Bishop Kearney High School in Irondequoit will expand its curriculum and plans to hire three Nazareth Academy veteran educators, administrators and coaches, school officials announced March 18.
According to a Kearney press release, the curricular and staffing additions are intended to both appeal to current Nazareth Academy students and to enhance the curriculum for current Kearney students.
In February officials with the Nazareth Schools — which comprise Nazareth Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school of grades 9 to 12, and Nazareth Hall, a coeducational preschool, elementary school and middle school for students through eighth grade — announced the schools’ merger with the coeducational Aquinas Institute in the fall. Since that announcement, Nazareth Academy’s freshmen, sophomores and juniors have been courted by high schools from throughout the area.
As part of the March 18 announcement, Kearney said it will hire Christopher Belmont, Nazareth’s athletic director and a longtime basketball coach and teacher; William McKee, an administrator, teacher and soccer coach at Nazareth; and Bret Miller, Nazareth’s music department coordinator and vocal-music teacher.
Belmont, Nazareth’s varsity basketball coach for 17 years who has logged 300 wins and nine Section 5 titles, will help build enrollment in a newly created position as Kearney’s student affairs director.
McKee, the vice principal at Nazareth Academy since 2003, will teach full time in Kearney’s social studies and religion departments and will serve as a liaison to the principal’s new Nazareth Student Advisory Council, which will integrate Nazareth student culture into Kearney. Belmont and McKee will become program assistants in their respective sports and will work collaboratively with Kearney’s girls’ varsity head coaches: Kevan B. Sheppard Jr. for basketball and Paul Forte for soccer.
Miller, Nazareth’s music department coordinator since 2003, will enhance Kearney’s vocal-music and arts program; his appointment will be provisional and based on student enrollment. Donna Dedee, Kearney’s president and chief executive officer, noted that all three men are highly regarded by their colleagues and in the community, and said the school is fortunate to be able to hire them.
"We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest in Bishop Kearney from Nazareth faculty who are wonderful teachers," Dedee said. "Unfortunately, I can’t hire them all, but if we were to have a boom in enrollment, I would consider by necessity expanding our faculty base."
In curriculum enhancements, Kearney announced that students will be able to choose new in-depth elective courses centered around major areas of interest: visual and musical arts, business, communications, engineering, humanities or science. Students will be required to take four credits of electives in their major areas of interest.
The curriculum expansion is intended to build on the school’s career-focused College Prep. Plus curriculum, which was launched in 2007 through a partnership with area billionaire B. Thomas Golisano.
The Major Area of Interest program will launch in the fall of 2010, with incoming freshmen receiving the full-scale launch and being subject to the new graduation requirements as the program is implemented over the next four years. Some new electives will be available to returning Kearney students next year.
As part of the new program, all incoming freshmen will be required to take a semester course in basic or advanced computer applications and a semester course in career surveys, instead of taking 2.5 credit hours of introduction to business, leadership and ethics and personal-finance courses. They would then select a Major Area of Interest as a sophomore.
The expansion of electives would allow the school to add such courses as advanced placement European history, government and physics; engineering courses; public speaking; women in literature; and "Nature’s Fury," a course on storms and natural disasters, said Julie Locey, Kearney’s principal.
"I have a very good staff and faculty that are willing to create these new things," Locey said.
As of March 18, more than 50 Nazareth Academy students have shadowed students at Kearney, Dedee said, noting that five students have finished registering at the school and dozens are in process. Nazareth Academy students are being encouraged to register soon, since Kearney is in the process of distributing financial aid and has committed to maintaining the financial-aid packages that Nazareth Academy students currently receive.
"We’re really happy with the response and pleased that we are appealing to them as an alternative as they look to finish their education," she said.