Technology will be strength of remaining schools - Catholic Courier

Technology will be strength of remaining schools

When Rochester’s Sacred Heart School and Holy Rosary School merged in 2005 to form Cathedral School at Holy Rosary, the combined facility had first pick of the computers and other technology from Sacred Heart, as well as first priority on such furniture as desks and tables.

“We were able to bring over a lot of the best equipment, and it worked out really well,” said Kathy Dougherty, principal of the merged school.

A similar silver lining may emerge from the latest round of diocesan school closings, according to Sister of St. Joseph Margaret Mancuso, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools.

“All equipment and software programs purchased by our schools — other than what came through government funds (such as No Child Left Behind Act funding) — will follow the children to other schools in the system,” Sister Mancuso said.

She noted that many diocesan classrooms are rich in technology, including such equipment as computers, digital cameras, digital projectors and one or more interactive white boards. Donated items, such as two digital white boards given to each WIN School in Rochester this year by philanthropist Peggy Wegman will be moved to other schools within the Catholic schools system.

Today, the emphasis for teachers is on integrating technology into every subject, rather than teaching simply how to use a piece of equipment, Sister Mancuso said.

“It’s a tool for the children to use when they need to do research or their word processing,” she said. “Children in the early grades are doing PowerPoint presentations.”

Teachers also are trained year-round on integrating technology into the classroom, and can take advantage of a teacher-training center at Rochester’s St. John Neumann School, where they can participate in workshops on incorporating technology into their curricula, she said.

She noted several examples of this integration, such as when students at St. Agnes School in Avon spoke live with a researcher in Madagascar via satellite while the students were studying the rain forest in 2006. Sister Mancuso said she also has seen first- and second-grade students survey their fellow students and use computers to create bar graphs of the results.

“They used to draw a bar graph, but now they are using a computer to do it,” she said. “It is a tool integrated into the life of the school.”

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