the year. These are parish programs and involve all eligible children and parents of the parish.
As prescribed by the Diocese, St. Teresa has forged what we believe to be an excellent program of instruction in the use of computers. The computer program is all encompassing. Students learn how to use the computer as a tool. Application software in the areas of reading, creative writing, math, science and logic are offered to the students. Ongoing discussions occur concerning contemporary computer use as well as misuse. Guided use of the Internet is utilized to broaden students’ horizons.
Fine Arts (Music & Art Education)
Instruction in the Fine Arts contributes to the development of the whole person, promotes individual statement, allows experimentation with diverse materials and elements; enables exploration and appreciation of the works of other students and major artists; develops an awareness and sensitivity toward the environment; and finally, promotes a deeper understanding of heritage and culture. The Fine Arts curriculum provides a holistic approach to education, which incorporates many aspects of the core curriculum and can be integrated into the total education experience.
It is important that our students have an opportunity to learn about the arts, and to try to find their own individual ways of using them creatively. Increasingly, as students grow and progress in the ability to understand, the arts must play a major role as they contribute to the development of creative and critical thinking. A comprehensive program covers assessment of all four aspects of the arts: production/performance; history; criticism; and aesthetics.
The Music program also offers students in Grades 4-8 a choice of Instrumental Music Education.
The Elementary Language Arts Curriculum for the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been developed to enable each student to be introduced to language as a viable form of communication, as an invaluable skill, and an art to be enjoyed. English classes center on improving writing, grammar and speaking, as well as expanding vocabulary and improving spelling. Language, as a skill, provides the student with the important tools to speak fluently, to read and comprehend, to compose, to write legibly and to spell correctly. An awareness of the history of language and the continuous development of vocabulary are also important phases of skill development.
Students in Grades K-5 center on an integrated approach to Language Arts and developing the necessary skills essential for success, including phonetic skills of the student. Students in grades 6-8 learn an appreciation of literature with skillful authors who vicariously open new worlds of adventure of far off places, times long past, and modern trends of good reading. Having developed a love for good literature, this aesthetic element overflows into the student’s personal, oral and written statement.
In an age of "information explosion", it is the philosophy of this school library to provide the highest level of service. This is accomplished through appropriate and usefully organized collections, fair circulation and service policies, and skillful, accurate, unbiased and courteous responses to all requests for assistance.
We will continue to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our school will make certain that the children in our care have all the intellectual advantages the "New Wave of Knowledge" has to offer them. We will meet the demands of a vastly expanded school curriculum, while helping to plan better ways to offer our services to teachers and students. The librarian is responsible for planning with teachers to meld the textbook with resource-based instruction.
The school library exists primarily to support and enrich the curriculum. It is a service and teaching agency as well as a place of purposeful learning. Recently, two new computers with Internet access have been added to the Library and a computerized check out system is available.
The mathematics curriculum is designed to help students meet the mathematical needs of the present and future, to provide practice in logical reasoning, and to develop the ability to find patterns and recognize structure in mathematics. Basic facts are taught in the lower grades and must be memorized. Concepts are taught sequentially. In primary grades, students are introduced to many ideas that are the foundation to an understanding of algebra. Pre-algebra and Algebra are taught in the Seventh and Eighth grades. Students completing the algebra program successfully are often placed in advanced algebra/geometry programs as freshmen in high school.
Teachers promote problem solving skills and an exploratory inquisitiveness in all students to assure critical thinking skills. Cooperative learning in the classroom is essential to heighten student awareness in the value of working together in group situations, to strengthen communication skills in mathematics, and to promote a mathematically literate society.
A quality Physical Education program recognizes the value of teaching students to stay physically active and develop skills needed for present and future leisure. To achieve this goal, St. Teresa of Avila School incorporates the Department for Catholic Schools Curriculum, “Fit for Life” into the program. This program assists students in identifying their strengths, building on their strengths, and achieving personal goals. The health and physical education curriculum strives to establish healthy, active students so that each child can develop to his or her full potential. Students learn to respect the rights of others and to follow rules through games and to be physically active. Learning to constructively channel energies helps the student to develop a good self-image. The skills, habits and attitudes developed within the program provide opportunities for greater success in the students’ lives.
Health education, which leads to the total well being of each student, is the goal of the Diocesan “Health for Success” program. The program is a complete, comprehensive approach to developing our students physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. A health text, along with current periodicals such as “Current Health,” are used. Guest speakers are invited to speak to the students about various health related topics.
The Science curriculum is specifically designed to develop a student’s understanding of science in human experience and the individual’s role in the community and in society. Examples of scientific phenomena are explained and demonstrated. Students become scientists as they learn to understand and use the scientific method to organize ways to solve problems, and to seek the answers to the wonders of God’s world. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students study the basics of chemistry, biology and physical science with hands on participation in a science lab. The Seventh and Eighth grade students may take part in Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.
The Social Studies curriculum begins with an introduction to community helpers. It progresses to the study of family and friends, and later encompasses a more in-depth study of the community. Beginning in fourth grade, the curriculum focuses on the study of the land regions of the United States and Pennsylvania history. At the fifth grade level, United States history through the Civil War and a study of the United States geographical regions are covered. Sixth grade students study World Cultures and World Geography with an emphasis on the countries of the Eastern hemisphere. Seventh grade studies United States history to the Reconstruction and eighth grade studies United States history beginning with the Reconstruction to the modern day. Map and geography skills are taught at all levels. Values such as social justice, peace, cooperation between states and governments, and opposition to the “isms” such as racism, sexism, and materialism are integrated in the Social Studies program.
World Language (Spanish)
Language students learn the sounds and syntax of the language. Students are also introduced to culture. A variety of materials and methods are used for instruction. Students in grades K-8 receive instruction in Spanish each week. Students are working toward proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing of the Spanish language. Many students qualify for Spanish II as freshmen in high school.