To meet the needs of young people, Catholic schools frequently assess student learning as well as their social-emotional growth, said school leaders.
Catholic schools also provide mentoring to new teachers, helping them understand their role as Catholic educators, said the Office of Catholic Schools staff in a recent interview.
“It’s all about student learning, that’s at the heart,” said Amy Nall, assistant superintendent of schools. “Supporting new teachers is key to students’ learning.”
The Catholic schools office staff — and the Archdiocese of Louisville’s 39 grade schools and nine high schools — are inviting families to learn more about Catholic schools this coming week, the national Discover Catholic Schools Week, Nov. 12 to 18.
Local schools will be holding open houses and offering tours for prospective families, too.
Reflecting on what makes Catholic schools tick, the schools office staff said that meeting student needs is at the heart of it all.
Meeting their needs begins with assessing where they are, said Mary Parola, school improvement and professional learning specialist. To measure academic growth, schools use MAP assessments, which gauge reading, math and language usage over the course of a school year.
The Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Schools Office plans professional learning opportunities, where teachers get the time to look at data and assess what it means for their classroom, said Parola.
Analyzing the data helps teachers design individualized lessons, she said.
Social-emotional growth is measured by Friendzy, a character development program designed to help students live their faith, face difficulties and develop resilience, among other skills, she said. Students in preschool through eighth grade are assessed in the fall and spring.
Preparing teachers, particularly those who are new to the classroom, is important to students’ learning and to the retention of staff, said the school leaders.
When teachers feel they’re “part of a community that supports them, they’re more likely to stay,” said Nall.
Nall noted that each new teacher is assigned a mentor by their principal. This mentor serves as an “expert guide,” she said.
New teachers receive formal support through professional development. And there’s “targeted professional learning” for new teachers that covers certain skills, such as how to use MAP data during conferences with parents and building a Catholic culture.
Mentoring is also meant to help teachers new to Catholic education understand their role as Catholic school teachers, Nall added.