St. Mary’s School began in Jacksonville over 150 years ago and our mission has never wavered: To prepare ethically-grounded students for success in life. Today, St. Mary’s offers 24 Advanced Placement courses, 100% of its students go to college, and 94% of those who enroll in college earn degrees, far outpacing the national average. In 2016, St. Mary’s won The Oregonian Cup as best school in the state for the sixth time in the last ten years. Yet in 2017, St. Mary’s is launching a new approach to educating our students called St. Mary’s 2.0. We’ve decided to tear down our curriculum, our calendar, our pedagogical approaches, and re-invent the school. Why?
The simple answer is that we know better nowadays what engages students and what makes them successful as human beings. Brain research, advances in psychological and behavioral studies, and research coming out of worlds as diverse as the armed forces and business schools all impugn current models of K-12 education. Proficiency-based state tests that attempt to measure a national skill set concocted by committee do not bode well for the success of our nation’s students. What does make for a successful human being? Here are some research-based factors:
IQ correlates closely to success on tests, not to success in life. “Learning Agility,” which is measurable, coordinates closely to success. High emotional intelligence, sometimes called EQ, correlates closely to success. Acknowledging, teaching to, and assessing students via what Harvard’s Howard Gardner identified in the 1980s as “multiple intelligences,” yields success and heightened engagement from students. Gardner identified eight equally valid intelligences: Linguistic; Logical-mathematical; Spatial; Bodily-kinesthetic; Musical; Interpersonal; Intrapersonal; and Naturalistic. Standardized testing inadequately measures just the first two: verbal and math. Giving students choice, autonomy, and a sense of purpose in their studies yields engagement, high levels of learning, and boosts intrinsic motivation. Finally, in a globalized economy, cross-cultural and international competency is a crucial element in setting students on a path towards not only personal fulfillment, but towards making a positive contribution to our world.
St. Mary’s 2.0, modeled upon a “module system” used by some of the nation’s best prep schools since the 1970s, comprises all of these success factors. Students take seven terms of 26 instructional days each, a 182-day school year. Between each term, students have mini-vacations ranging from four days off to a few weeks off to recharge. During a term, students take a deep dive into just three courses of their choice, with an additional 45-minute per day enrichment class that cannot assign homework. Students have well over 200 courses to choose from, including still a few dozen AP courses. Teachers carry just 36 students per term as opposed to teacher loads approaching 200 students in other schools. Every 26 days, students embark upon a new adventure with new courses, teachers and classmates. No two students’ schedules are identical. St. Mary’s 2.0 has been three years in the making and launches on August 23, 2017.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Naumes Vega, Director of Admission at 541-773-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.smschool.us/learn-more.