Highlights of St. Thomas the Apostle
Ongoing Curriculum Work
Providing a solid framework of curriculum to direct and lead our teaching is essential for an optimal learning environment. The National Common Core Standards are far more rigorous than the Illinois State Standards, and therefore, over the last five years, we have made it our goal to begin implementing these curricular changes. St. Thomas the Apostle has used a backwards design approach to implement both English and Math Common Core Standards. Every year a new subject gets added.
We actively use a computer based testing instrument three times a year to capture instant feedback on both individual, as well as, classroom growth. (Measures of Academic Progress Results) MAP testing provides a growth model, allowing us to capture data and evaluate how our students are improving throughout the school year. This information is highly valuable to the teacher as they study both student and classroom growth and learning.
At St. Thomas the Apostle, we recognize that all students have unique gifts and talents. It is our responsibility to foster and cultivate these strengths as well as to identify additional areas needing support. At STS we use our MAP testing results to offer small group reinforcement, particularly in the area of Math. Two full time resource/gifted teachers allows us to offer target groups at every grade level.
Challenge our Minds, Expand Thinking was created as an enrichment/gifted opportunity for those students who qualify based on their MAP results, ITBS and classroom grades. This is offered twice a week at every grade level. The program’s focus is in the area of Math with a specific emphasis placed on problem solving, teamwork, higher order thinking skills, and exposure to some concepts earlier than the grade level.
St. Thomas the Apostle prides itself in educating the whole child. In third and fourth grade, we offer an eight week Steps to Respect program which is an anti-bullying program. This nationally recognized program is taught by our Student Advisor and incorporates the learning of terminology related to bullying, cause and effect of respect/disrespect, preventative measures and reporting techniques for bystanders. Click here to learn more.
“Everyone matters and counts” is a faith-based character education class offered to all 5-8 grade students. The class is an extension of the “Steps to Respect” program offered to grades 3-4.
Topics included in EMAC are presented through the mediums of stories, role-playing, discussions, and personal journals. The virtues of respect, forgiveness, trust, and tolerance are core values of our faith and moral teachings and are revealed through age-appropriate lessons and activities for middle school students. Click here to learn more.
Religious Education and Faith Formation
From the time that you enter our building, it is our hope that you can see and feel the difference of our Catholic school culture and community. We pride ourselves in teaching core values that every student needs to become a compassionate and service minded citizen. We work, in partnership with our parents, to find teachable moments to show that with faith and God’s love we can reach far beyond ourselves.
Constantly Growing in Technology
In a technology driven society, it is important that we embed the skills and concepts needed for the 21st century learner. - All 18 classrooms are equipped with an interactive smartboard, as well as, four classroom computers.
In 2016 we replaced all of our technology in the computer lab. We now have 30 laptops in the lab.
Hands-On MakerSpace Lab- Fall of 2016- We are excited to announce the start of this lab that will increase student engagement and collaboration. It includes lots of hands-on manipulatives such as Ozobots and Little Bits, just to name a few.
In 2015, St. Thomas won a grant and purchased a 3D printer.
Students are exposed to elements of Coding throughout the grade levels.
We also have multiple mobile carts each housing 25 chromebooks. These carts are checked out by classroom teachers so that they may incorporate technology into their daily teaching.
In the Fall of 2017, all fifth and sixth grade classrooms will be 1:1 with chromebooks.
In the Fall of 2017, all seventh and eighth grade classrooms will have classroom sets of chromebooks.
All fourth-eighth grade classrooms use Google Suite for Education.
We have aligned our K-8th grade writing program to meet the rigorous demands of the National Standards. All students are exposed to a variety of forms with an emphasis on developing an awareness of form, structure, formal style, organization, sentence fluency, and voice in various formats and genres.
Fine Arts Programs
Band – St. Thomas the Apostle is fortunate to have our own in house band program which has grown to 40 members.
Art– Every classroom receives an Art lesson by a dedicated Art Teacher. The objective of our art program is to develop an understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of visual art as well as to identify and develop individual artistic talents in our students.
Drama – Students may explore their acting and drama skills through our school spring musical.
Spanish - Spanish is offered by a dedicated Spanish instructor once a week for K-4 and twice a week for 5-8 grades.
School wide, as well as, classroom service projects are fundamentally important to our mission here at STS. Our student council, as leaders in our building, help organize our annual Neighborhood House Toy Drive. STS partners with the Neighborhood House, which allows our students to help run their sale. In past years, every grade level has picked a project that they feel passionate about. Our seventh graders have partnered with PAWS to make blankets for the animals at the shelter, our second graders have gone and worked at the Midwest Food Bank counting and organizing their canned food, our current fifth grade, through an organization called KidKnits, are knitting hats and plan to donate these hats to the children at St. Jude. Our student enter St. Thomas the Apostle to learn, and exit to serve!