There is something about September I look forward to each year. This month means a new beginning to me, and as always is a time for learning new information and employing new skills. Over the years I have experienced September as a Catholic-school student, a Catholic-school teacher and principal, and, since 1990, as an assistant superintendent for the Diocese of Rochester’s Department of Catholic Schools staff.
I began teaching in 1965 when technology use meant overhead projectors, filmstrip projectors and the sometimes challenging 16-millimeter movie-projector machine. The Rochester and Oswego children I taught learned from textbooks, encyclopedias, magazines and newspapers, and, of course, from their teachers. Students bought textbooks new or worked out a way to purchase them secondhand. In my early years as an Elmira principal, parents and guardians participated in parent-teacher conferences whose format often suggested that information on student progress was dispensed one way from teacher to parents. What was said or done in school was seldom questioned at home.
That world is gone. Today’s learning takes place in a world that, more than any time in the past, involves multiple modes of teaching and learning. Students become independent learners, equipped for learning beyond the classroom. Teachers employ teaching techniques that address the diverse learning styles of students. Teachers are proficient in educational technology and involve students using computers and doing online research. They can even view an active volcano on the Internet! Students use technology to improve writing and problem-solving skills. They present PowerPoint reports and burn CDs to take home to show their families.
Catholic-school teachers and administrators teach the faith, build Christian community, and challenge students and families to serve others without distinction. Catholic-school graduates are problem solvers, and their faith informs their research and their decisions. Our students and their families live their faith in a world full of choices and complexity.
As for me, my workdays are full of computers, federal grant programs and legal questions.
I look forward to this new school year. Parents, guardians, students and alumnae will see innovative Web pages that communicate information about diocesan and local Catholic-school programs. Students will be able to access World Book Encyclopedia online and NetTrekker Research Tool in school and at home. New computers have been purchased and older computers upgraded, thanks to parent advisory committees and No Child Left Behind federal title funding. Title funding will allow teachers to attend professional development in-services to improve teaching techniques. Academic intervention services will continue to be integral to academic programs, with teachers assisting parents in creating a safe and responsive environment for student growth and learning.
A new beginning! September is that kind of time for students, families, administrators and Catholic Schools office staff. Happy new year, 2004-05!
Sister Carroll is assistant superintendent, government services and administration, for the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools.