St. Joseph’s School’s commitment to the learning process is reflected in a curriculum that adjusts to the unique needs of individual students while respecting the rights, interests, and personal dignity of each child. The school’s sound academic curriculum prepares students to become productive members of society in a world that is becoming increasingly competitive. The curriculum at SJS encompasses the following subject areas: religion, language arts, reading (grades PK-5), literature (grade 6), mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, computer, Spanish, physical education, and media. Each student is required to participate in every subject area taught at his or her grade level. All curriculum is developed by the Diocese of Savannah and is based upon both national and state standards. The curriculum can be viewed at the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools website.
The Diocese of Savannah provides a continuously updated curriculum which is academically challenging, developmentally appropriate and in alignment with national and state standards in order to encourage life-long and self-reflective learners to grow in both intellectual wisdom and spiritual grace. Curriculum .Standards for all grades and all areas can be found here.
Religion is the heartbeat of SJS. The goal of the religion curriculum is to instill in students an enthusiasm for living the Catholic faith and to provide an in-depth religious education that includes experiences in prayer, the sacraments, and service, while stressing the integration of Christian principles into the total curriculum. All classes participate in weekly liturgies, celebrating a variety of themes that directly relate to everyday living. Students in grades 3 through 6 are offered the opportunity to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent and Lent, and Catholic students in 2nd grade are prepared for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. In addition, students celebrate special occasions such as feast days of patron saints, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with special programs and activities. As part of our Diocesan approved religious instruction program, the principles of Christian family life are integrated into the curriculum across all grade levels and include a focus on the sanctity of human life from conception to death. Students in 5th and 6th grade also receive instruction on human reproduction as part of this program.
Students put their faith into action through participation in various service projects. During the school year, SJS sponsors several drives for local organizations. At Thanksgiving and Christmas we conduct collections for the needy in our local community. Each week, food items are collected and distributed through Loaves and Fishes. Religion is the thread that weaves faculty, staff, students, and parents together.
All students, regardless of faith denomination, are expected to participate in the religious instruction offered at the school. Catholic families are expected to participate in weekly Sunday Mass. Students of other faiths are encouraged to attend the religious service of their choice each weekend.
The language arts curriculum incorporates reading, writing, speaking, listening, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary in assisting students with the acquisition of effective language skills. Besides focusing on reading and comprehension, the reading series in grades K-5 takes a linguistic approach to reading that emphasizes word attack skills (phonics and decoding strategies), language skills, and vocabulary. In grades 5 and 6, novels are used to introduce students to different literary genres and to integrate reading skills. An emphasis on vocabulary
development begins in the primary grades. Beginning in 4th grade, students use a vocabulary workshop series. Language arts in 6th grade focuses on grammar skills and different styles of oral and written communication. Students in grades 3 through 6 receive instruction in Latin to help reinforce English vocabulary development through a focus on the Latin roots used in the English language.
The study of mathematics as a means of exploring the world plays an integral role in the education of each student at St. Joseph’s School. While contributing to the development of the whole person, mathematics enriches life and provides students with practical tools for daily living. The school’s mathematics program exposes students to a wide variety of mathematical experiences. A hands-on approach to the basic mathematical ideas and concepts encourages children to experience mathematical relationships and inter-connections. Kindergarten through 6th grade students utilize a series of books with special attention given not only to the acquisition of the needed basic skills, but also to critical thinking and problem solving.
The science curriculum provides students with a basic knowledge of science as it relates to them and to their own experiences. The science program exposes students to a full range of activities through which science may be explored. Science develops and integrates basic knowledge, investigative experience and curiosity through student involvement.
Students begin with a study of their world, communities and regions, and their interactions. In 2nd grade, students are introduced to Georgia history and learn about the government of the United States. Third grade includes the study of the United States as well as economics. Fourth grade delves into the study of Native Americans and early U.S. history along with a deeper study of economics. Fifth grade focuses on U.S. history from the Civil War period to the present day and includes a study of the U.S. constitution. Sixth grade introduces students to a study of the world and its regions.
The fine arts curriculum develops and stimulates the artistic abilities inherent in all children. Art and music classes develop many valuable skills, including physical and mental coordination, self-expression, group participation, and cooperation. Opportunities are provided for students to showcase their talents.
All students gain a working knowledge of computers through classes in the computer lab. A wide range of software complements classroom instruction. Students learn proper keyboarding technique, as well as word processing skills. State-of-the-art multimedia computers enable students to conduct online research activities and utilize technology skills to creatively enhance learning and communicate effectively. Computers within the lab and throughout the school are networked for both Intranet and Internet usage.
Interactive white boards and LCD projectors are used by teachers in the classrooms to enhance their lessons. Sets of tablet computers are available for classroom use. The tablets are used for varied activities such as group projects, composing reports, conducting research, and enhancing overall classroom instruction.
Spanish is offered at SJS for PK3 through 6th grade. Major emphasis is placed on oral communication as students learn to tell basic information about themselves. Students acquire vocabulary and learn sentence structure by listening to Spanish spoken to them and then making connections through the use of media, visuals, and nonverbal communication.
Physical education classes assist in the development of physical, motor, and developmental skills, while teaching the importance of teamwork and providing lifetime fitness skills. Health topics are integrated into the physical education curriculum at all grade levels.
The school’s media center provides a wide range of teaching materials that play an integral role in enhancing the school’s instructional program. Use of these valuable resources helps to develop each student’s ability to effectively conduct research and retrieve information. Students are encouraged to visit the media center and check out books on a regular basis.
Student Success Center (SSC) & Challenge Program
St. Joseph’s School strives to meet the educational needs of all its students in the academic spectrum. Children who need additional academic support outside the classroom may be referred to the Student Support Center (SSC). SSC is a resource program designed to meet the learning style needs of students who have been recommended to the program. Coaching is available to those students who meet specified criteria. Early intervention is one of the goals of the program. Students meet individually or in small groups with concentration on reading and math skills, academic subject reviews, study skills, and test preparation. Qualifying, high achieving students may be recommended for the Challenge program which focuses on providing support and enrichment for students who are performing significantly above grade level in reading and math.
Student Success Team (SST)
Students in need of academic support in core subjects are referred to the SST or Student Success Team. This includes the Academic Coaches, Counselor and Principal. Discussion and collaboration with the classroom teacher occurs in order to develop strategies and opportunities for more practice and review of skills. Instructional support may be necessary through the intervention of our academic coaches either within the classroom or in a small group setting. Depending on the extent of the student’s learning difficulties, private tutoring and/or special testing may also be recommended. Parents are expected to provide daily reinforcement of skills, homework monitoring, and organizational materials.
All students at SJS have access to a licensed school counselor. The counselor functions as a resource for students on a day-to-day basis, but is not able to provide long-term counseling services. Parents of students in need of long-term counseling should seek the assistance of an outside professional. The school counselor does NOT function as a disciplinarian – that role is reserved for the classroom teacher and the principal. The school counselor instead provides a listening ear and shares strategies and exercises that may assist students in working through whatever issues they may be facing. The school counselor will keep confidential any information entrusted to them so long as no one’s life, health or safety is at risk. The counseling program is
part of the regular school program. As such, parental consent is not necessary for students to visit with the counselor; however, parents will be promptly notified of any concerns.
Materials and Resources
In general, materials and resources shown to be in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church and that have a valid educational purpose will be approved for use within the school. Parents who object to any materials used in the delivery of curriculum or any resources available to the students in the school may formally challenge the use of those materials by submitting a written letter to the school principal indicating the material(s) in question and the reason for the objection. The materials and resources in question will be reviewed by the school administration for appropriateness and educational validity.
Standardized Testing Program
Students in kindergarten through 6th grade will take the NWEA MAP at several points during the school year. The MAP will assess language arts, math and science skills and will allow teachers to track progress throughout the year and adjust instruction in order to best meet the individual needs of each child. The MAP is a computer adaptive assessment that takes approximately 45 minutes per subject to complete. Computer adaptive assessments adjust the difficulty of the questions according to the students’ abilities. The result is that the MAP produces more reliable results and causes less stress and frustration on the part of the student. Since the test is administered online, results are also available immediately. The NCEA IFG: ACRE, which stands for National Catholic Educational Association Information for Growth: Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education, is administered to students in 5th grade. This assessment enables the administration to evaluate the effectiveness of the school’s religious instruction program. It also provides an understanding of the students’ faith development. Parents will be notified as to the dates and results of the assessments.
Students attend Mass on a weekly basis, usually each Thursday, and other days as listed on the school calendar. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend these Masses. Please, no cameras or videos during our liturgies. This is NOT a performance; therefore, a prayerful atmosphere is to be maintained at all times until the celebration is over.