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St. Michael’s Staff Goes Above and Beyond

January 25, 2013
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - At St. Michael's, the administration is proud of our highly qualified teachers, our rigorous, faith-based curriculum, our commitment to stewardship, our students' strong work ethic, and our visionary technology program. We strive to educate the "whole" student - mind, body and soul - each and every day. We cannot imagine doing anything less.

Our leadership looks toward the future with enthusiasm and excitement - the programs and tools we put in place will successfully prepare our students for their next educational milestones - high school, college and beyond - and for their lives as future members of a new global society. Our faculty and staff embrace their roles as mentors and are eager to investigate the latest technology tools that will best serve our students, as indicated by our school theme for 2012-13, "Our Staff Goes Above ... Our Students Go BEYOND."

"Our teachers realize that the gift of a Catholic education from St. Michael's is special," says Principal Lee Gruber. "We don't take anything for granted and know that we must continually strive to enhance our curriculum and research educational trends to best serve our students. And just as important as challenging our students academically is the need to nurture strong character traits and a love for faith and stewardship."

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Gruber said one of his goals for 2013 is to create a new science lab facility within the school that will serve all students in grades preschool through grade 8. Through funding from private donors and local foundations, the lab will house state-of-the-art equipment and technology, lab workstations, and necessary safety equipment to allow the science teachers to dig deeper in their instruction of physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, life science and astronomy. The lab will be constructed over the upcoming summer.

Additionally, over the coming year, a full evaluation of St. Michael's Junior High iPad Program will take place giving special attention to the lessons learned and enhancements that are necessary to make the program even stronger.

"Our iPad Program has been a tremendous success," junior high teacher Sarah Kilpatrick said. "The apps on the iPads allow students to work on their own level, which is a huge benefit if the student is above or below grade level. Another advantage is that we can assess the students on many more levels using the iPad.

"For instance, using the Basic Fraction app, I can see how many problems the student got correct, as well as the amount of time it took him to solve those problems."

Currently, St. Michael students have access to 69 educational and utility-type apps, but more are expected to be added in the coming weeks.

Kilpatrick says the iPads have been very beneficial to teachers, as well.

"As a teacher, I love the fact that our students are actively using iPads," she said. "They can email their assignments and take more organized notes, and there's automatic grading so students know instantly how they did on an assignment or quiz.

"But what I love most is that the students really enjoy learning - they want to take quizzes to see how they're doing in a particular class or subject."

In the next five years, Kilpatrick says she expects the school will expand the program so that individual iPads will be issued to all sixth graders - approximately 30-35 students - and more 10- and 20-pack "iPad banks" will be placed in classrooms in the lower grades, such as the third and fourth grades, for student sharing.

With St. Michael's enrollment exceeding 350 students, Gruber says the future continues to be bright for the school and its students.

"We know who we are and where we're headed," Gruber said. "We plan to remain a premier Catholic grade school by doing what we do best - providing an outstanding academic program that incorporates the latest educational technologies and tools, and giving our students a strong foundation in faith and stewardship on which they can rely for years to come."

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