Head of School Blog
Susan Tyree Dempf, Ph.D.

Diving Deep into Goal II

Dear Academy families and friends,

As we continue our journey into the 2020 edition of the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, this week take a deep dive into “Goal II – Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a deep respect for intellectual values.” From our youngest learners in the Little Acorns class to our Eighth Class students readying themselves for the next step of their educational journey, high school, there is focus on creating opportunities to ‘stretch intellectually.’

Goal II, Criteria 1 calls educators and students to “engage in challenging experiences that inspire intellectual curiosity, a global mindset and a life-long love of learning.” A walk down the arcade hallway and you are transported to Russia as students share their paintings depicting Matryoshka nesting dolls. Likewise, the question of “what did Magellan’s expedition accomplish” sets a student to consider global exploration and how that changes mindsets. While Criteria 2 focuses on the “offering of a dynamic curriculum, effective instructional methodologies, review of current educational research and ongoing evaluation.” Learning labs that allow for a student to move ahead or a student to receive a little extra support is an example of how this criterion is approached.

At the Academy Goal II, Criteria 3, which focuses on the “use of a variety of teaching and learning strategies to support growth and development,” is experienced through science labs in the Lower School where students explore and document their findings on the sounds made by different objects and then put this knowledge to work to create a ‘secret code’ that directs action. From word problems and sudoku to algebraic equations, students learn the universal language of mathematics though varied learning strategies that help connect with each learner in the manner that suits them best.

This past year’s Fund-the-Need, focused on technology, directly supported Goal II, Criteria 4, “the curricular and cocurricular programs integrate innovation and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, the exploration of emerging technologies and critical evaluation of information.” A visit to John Storjohann’s computer labs finds the Middle School students engaged in designing in 3D and making those designs come to life through the 3D printer. In Second Class students are asked to consider the problems that pioneers might have encountered when travelling in a covered wagon or three ways to cross a river. Across the grade levels from Third Class to Eighth Class the use of Microsoft Teams allows for the development of collaborative skills as students are provided with the opportunity to work together on shared learning projects incorporating authentic assessments.

Goal II, Criteria 5 encourages the school to use space and “the physical environment in alignment with best pedagogical practices.” A visit with the Little Acorns brings you into a classroom-based ‘fire station’ complete with a truck, a ‘burning’ building, and a 911 call center. “Stop, Drop and Roll” comes alive as learning and imaginative play are experienced to the delight of our youngest learners in a space designed for free movement. On the opposite end of the school spectrum, students in Seventh and Eighth Classes have a very different learning environment with high top tables, ‘living room’ style spaces within the classroom and a Harkness table to support their maturing styles.

Goal II, Criteria 6 supports the cultivation of “aesthetic values and the creative use of imagination.” This is represented by the study and depiction of movement and rhythm as students learn how the viewer’s eye traverses a work of art. While in Middle School Science classes students combine knowledge of human movement and engineering to develop functioning models of prosthetic devices.

Sacred Heart educators assume responsibility for their professional growth, supported by resources and a culture that promotes life-long learning. This happens in many ways, including professional development days sponsored by the school, participation in conferences off-campus as well as teacher-initiated requests for support of advanced course work and content study. This is how Goal II, Criteria 7 is lived out by our teachers and staff.
Goal II is alive and well at the Academy, this is just a ‘little glimpse’ to help demonstrate the Criteria in action.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Dr. Susan Dempf