New Sacred Heart school is in session
By Kathy Chaffin
Who says learning can’t be fun?
“They’re having a blast,” Librarian Carole Ball says while watching three Sacred Heart Catholic School students work on a 77-inch interactive SMART Board in the technology lab. “Then again, they’re doing the lessons they’re expected to be doing.”
Cecilia Cardelle, Maria Strobel and Natalie Nunez take turns using a wand to place continents in their rightful place on a world map. The fifth graders also create their own spelling lesson, using the wand to write out the names of the continents.
They are not the only students enjoying the technology lab in the brand new school on Lumen Christi Lane, located off North Jake Alexander Boulevard. Ball says all the students are blossoming. “It’s really an ideal learning environment.”
Ball and Hugo Gareis, computer technology coordinator, work with teachers to plan lessons using interactive technology to engage students in the subject matter.
In his first year at Sacred Heart, Gareis says he’s excited about seeing students’ response to the new technology. “They just eat it up on all levels,” he says. “I’m finding anywhere from kindergarten through eighth grade, they’re really enjoying it.”
Gareis says the faculty is also excited about the new equipment at Sacred Heart, which relocated this year from its North Ellis Street site.
A separate technology lab and mobile carts containing enough laptops and interactive tablets for 30 students allow for more collaborative teaching. “We’re starting to get a lot more teachers coming to us to work on their projects,” Gareis says.
Eighth-grade teacher Steve Pring, for example, recently asked for their input on his upcoming study on the colonization of America. Ball and Gareis are also working with seventh-grade teacher Mike Thompson on a comparative study of the demographics of the Middle East.
One of the activities Gareis has planned for the technology lab is simulating problem solving across distances. Even though the students will be in the classroom together, he says they will be required to use Web tools to communicate.
Each classroom in the new school is equipped with a 36-inch, flat screen on which teachers can show anything from Power Point presentations to DVDs and VCRs, according to Frank Cardelle, dean of students at Sacred Heart.
A media distribution center at the new school will allow programs to be put directly through to classrooms from the Internet along with photos and software.
Frances Rash, who served on a committee assigned to develop a five-year technology plan for the school, says teachers now have an extensive collection of resources available through video streaming, made possible by Sacred Heart’s Safari Montage subscription.
“Teachers and staff are using the local area network for communication, reducing paper use for memos and announcements,” she says.
Cardelle says the school will continue to add enough laptops over the next three years for students in the sixth through the eighth grades to have one, starting with the eighth grade.
In addition to adding hardware and software, Rash, a Title I tutor and grant writer for the school, says the plan calls for ongoing staff training and continuing education as well as “benchmarks to make sure the program is working in terms of teachers incorporating technology into regular instruction, teacher and student use of resources and increased student achievement.”
Rash says it’s important to note that Sacred Heart’s increased technology is not replacing qualified teachers or curriculum. “The teachers are using technology to enhance learning,” she says. “It is a delivery method which integrates technology with a strong-core curriculum taught by certified and qualified teachers who are dedicated to helping students succeed and become lifelong learners.
“With our longstanding tradition of excellence and faith-based education, our school is an exceptional learning environment, preparing children for life in an ever-changing world with values and skills that will allow them to flourish.”
This year’s enrollment at Sacred Heart is around 200, according to Robin Fisher, a member of the Sacred Heart school board and past PTO president. “We’re pretty consistent with last year, which has been a very positive occurence considering the economy,” she says.
The school is part of the parish of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which is in the Diocese of Charlotte. Sister Anastacia Pagulayan is the principal.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.