St. Cassian School's Curriculum:
St. Cassian School provides a curriculum in the Catholic tradition to foster students’ intellectual, moral, religious, social and physical development. The school aligns its curriculum to the Archdiocese of Newark Curriculum Guidelines, which meet or exceed relevant educational standards, including those proposed by content area experts, the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, and the Common Core Standards.
Learning is a unique process at St. Cassian School placing significant emphasis on integrating the arts and technology into curricula as well as addressing the multiple intelligences of its students. The integrated approach creates a multi-dimensional learning experience that ensures each student has a multitude of experiences to maximize strengths and address challenges.
In addition to regular curriculum described in more detail below, students in kindergarten through eighth grade participate in a program titled, “The MIAD (Multiple Intelligence Arts Domain) Elective Course Program ” for eighty minutes per week during school hours. The MIAD electives are designed by the staff to increase students’ academic knowledge and skills through the integration of the visual and performing arts, technology and physical education. For instance, a Tap dancing course not only includes learning the technique, but also the genre’s history, and guided and independent opportunities for research and creative writing. Trimester long MIAD electives include video production, photography, poetry, mock trial, playwriting, musical theater, architecture and engineering, leadership, painting and watercolor, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activities and more. Parents and parishioners with expertise in a particular discipline and professional artists-in-residence are commonly invited as MIAD Program guest teachers.
The St. Cassian experience integrates the use of technology across the curriculum, especially within the STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) learning activities. The school has a state-of-the-art technology lab and a mobile technology lab with thirty laptops used within the classroom and connected by school-wide WiFi. In addition, each classroom has a Smart board or Smart table. One to One deployment of Chromebooks in the middle school and iPads in the elementary grades, along with Spheros technology for science and math, make learning engaging and fun for 21st century learner. The advanced technology also allows the school to be the area’s sole user of the “flipped classroom” approach, providing distance learning on snow days and other emergency closings
St. Cassian School’s devoted and talented faculty creates an inspiring culture of learning. For instance, teachers routinely offer after-school academic mentoring or provide opportunities to enhance students’ development. From running a school newspaper, a Young Engineers Club, the Forensics (public speaking) team, moderating the Mini Model Congress to coaching one of the numerous sports programs, the teachers dedicate themselves to enriching students’ lives.
The greatest testimonial to the excellence of a St. Cassian education is the continuing success of our students and graduates. We are extremely proud of the results:
- St. Cassian School students score in the top 15% of students nation-wide on standardized tests
- 40% of students score above the 95th percentile on one or more subtests of the Terra Nova exam
- Each year, several of our students get inducted into the National Junior Honor Society
- 100% of our graduates are admitted to the area’s most prestigious secondary schools
- 60% of our graduating students receive scholarships to high school
- 85% of our graduates are placed in Honors or Advanced Placement courses in high school
- Many of our students receive the President's Educational Excellence Award each year
St. Cassian School is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, is a member in good standing of the National Catholic Educational Association, meets all state regulations and guidelines, and adheres to the Diocesan guidelines for its religious education curriculum.
In summary, the St. Cassian School experience provides an education that mentors the uniqueness of each child by addressing their talents and multiple intelligences, and by encouraging each to assume leadership through a foundation in the Catholic faith.
The religion curriculum, central to the school mission, is integrated into all the academic and social activities of the school. Through daily lessons, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students learn about the message and life of Jesus Christ and the history, practices and doctrine of the Catholic Church. With the aim of encouraging the Catholic leaders of tomorrow, the school engages students in service and develops their respect for the diversity of human culture and the rights of others as individuals and groups. Students also assume leadership roles by preparing the readings and intentions for Mass and creating the school’s daily prayers based on a monthly theme.
The school implements the reading/English language arts curriculum through a balanced, formative approach to reading, writing, language, speaking, and listening. In the lower elementary grades, the school focuses on phonological awareness, word recognition, sentence structure, paragraph formation, active listening, written and oral responses, and establishes the grammatical building blocks for writing. To accomplish this, a variety of literature, such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and readers’ theater, supports the Harcourt Reading Street Series in integrating decoding, grammar, spelling, phonics and comprehension. Online resources, iPad technology, Smart table and Smart board lesson components are used to enrich the learning process
In the middle grades, reading/language arts literacy expands to include essay writing through exposure to persuasive, informative, narrative, descriptive, reflective, and compare/contrast genres, and through Writer’s Workshop, which provides practice in mastering the writing process. In addition, students learn to debate, write research papers and conduct interviews. Increased exposure to informational texts, novels, anthologies, mythologies, drama, poetry and other reading genres provides enrichment to the middle school curriculum.
For designing differentiated instruction for all learning levels, the school utilizes portfolio assessment, student interviews, teacher observations, and formative and summative assessments. Furthermore, utilizing reading journals, personal journals, learning centers, and Reading and Writers’ Workshop provide opportunities for differentiated instruction designed to address each student’s needs. St. Cassian also provides middle school students with Chromebooks, which allow teachers to give real-time feedback to students regarding progress on their individual learning targets. Laptop devices are also used to facilitate research, create presentations and produce videos.
The mathematics curriculum, throughout all grade levels, emphasizes problem-based learning through hands-on experiences to promote content knowledge, computation, measurement and an understanding of geometry. Mathematical reasoning skills are taught through a skills-based approach and multi-disciplinary projects that draw on real-life experiences. The building blocks to algebra are taught starting in first grade, leading up to pre-algebra and algebra classes in the seventh and eighth grades. Technology and STEM related activities are incorporated to enrich learning and provide real-world applications. IXL, an online math program, and learning centers are used across all grades for differentiated instruction and to address students’ needs. A mathematics support specialist is available to help students meet challenges in concepts and skills.
The science curriculum merges concepts in physical, earth, and life science systems with hands-on experiments, discoveries and laboratory techniques. The curriculum equips students with the skills necessary to discover and analyze the intricacies of any branch of study, facilitate that discovery through critical thinking and discourse, and cultivate the passion to grow as emerging scientists and engineers. Students continuously engage in the STEM process -- observing, conjecturing, and experimenting-- through weekly teacher lectures, demonstrations or student-centered activities. At all grade levels, the science curriculum challenges students to maintain high science literacy by expressing their discoveries in various ways. By middle school, students write research papers and formal laboratory reports. Small group, one-on-one instruction and differentiated learning center activities assist in addressing the needs and challenges of students.
The social studies curriculum seeks to create an awareness of the diverse American nation and the interdependent world. The curriculum enables students to learn about the past to better understand the present in order to anticipate and prepare for the future as active Christian proponents of peace and justice. The curriculum’s content spans from learning about the uniqueness of self, families and communities in kindergarten to the study of world and U.S. history, geography, culture, economic systems, and governmental systems by the middle grades. Through a literacy and problem-solving approach, students learn and communicate knowledge in various ways, including creating integrated art and technology models.
The Spanish and French curriculum develops increased language proficiency, articulation, and cultural comp etence in pre-kindergarten throug h eighth grade students. The lessons are conducted once per week in each grade. In the primary grades, phonetic awareness, vocabulary, basic grammar skills and language patterns are developed through activities and lessons that explore the students’ multiple intelligences. In the middle grades, the instruction includes complex grammar, conversation and paragraph writing. St. Cassian’s graduates have notable success in their high school world language courses and beyond. In 2016, St. Cassian initiated French classes for 1-4 grades. Based on demand, the school is considering expanding this offering to the higher grades.