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Academics at St. Mary Catholic Middle Schools

St. Mary Catholic Schools provides an outstanding education to students from Pre-3 through high school. Our dedicated faculty and administrators are committed to meeting the academic needs of every student across the educational spectrum. SMCS’s accelerated opportunities, solid college-prep course selections and high expectations motivate and challenge students, and learning specialists provide support where needed.

Reaching Full Potential at SMCS Middle School

The curriculum is challenging, hands-on, and exploratory, and our caring and dedicated faculty and staff work for and with students and their families to meet each student’s educational needs. Individualized attention ensures that each student, whether high-performing or struggling, is able to reach his or her full potential. SMCMS has teaching and learning teams, so that the curriculum is shared and reinforced by all teachers across the grade levels.

Intensive Courses

In order to help students reach their highest potential, intensive classes are offered at all middle school levels in math and science. Students may take one or both, depending on individual interests and motivation. Intensive math and science classes offer students who have demonstrated mastery of current grade level math, and science an opportunity to challenge themselves with more difficult material. Leveled math courses allow students to progress at an appropriate pace for their level of mastery. Read more about academic placement in courses at SMCMS.

Individualized Instruction

Coursework is differentiated in all classes so that all students are appropriately challenged. All students take music, art, health, physical education and computer classes all year long.  SMCMS runs a traditional schedule which is consistent with our high school. An extension of our differentiated learning, this will allow our middle school students who meet certain requirements to attend selected high school level courses.

 


Curriculum

Curriculum: Grade 6

6th grade students may also participate in band, chorus, jazz band and show choir. See below for more information about band. General music is taken by those not interested in these electives.

  • Religion (Old Testament)
  • Mathematics 6 OR Intensive Math
  • Science OR Intensive Science
  • Social Studies
  • Reading/Language Arts
  • German OR Mandarin Chinese OR Spanish
  • Computer
  • Art
  • Physical Education
  • Health
  • Band OR Chorus OR General Music
  • Show Choir OR Jazz Band OR Literacy
Curriculum: Grade 7

7th grade students may also participate in band, chorus, jazz band and show choir. See below for more information about band. General music is taken by those not interested in these electives. 7th grade students may choose Mandarin Chinese, German or Spanish. Students who successfully complete a world language in both 7th and 8th grade may enter the second year of language instruction if they attend St. Mary Catholic High School.

Those not enrolled in a world language take a literacy course, which focuses on reading informational text and developing skills in studying, writing and researching. The literacy class helps students better understand reading material that is assigned, and the goal is mastery of all grade-level benchmarks related to literacy.

  • Religion (New Testament)
  • Mathematics 7 OR Pre-Algebra
  • Science OR Intensive Science
  • Social Studies
  • Reading/Language Arts
  • German OR Mandarin Chinese
  • Computer (PLTW Computer Science)
  • Art
  • Physical Education
  • Health
  • Band OR Chorus OR General Music
  • Show Choir OR Jazz Band OR Spanish OR Literacy
Curriculum: Grade 8

8th grade students may also participate in band, chorus, jazz band and show choir. See below for more information about band. General music is taken by those not interested in these electives. 8th grade students may choose Chinese, German or Spanish. Students who successfully complete a world language in both 7th and 8th grade may enter the second year of language instruction if they attend St. Mary Catholic High School.

Those not enrolled in a world language take a literacy course, which focuses on reading informational text and developing skills in studying, writing and researching. The literacy class helps students better understand reading material that is assigned, and the goal is mastery of all grade-level benchmarks related to literacy.

  • Religion (The Life of Jesus & Catholicism Today)
  • Pre-Algebra OR Algebra 1
  • Science OR Intensive Science
  • Social Studies
  • Reading/Language Arts
  • German OR Mandarin Chinese
  • Computer (PLTW Computer Science)
  • Art
  • Physical Education
  • Health
  • Band OR Chorus OR General Music
  • Show Choir OR Jazz Band OR Spanish OR Literacy

 

Music

Students may choose to take band, jazz band, choir, show choir, or a combination. However, students must be in band to take jazz band, and may not just take show choir. Band and jazz band are offered at different times, as are choir and show choir. A student could choose to take band and show choir, band and jazz band, choir and show choir or general music and show choir. However, students must choose between one of the three music classes: band, choir, or general music. If they would like to add jazz band or show choir also, they may do so.

Band/Jazz Band

Band students must provide their own instruments and a fee is charged for band participation. The fee includes a private or small group lesson on a weekly basis. Band students must purchase a white Lands’ End SMCMS-logo polo to wear with black pants, shoes and socks as the band uniform.

Choir/Show Choir

A fee is required for participation in choir or show choir. Black shoes, black pants and black socks are required for performances. Students must purchase a music shirt that will be used all three years. Requirements for that shirt will appear where when they have been determined. Concert dress is provided for the swing choir.

 

Academic Tools

St. Mary Catholic Middle School recognizes the importance of communicating with a student’s family about his or her progress throughout middle school. As a result, there are many ways that parents can stay informed. In addition to the formal notifications listed below, parents/guardians are encouraged to email or phone instructors with questions before they become issues, keeping in mind that teachers are occupied with classroom duties during the school day and may not be able to provide an immediate response.

PowerSchool

PowerSchool is an online portal that makes it easy for parents and students to keep up to date with assignments and grades. This internet-accessed program facilitates the flow of information between parents, students and teachers, and is a powerful tool for checking a child’s latest grades, receiving email alerts when new grades are posted and seeing what assignments are missing or incomplete. Students and parents are given access to the program by using secure, privacy protecting passwords.

Edmodo

Edmodo, a tool designed strictly for educational purposes, is a free and secure learning network for teachers, students, and schools. All St. Mary Catholic High School teachers use this program, which provides a safe way for teachers and students to connect, share content, access homework, participate in discussions, manage due dates, and receive class information.

 

Media Center

The media center provides many amenities of both a traditional library and a 21st century media center. Students find the room a comfortable place to read or study, and may work on homework and group projects there. They may also check out books through our electronic system. The green screen is used by classes, small groups and clubs and activities to produce videos for projects, tape presentations and promotions and to critique public speaking and forensics activities.

 

Learning Specialist

As part of the system’s comprehensive pupil services program,St. Mary Catholic Middle School has a learning specialist on staff. This professional’s responsibility is to ensure that each student receives the educational assistance necessary to achieve to the best of his or her ability. Using differentiated instruction strategies and working with classroom teachers, the learning specialist helps to create situations in which individuals can learn best. Students benefit from alternative approaches to instruction and modified lesson plans and assessment tools, supplementary materials and new learning strategies.

Students are referred in cooperation with family, teachers and administration, and may work with the learning specialist in one or multiple academic areas.

 

Testing

Academics is the center of SMCMS’ well-rounded educational offerings, and it is reflected in our students’ test taking.

St. Mary Catholic Schools uses the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests to track the scholastic progress of SMES students in grades 6-8, and SMCMS students consistently score well above average in all areas on MAP tests.

MAP is a computer-based assessment program that uses questions of increasing difficulty based on the student’s current academic level and shows an individual’s progress over time. MAP tests are administered in the fall and spring of each school year, and the data helps educators gain an understanding of each child’s current academic level in comparison to that of the 5.1 million students who take the tests nationwide. The assessment provides nearly immediate data that is used to assist teachers in:

  • Individualizing student instruction
  • Identifying student strengths, for both individuals and groups of students
  • Pinpointing topics that need to be reviewed or reinforced