St. James School offers a well-rounded academic program that fully prepares students for high school and beyond. Our foundation is in the teaching of our Catholic faith in daily Religion classes. Students also participate in Math, Reading, English, Science, Social Studies, Art, Physical Education, Music, Technology, and Library.
As a Catholic faith community, St. James continues its rich tradition of teaching students to share the Gospel in a spirit of faith, hope, and love. The study of Catholicism plays an integral part in the fabric of the curriculum through its content, but also by the practice of living Christian values enabling students to develop a personal relationship with God. The school community attends mass weekly and prays together daily. Students take an active role in the faith life by serving as lectors, choir members and cantors, ushers, and servers during masses. Eighth graders serve as prayer leaders for all classrooms throughout each school year. Sacramental preparation programs exist in second and seventh grades.
Using the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Principles and Standards and Common Core Standards, St. James has created a rigorous math program. Students are ability grouped allowing teachers to meet individual student needs through differentiated instruction. Patterns, measurement, algebra, geometry, data analysis, and probability are taught at every grade level. Ultimately the math program develops students’ problem solving skills enabling them to compute, reason, and communicate logically in mathematical terms.
St. James School uses a phonics-based, skills-driven reading curriculum that incorporates a progression from basic word recognition to literal and inferential meaning, and culminating with critical and analytical interpretation skills. Students are ability grouped within a self-contained classroom in grades 1-2 and tracked in grades 3-8. Students who perform below grade level are placed in smaller classes for more individualized instruction and utilize the assistance of intervention specialists. Students above grade level in grades 4-6 have the opportunity to participate in the Accelerated Language Arts Curriculum Program. Our textbook series is multi-leveled and features an excellent redundancy of reading and phonetic skills. In grades 7 and 8 the textbooks change to a more literature based approach to reading, which reviews basic skills and stresses critical and analytical thinking skills. Selected texts have a balance of fiction, nonfiction, and multicultural literature. Phonics books and/or vocabulary books (assigned by ability levels) are integral to our program. In-class novel reading programs with teacher-led discussions and classroom activities exist in grades 4-8, providing regular opportunities for students to respond through discussion, writing, and other creative expressions. The Accelerated Reading Program is utilized at all levels for independent reading practice and development. Students are assessed multiple times throughout the year to determine reading ability and are assigned books within their individual zone of proximal development. Students are able to progress to increasingly more difficult texts as their comprehension skills develop. Students are encouraged to spend approximately fifteen minutes each day for sustained silent reading.
Teachers have found over time that a combination of vocabulary skills development, independent reading, and ability grouped reading classes have produced positive results in developing reading comprehension and word attack skills.
This curriculum focuses on mastery of fundamental grammar rules to improve written and oral communication skills. Grammar skills are not taught in isolation; rather the curriculum is designed to maintain a spiral effect from year to year. Students complete various oral presentations each year, and the Six-Trait Writing model is employed at all grade levels.
St. James School’s science program is designed to give students at each grade level opportunities to participate in hands-on activities which allow them to utilize the scientific method. In an effort to increase hands-on instruction, a central, fully-equipped science lab was created. By building on children’s natural curiosity, as well as through investigation, making hypotheses, testing ideas, and drawing conclusions, students are able to make discoveries about their environment and themselves while developing skills in gathering, categorizing, quantifying and interpreting information.
The social studies curriculum is rooted in the belief that students should explore their connection to the past, recognize their place in the present, and consider their impact on the future. The program seeks to help students make discoveries about the world environment. Through the study of history, politics, government, economics, and geography, students learn to recognize their responsibility to respect and care for the world and empower them to become active members of the world community.
Students develop an awareness and appreciation for the arts, educating the whole student. Music instruction stresses active participation while focusing on basic musical elements. Art is taught as a method of expression which can be utilized across the curriculum. Junior high students opt to study areas including sculpting, photography, guitar, drama, and chorus through our electives program. Physical education and health programs emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind. Regular exercise, healthy food choices, and avoiding destructive decisions are emphasized.
Student response systems, SMART boards and tables, Power Point, Glogster, Google Docs, and Web 2.0 products are just a few methods used by students to demonstrate mastery across the curriculum. Students attend weekly technology classes receiving instruction on keyboarding, Microsoft Office products, Web 2.0 applications, and safe, ethical Internet usage. Students employ these skills in core classes aiding learning and improving varied assessment activities and projects.
The Spanish curriculum teaches students in all grades the fundamentals of speaking, reading, and writing in a second language. Students acquire the vocabulary necessary to listen to and comprehend simple sentences and directions. Students have opportunities to develop their communication skills through both oral and written activities. Students have opportunities to better understand and appreciate the Hispanic culture. The program focuses on giving students a solid foundation for the study of a second language prior to high school.