[The second installment in our ongoing series addressing some of the common questions about our 137-year-old school. Additional articles about activities, long-term planning, and other topics will be arriving shortly.]

St. Mary’s aligns its curriculum with the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (NSBECS). These standards and benchmarks were drafted by a national task force of Catholic school educators and supporters, in communication with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). The benchmarks were developed to articulate nationally defined characteristics and performance goals. The NSBECS acknowledge Catholic identity and culture as vital to the mission of Catholic education. Standards 7, 8, and 9 specifically address academic excellence. 

In 2020, the St. Mary’s School Board, as part of a three year strategic plan framework, ratified its vision, policies, and educational model to align more closely with the NSBECS. Our mission statement remains, “St. Mary’s High School exists to educate students in the Catholic tradition to be responsible, moral, critical thinkers and leaders well prepared for college and life.” Our vision states, “St. Mary’s will be a Christ-centered, financially robust school, providing a world-class education for an increasing number of students,” and thus academic excellence is a key part of our strategic goal to provide an exceptional academic environment for each student while ensuring the highest level of faculty and staff success. 

Catholic education is rooted in the conviction that Jesus Christ provides the most comprehensive and compelling example of the realization of full human potential. Our educational model, based on NSBECS, states that St. Mary’s is centered in the person of Jesus Christ as we hold that all truth, goodness, and beauty points to Jesus, who is the Truth. The model supports aligning our curriculum both horizontally across subject areas and vertically through the grade levels.Through differentiated instruction and a learner-centered approach, St. Mary’s is able to optimize student learning in a joyful environment. 

We understand that Catholic education must foster intellectual curiosity and analytical skills. St. Mary’s is committed to ensuring a culture where curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessment practices are informed by continuous assessment data through observation and testing. 

In the fall of 2021, academic requirements were updated as a part of the adoption of NSBECS addressing curriculum and instruction for 21st century learning.  St. Mary’s faculty has and will continue to collaborate in ways to facilitate student learning. In the fall of 2022, St. Mary’s faculty and staff will participate in an educator formation credential program to help them fulfill their ministerial role as a Catholic school teacher. Quality induction and professional development programs will be provided for all new teachers as we look toward ensuring academic excellence. 

In making a commitment to academic excellence, St. Mary’s will continue to strive to offer an exceptional college preparatory experience combining high expectations, rigor, and student engagement in a values-based Catholic environment. 


God Bless,

Robyn Cross

Next week:  How the 5 Essential Marks of a Catholic School play a part in St. Mary’s academics and educational philosophy.