St. Mary of the Mills School follows the curriculum standards set forth by the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Washington. Our philosophy emphasizes the uniqueness of each student and the need to help each child reach his or her full potential in a supportive academic environment. We are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS-CASI) through a partnership with AdvancED.
As a Catholic School, religious education is the cornerstone of our curriculum. The doctrine and dogma of the Catholic faith exist as the framework of our religious instruction. From there, we encourage students to explore and develop a personal faith relationship with God through a variety of formal and informal spiritual activities.
The curriculum for Early Childhood programs promotes the spiritual, emotional, aesthetic and intellectual growth of the young child in a thematic format*. Grades 1 – 8 include formal instruction in religion, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Additionally, St. Mary of the Mills provides instruction in the following: computer education, music, art, physical education, media use and research, Spanish, advanced math and guidance. We utilize differentiated instruction and other research-based teaching strategies and techniques that promote individual student success.
St. Mary of the Mills School participates in regular, on-going curriculum evaluation and modification as directed by the Archdiocese of Washington. Using the process of Curriculum Mapping, all teachers within the Archdiocese of Washington are examining the taught curriculum and comparing it to nationally recognized standards to determine appropriate goals and objectives which will serve as the framework for the new Archdiocesan Curriculum. This process will be repeated annually, focusing on a different subject each year.
St. Mary of the Mills School administers nationally recognized standardized tests selected and approved by the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Washington. The results of these tests are interpreted and used as an additional measure of identifying strengths and weakness within our taught curriculum. Curriculum adjustments are made accordingly to benefit the students.
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The primary students at St. Mary’s are immersed in a language-rich, integrated curriculum that is characterized by developmentally appropriate lessons and activities, flexible grouping, children as decision makers, writing across the curriculum, and child-centered teaching that respects individual differences. Even at this young age, critical thinking and questioning skills are being nurtured. Teachers use a variety of assessment techniques, both authentic and traditional, to help make judgments concerning individual needs and for future planning.
The language arts are taught through many types of literature with skills being introduced in context and practiced in authentic settings. The goal of the program is to not only teach the children the mechanics of reading and writing but also to develop children who choose to read and write. The mathematics curriculum is based on the current NCTM standards (curriculum currently under review by the Archdiocese of Washington see above). Students are encouraged to explore concepts using manipulatives and hands-on activities and to apply those concepts in problem solving. Computation is emphasized as well to further develop and refine basic math skills. Science, Social Studies and Religion concepts are integrated into Language Arts and Math as well as being taught in independent lessons to give the students a more expansive view of our world and our God. Their education is rounded out with regular instruction in physical education, music, art, library sciences, computer technology, and foreign language. Our second graders prepare for and receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. Above all, the teachers in the primary grades are committed to providing experiences that will inspire young children to become active, life-long learners.
The intermediate grades continue to emphasize many of the curricular “hallmarks” of the primary grades – a language-rich environment, developmentally appropriate activities and a nurturing of critical thinking skills. Understanding that these are the transition years between the primary grades and middle school, attention is also paid to providing experiences that encourage growth in responsibility and independence.
In the intermediate grades the students explore the writers’ craft both to learn basic skills in grammar and writing and also to become more critical readers. They also come to appreciate and enjoy literature purely as an art. The math objectives include an exploration of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents with attention given both to skills in calculation and problem solving. In social studies the children progress from the knowledge of their immediate environment to a national and global awareness. In science the students learn to use the Scientific Method to explore earth, life, chemical, and physical science. Spiritual and moral development of the children is guided by an increasing knowledge of the Church’s teachings, service to the community, and worship opportunities. Art, music, computer technology, library sciences, physical education and foreign language are also incorporated into the curriculum to promote the development of the whole child.
At this level students are becoming more independent and are given experiences where they can accept more responsibility for their own learning under the guidance of supportive teachers. The curriculum is structured with respect for the transitional nature of this age student and their need for both guidance and autonomy.
The study of literature in the middle school covers all genres and gives the students an understanding of the nature of literature as well as how writers can reflect the times in which they live through their works. Process writing helps the students become better writers both mechanically and expressively. The social studies curriculum empowers the students to discover more about the world’s geography, its people, its resources and its history. The students then focus more directly on our own country’s history. Preparation for algebra is the basis for the middle school math program (Algebra I is offered to qualifying students). Instruction is differentiated as needed to address the needs of all students. In science, earth, life, and physical sciences are all taught, a different one being the focus each year. The students study both the New and the Old Testaments in their religion classes and the seventh and eighth grades prepare to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The middle school curriculum is complemented by instruction in music, art, physical education, foreign language, computer technology, and library sciences.