Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan 2017-2020

St. Cassian School Mission Statement

St. Cassian School is a student-centered school focused on maximizing each student’s potential through a challenging academic curriculum in an environment that is focused on Catholic-Christian values. The school is committed to academic excellence emphasizing a technology and arts-infused curriculum that develops each child as a whole, independent person spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically.

St. Cassian School effectively prepares students to meet 21st century challenges by helping them become creative problem-solvers and independent thinkers, with the solid moral compass of Catholic leaders.

School Description and History

St. Cassian Parish manifested its strong commitment to Catholic education when it built and opened St. Cassian School in 1953, and chartered its supporting Foundation in 1984. St. Cassian School thrives today by forming students who excel when their faith and education grow in tandem to create empathetic, capable leaders for tomorrow.

The parish’s ongoing commitment to Catholic education was demonstrated again in 2000, with the addition of a science laboratory and a pre-kindergarten classroom to the school building. Accredited by the Commission of Middle States and Colleges since 1994, St. Cassian School has a strong reputation for its academic programs, infused with the arts and technology throughout the curriculum.

The school's traditions build each student’s faith and service through contemplation and action. Having a child experience his or her power as one person to make a difference in people’s lives is as critical as experiencing that impact as a member of a class, a school and community. The school’s yearly “Giving Tree,” filled with the names and needs of children; the annual Thanksgiving food drive; the students’ volunteer efforts at the local food pantry; the Christmas senior breakfast are some of the customary activities that encourage the students to put faith into action.

Today, the school is near capacity with two hundred and forty-one students. It serves a diverse multi-racial and multi-cultural community of students from Montclair and the surrounding towns. Although the school’s mission is to offer a Catholic-based education, it accepts students of all faiths, with approximately two percent of its student population being non-Catholic.

St. Cassian School’s devoted and talented faculty creates an inspiring culture of learning. They are committed to challenging students to excel within the Archdiocese of Newark’s curriculum, offering lessons that address the Common Core Standards, while enriching them in a multitude of ways. 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 school's administrators, the principal and the St. Cassian Church’s pastor, play a key role in empowering the teachers as well as students to create a challenging, stimulating and nurturing environment. It is common to see the principal and pastor walking the halls during the day, engaging in the learning process, attending school events and teaching a class. The pastor, for example, teaches seventh grade religion, deepening students’ understanding of the Catholic faith.

Learning is a unique process at St. Cassian School through the implementation of curricular practices that integrate the arts, technology and address 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.

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 the school day. 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.

In addition to the MIAD electives, 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 boasts 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

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.

Profile of a St. Cassian Graduate

  1. Understands the teachings, doctrines and practices of the Catholic faith and fosters a commitment to building the kingdom of God.

  2. Embraces and models moral and Christian /Catholic values, ethical standards of conduct and basic integrity.

  3. Expresses Christ’s love through service to others.

  4. Demonstrates leadership qualities through academics, service and citizenship.

  5. Appreciates the diversity and uniqueness of human culture.

  6. Respects the rights of other individuals and groups.

  7. Analyzes and solves complex problems.

  8. Expresses thoughts in a clear cohesive manner through verbal and written

    expression.

Academics:

Focus Areas

St. Cassian School was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School in 2016. Its students consistently demonstrate high levels of academic achievement. Results of the March 2016, TERRA Nova testing show the average score in grade seven math exceeds the Blue Ribbon cut-off score by twenty-one points. Scores in mathematics, on average, for all grades exceed the Blue Ribbon cut scores by six points. The Language Arts scores, on average, exceed the Blue Ribbon cut-off scores by six points as well. This remarkable achievement is due to the diligence of the staff in designing instruction that meets the identified, specific needs of the students.

St. Cassian School celebrates each student’s uniqueness and develops practices that address his or her talents and strengths. Teachers design lessons and establish learning targets that foster growth and aim to maximize the potential of each child. With this premise, teachers instruct using advanced strategies, techniques, and researched based activities, such as those prescribed by Mazano’s High Yield Strategies, Blooms'Taxonomy of Learning and Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

The school’s general approach to all academic areas is interdisciplinary and theme-based. Instructional approaches address the multiple intelligences and integrate the arts and technology. Eighth grade students, for example, created silent films that depicted social, political, financial and entertainment themes of the 1920s for a social studies, language arts, and technology interdisciplinary project. The films delved into prohibition, women’s rights, the death of President Coolidge, the “Charleston” dance, and other topics relevant to the era. Through this collaborative project-based activity, the eighth graders exercised high-level divergent thinking skills and demonstrated optimal learning.

Goal: Maintain student academic achievement to remain in the top 15 percent of all schools, nationally.

Objective 1: Training of staff will be driven by the needs of the students.

Strategies:

  1. Analyze Terra Nova scores and other forms of student assessment in order to address the students’ individual needs.

  2. Implement differentiated strategies that meet the needs of gifted learners, as well as those needing to develop basic skills.

  3. Offer unique learning opportunities which develop specific skills and critical and divergent thinking. Examples include MIAD Electives, Mini Model Congress, Forensics, STEM Fair, Robotics, and Mock Trial.

  4. Provide faculty training in areas identified in the Instructional Priorities Plan.

Objective 2: Maximize learning through arts and technology integration by ensuring a curricular approach.

Strategies:

a. Offer staff training on arts and technology integration strategies b. Design lessons that address the Multiple Intelligences of students

Objective 3: Continue to employ highly qualified teachers with training in their specific subject area/grade level

Strategies:

c. Engage collaboratively with the recruitment and interview committee.

Catholic Identity:

The school’s Catholic identity is central to the mission. Our faith 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 care and respect for all of God’s creations.

Students also assume leadership roles by preparing the readings and intentions for a monthly school Mass and creating and leading the school’s daily prayers based on a monthly theme. In addition, students participate actively as lectors, altar servers and gift bearers.

Goal: Continue to place primary focus on meeting our mission to provide a challenging curriculum focused on Christian-Catholic values

Objective 1: Continue to provide a religious education curriculum that helps students understand the teachings, doctrines and practices of the Catholic faith, as well as helps to foster a commitment to building the kingdom of God

Strategies:

  1. Evaluate the curriculum scope and sequence and the teaching resources every three years

  2. Administer assessments through tests, quizzes and projects

  3. Administer the Archdiocese of Newark ACRE Assessment in fifth and

    eighth grade

  4. Prepare students to receive the sacraments of reconciliation,

    communion, and Confirmation

  5. Schedule daily religion lessons for all grade levels (Pre-K through 8th

    grade)

Objective 2: Instill the value of expressing Christ’s love through service to others

Strategies:

  1. Require all middle school students a minimum amount of hours of service

  2. Engage all students in group service activities, including with community and parish groups, such as the O50 Club and preparing meals for the Midnight Run

Objective 3: Offer staff development on the implementation of our religious education program

Strategies

  1. Offer courses towards cathechist certification

  2. Provide opportunities for staff to attend diocese –wide training

  3. Provide in-house staff development

  4. Provide staff retreats

  5. Provide journals and literature, including The

    Advocate Archdiocesan Magazine, the parish bulletin, and books on the topic, for staff

Objective 4: Offer students and staff opportunities for reflection and prayer

Strategies

  1. Pray together as a school daily

  2. Provide communion and confirmation retreats

  3. Provide annual staff retreats

  4. Provide opportunities several times a year for the students and staff

    to pray the rosary together, specially during the month of October

    and May

  5. Participate in Eucharistic adoration as a school community

  6. Schedule reconciliation opportunities for students and staff twice a

    year

Objective 5: Teach, encourage and expect full participation of the school community in the Liturgy

Strategies

a. Attend monthly school masses

  1. Encourage participation through letters from the pastor and the principal

  2. Encourage students to participate in music liturgy through the school’s bell ensemble

  3. Encourage student to be active participants by providing opportunities to alter serve, read and bring up offerings at mass

Objective 6: Encourage members of the school community to participate in parish ministries, programs and activities

Strategies

  1. Maintain families informed of parish ministries, programs, and activities through our weekly school email

  2. Make the parish weekly bulletin readily available to school families

  3. Provide a link to the school website on our parish website

  4. Encourage parents and students to participate in parish groups, such as

    the Parish Council and youth ministry

Technology:

The technology mission of Saint Cassian School is to provide the teachers and staff with innovative practices to maximize the learning experience for all students. Both, students and educators use new technology and devices to engage in experiences that promote high-level thinking and problem solving skills by making connections to real world- learning in all academic areas of the curriculum. Teachers prepare students to meet the needs of the twenty-first century by teaching challenging and creative lessons using state of the art tools and programs.

Technology is integrated throughout all the curriculum areas to enhance learning by providing the tools to generate, obtain, manipulate and display information. This is made possible through the vast technology resources available to students and faculty. These resources include a SMART Board in every classroom, a SMART Table in the preschool classes, iPads, a 30-laptop mobile technology lab, and individual Chromebooks for every middle school student. In addition to the integrative process, all students receive targeted weekly instruction, which ranges from simple keyboarding, creating Word document and PowerPoint presentations to intricate projects, including video productions, newsletters, and architectural designs. These and other projects couple technology skills with literacy, the arts, and STEM. In addition, our advanced technology implementation allows the school to use the “flipped classroom” approach to provide distance learning on snow days and other emergency closings.

Goal: Continue to develop and implement a replicable, student-centered, digital learning environment across all NJ Core Curriculum Content areas.

Objective 1: Continue to implement instructional lessons that demonstrate proficient infusion of technological thinking and digital resources at all grade levels

Strategies:

  1. Provide staff development that supports the goals and objectives

  2. Support and encourage risk-taking by teachers to use technology

    innovatively for teaching and learning.

  3. Develop adjacent grade teacher teams or professional learning

    communities to support growth in skills and turnkey information

Objective 2: All students reach technology mastery levels at the end of each grade level, as evidenced by the Archdiocesan Technology Curriculum Map of content and skills.

Strategies:

  1. Monitor student progress through the assessment of project based learning and technology infused activities reflecting the acquisition of the skills

  2. Provide lessons that develop the technology skills identified by the Archdiocesan Curriculum Map.

Objective 3: Provide technology resources for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, geographical location, or disability.

Strategies:

  1. Locate assistive technology resources for specific disabilities through support from the Essex Regional commission, the of Newark, the NJ and the US Department of Education, and the Montclair local school district.

  2. Locate and provide list of free wi-fi hot spots in areas where students do not have Internet access at home.

Goal 2: Provide additional and ongoing staff development in applications and programs that will enable teachers to track, access, and monitor the progress of each student. The school will identify and develop support and resources for teachers as they incorporate this technology into their lessons.

Objective 1: Provide staff development that in applications/ programs that enhance the learning process by engaging the learner, as well as track their progress.

Strategies:

  1. Assist teachers in identifying software and internet resources that can be used in their subject areas.

  2. Identify grade level classroom projects that reflect technology standards.

  3. Provide discussion/planning time to collaborate with the technology integrator to work together with the teachers to incorporate technology in more subject areas.

  4. Continue to provide professional development in different technologies and devices.

  1. Create a technology staffing and service plan to support and maintain support new and existing initiatives.

  2. Provide teachers with the resources necessary for the implementation of state of the art technology.

  3. Provide high-quality, ongoing, professional learning targeted to technology-infused content for all staff members.

  4. Provide peer support through teacher led demonstration of technology integration by one grade level teacher per monthly staff meeting.

  5. Provide on-going, curriculum and instructional technology on-site support to teachers by ensuring common planning time between classroom teachers and technology integration specialist.

Goal 3: Review and modify technology devices and software to determine clear benchmarks and timelines for obtaining new components. Assuming the lifecycle of a component is 5 years - at the end of 3 years, a plan and budget must be created and a process and system for piloting new devices, software and applications needs to be implemented. The capacity, infrastructure, staffing, and equipment will continue to be available to meet the teachers' and students' academic needs for effective and efficient operations as evidenced by pre and post surveys.

Objective 1: Create a 3-year plan that is incorporated into the Saint Cassian School budget. Revisit this plan each year to make changes/add/update to the current technology needs of the school.

Strategies:

  1. Inventory of current working/non-working devices needs to be done at the end of each school year.

  2. Investigate competitive pricing for technical and infrastructure support. Quotes from at least 2 vendors (if not a direct purchase) needs to be requested and provided for the exact or comparable items.

c. Technological equipment used in a school environment (having the lifespan of 5 years) must be replaced.

  1. Utilize support from Saint Cassian School Foundation and, going forward, the Home School Association fundraising to update/purchase new technology and training for the students and staff.

  2. Speak with local Archdiocesan schools to find practices that work in technical and infrastructure support.

Goal 4: Students in Pre-K through 4th grade will continue to incorporate digital formats in their formal writing and literacy lessons while still maintaining penmanship, and the artistic value of non-technology assisted drawing and writing. Additionally, student will participate in basic messaging formatting through safe and supervised conversations (i.e. pen pals, emails to parents, The Monster Project, etc.).

Objective: Students in Pre-K through 4th grade will be able to share ideas and knowledge through collaborative online publishing and discussion.

Strategies:

  1. Creating Google emails/Classroom for children to access to practice letter format in a digital age.

  2. Adding publishing of a digital format to the writing publishing sequence.

  3. Encouraging children in K-3 to actively participate in online discussion through "safe" deemed apps, such as Seesaw.

Governance:

The implementation of the mission and philosophy of the school is a collaborative effort among the principal, the pastor, and the school’s Advisory Board. The principal, as the educational leader of the school, collaborates with the Pastor, the spiritual leader, to create an environment conducive to vibrant spiritual life within the school. In addition, the principal sets the standards of learning and the vision for success in meeting the school’s mission of excellence.

The school’s Advisory Board, which is made up of members of the parish and school community, offers time and diversity of talent in the areas of strategic planning, finance, facilities and marketing/development to ensure the school’s mission is accomplished. The Board members not only bring a wealth of knowledge, but also a generous enthusiasm for turning initiatives into accomplishments.

The principal understands that collaboration from all stakeholders is the hallmark of a successful school; therefore, she welcomes and gives careful consideration to ideaspresented by staff, parents, students, and school community stakeholders. New school initiatives are discussed at faculty, Home and School Association, School Advisory Board, St. Cassian Foundation, and Student Council meetings where open dialogues are always encouraged.

In turn, the school community embraces change because they have been part of the decision-making process. There has been a renaissance in the school over the last three years, which has been made possible through the collaborative efforts of our school, parish and broader community. The rebirth began at multiple levels. In technology, it started by adding a wireless network in July of 2013 and now the school implements a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art practices in technology and technology integration. A new approach to instruction with a focus on addressing the multiple intelligences and integrating the arts and technology has resulted in improved learning and academic success. A testament to the academic success is the students’ performance on the TerraNova assessment and the school meeting the eligibility criteria for Blue Ribbon consideration. New programs such as the MIAD Electives, Mini Model Congress, Mock Trial, and Forensics have increased the students’ leadership skills and self-esteem and have deepened academic understanding.

Most importantly, the school’s mission to foster an environment rich in Catholic values and tradition is stronger than ever under the guidance of the pastor. His approach and involvement is best illustrated by his presence in the classrooms and in teaching the seventh grade Religion class.

Visionary leadership and collaboration have brought to fruition new levels of success for St. Cassian School making it worthy of Blue Ribbon recognition.

Goal: Provide visionary leadership in ensuring the growth and success of the school.

Objective 1: The principal in collaboration with the Pastor and the Advisory Board will set the standards of learning and the vision for success in meeting the school’s mission of excellence.

Objective 2: The Pastor, as the spiritual leader, will work in collaboration with the principal, the educational leader, to create an environment conducive to vibrant spiritual life within the school.

Objective 3: The school’s Advisory Board will continue to provide guidance in the areas of strategic planning, finance, facilities and marketing/development to ensure the school’s mission is accomplished.

  1. Hold a minimum of four meetings throughout the school year.

  2. Create sub-committees for each of the key areas, including

    strategic planning, finance, facilities, and marketing/development.

Facility:

St. Cassian Parish manifested its strong commitment to Catholic education when it built and opened St. Cassian School in 1953, and chartered its supporting Foundation in 1984. The parish’s ongoing commitment to Catholic education was demonstrated again in 2000, with the addition of a science laboratory and a pre-kindergarten classroom to the school building.

All areas of the campus are well maintained. The facility management staff takes pride in keeping the building and the grounds clean and aesthetically beautiful. Much care is placed on creating a safe and optimal learning and working environment.

Goal: Maintain a safe, clean and optimal learning and work environment Objective 1:Continue to take measures that maximize safety.

Strategies:

  1. Expand keyless entry system to front and science room door.

  2. Ensure all security cameras are working and monitoring all school

    entry points.

Objective 2: Work with local authorities to assure compliance to all safety procedures.

Strategies:

  1. Assure all inspections are done thoroughly by the proper authorities: Fire, asbestos, water.

  2. Conduct fire drills monthly and intruder and evacuation drills regularly.

Objective 3: Maintain a clean and sanitary learning and working environment.Strategies:

Conduct daily cleaning of all classrooms.

Sanitize lunch tables, door knobs and stair railings daily. Shampoo all rugs every 3 months or sooner if needed.

Objective 4: Enhance and maintain the building to meet the needs of the school community.

c. Strip and seal floors yearly.

  1. Refinish gymnasium floor annually.

  2. Paint classrooms, hallways, doors, and railings once yearly.

Finance:

The financial stability of the school is healthy. The school’s revenue successfully covers the expenditures and enables the school to provide a superior educational experience for its students. Revenue sources include: tuition, a subsidy from the Archdiocese from Newark, grants from local and state government, grants from the St. Cassian School Foundation, and Home and School Association, and school fundraising.

The Archdiocese appointed a business manager in January 2016, which is assisting the school in meeting the diocese’s new finance initiatives. These new initiatives are described in the “Lighting the Way” document provided in the supporting evidence.

Goals: Maintain healthy financial stability that supports the success of the school and its educational programs.

Objective 1: Create a school budget meeting the guidelines set forth by the Archdiocesan Lighting the Way directives.

a. Collaborate with the Archdiocese of Newark Finance Office and its appointed business manager in creating a budget that meets the constraints of the assigned subsidy.

Objective 2: Create an annual balanced school budget that reflects information gathered though a needs assessment process.

Objective 3: Ensure the successful financial viability of the school through careful monitoring of the resources.

Objective 4: Allocate resources in support of the school’s mission, vision, philosophy and strategic plan.

Engaging Families and Community:

St. Cassian School thrives today because of the deep family and community roots that not only support the school, but also build the students’ understanding of friendship, community and excellence. The school remains a top priority of the St. Cassian parish, which supports students, curricula, teachers, the principal, and the school. The St. Cassian School Foundation, comprised of parish and school families, provides much of the yearly capital needed to upgrade the facility or expand curricula, such as its recent technology investment.

The students benefit from the support of families who plan, participate in or attend events to support the students’ involvement with the arts, sports or community work. The families take ownership in creating events that teach the students important social skills. A few examples include fundraising and hosting a “sock hop” dance, a second grade breakfast, an eighth grade dinner and field trips.

Families also play a critical role in helping students plan community service activities, such as helping the homeless, visiting senior centers, executing food drives, and reading poems of gratitude to veterans. They are also instrumental in helping maintain a thriving sports program at the school.

Community partnerships enhance learning and broaden students’ perspective. The school’s proximity to higher education and excellent artistic centers makes the options numerous. The schools’ partnership with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is a prime example of how the students educationally benefit through the expertise of visiting artists.

Students, their families, community members, and local artists join together each year for an annual student art gallery. Each student displays several pieces of art related to a specific theme. Working together, students and artists create pieces using many different mediums. Currently, a local artist is teaching photography to the students.

The school’s MIAD program opens the doors to community members, parents and business owners to share their experiences and knowledge with students. For instance, a lawyer from a local law firm partners with one of the teachers to lead the Mock Trial and Legal System elective course.

Within the school and outside community, students put their faith into action by participating in several non-profit groups, such as the Human Needs Food Pantry of Montclair, Catholic Community Services, St. Michaels’ Parish Families in Need, and St. Cassian Parish’s Little Angels child care services. These service opportunities provide students with experiences that are critical to their development as productive, empathetic Catholic leaders.

Goal: Engage families to build community partnerships while enhancing the learning experience.

Objective 1: Continue to engage in community partnerships to broaden student service experiences and learning opportunities.

Objective 2: Seek to establish additional artist-in residence programs.

Objective 3: Establish a new scholar-in-residence program by inviting experts in the arts, business, technology and academics to enhance the educational process for our students.

Objective 4: Continue to provide opportunities for parents and family members to participate in enhancing student experiences.

Objective 5: Expand the role of Parent Ambassadors in providing community outreach.

Objective 6: Expand outreach to alumni to track their accomplishments and keep them informed about the school.

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