Diocesan News

Seton Trust Advances Catholic Education

Various programs in Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens are being made possible by grants from the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust. Three of these initiatives are: the CTB Online Reporting System, the Performing Arts Residency Program

Students in 21 academies and schools in the diocese participate in the Performing Arts Residency Program.
Students in 21 academies and schools in the diocese participate in the Performing Arts Residency Program.

and Option C.

CTB Online Reporting is an enhanced system which allows principals and teachers to analyze their school and student test data in a variety of ways including school summary reports, individual profiles and item analysis.

“The CTB online reporting system enabled our faculty to determine where our students’ weaknesses are and how we as a school can address those weaknesses,” said Robert DiNardo, principal at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy, Windsor Terrace, and chairperson of the Assessment Subcommittee for the diocese. “As a result of our analysis, we have instituted a writing program and are working with a math coach to strengthen those areas.”

For the first time, all academies and schools are now able to access their TerraNova Common Core test data via the CTB. In addition, principals and teachers received instructional data based on the New York State Testing Program in English language arts and mathematics.

“The goal of test data is to help principals and teachers make informed teaching decisions which in turn will increase student achievement,” said Diane Phelan, associate superintendent for evaluation of programs and students. “We would like to thank the Trust for providing these valuable services to our academies and schools which will assist them with the day-to-day work of teaching.”

The Arts Residency is a unique program created by members of Stages on the Sound, Inc., a nonprofit theatre company that has been partnering with diocesan Catholic schools since 2006.

“The Artists in Residency has been a wonderful addition to St. Anselm Catholic Academy this year,” said James McKeon, principal. “The artists who visit our school weekly are wonderful and engaging. They have brought a great deal of excitement to our classrooms and they have provided new educational experiences for our students. Students in the fourth grade are making a documentary short film, our sixth graders are writing scripts for plays and our eighth graders have read ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and will be performing on stage for their fellow students and their parents.”

The program serves 21 academies and schools. A team of two teaching artists spend an hour per week with each class over the course of 15 weeks.

“The students love this!” exclaimed John Fruner, principal at St. Joan of Arc School, Jackson Heights. “To our surprise, the eighth graders are loving the Shakespeare component. The actors are so wonderful with our students. Each week the students can’t wait to have their class. Even our more quiet, reserved students have blossomed into actors and actresses who want to learn more.”

“It is a colossal opportunity that the Trust has provided,” said Scott Barrow, education director for Stages on the Sound. “We have close to 2,000 students directly in the program, but the program is also designed to reach every student in every school involved. To create a culture of arts and art appreciation within each school as a whole, we have at least one theatrical offering which each student is able to attend. For instance, all of the students are invited to the Christmas show. They can take that back to their classrooms and talk about it together.”

Robert Choinere, managing director for Stages, said: “The Performing Arts Residency Program demonstrates the strong partnership between the Church and the arts in a way that empowers students helping them to dream big, to believe in themselves and to work together with one another to offer something new to the world. Our great hope is to continue this program both in other grades but also in many other schools with the support of both the Office of the Superintendent and the generosity of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, who makes it possible.”

Comprehensive Student Database

Option C is the web-based student management system used in the elementary academies and schools. Although other systems have been used in the past, the Option C system is the first one to be used diocesan-wide.

“The system has given our schools the ability to use technology to help them run their schools more efficiently,” said MaryAnn Spitz, client services manager of the diocesan information systems office.

Option C provides a wide range of services such as: a comprehensive student database, online grading, online attendance, system-generated report cards and parent portals. It has the capability for features to assist with lunch ordering, alumni tracking, websites and calendaring. Some schools also choose to use the Option C billing system to provide tuition invoices and track finances.

“Since a vast amount of student information is securely centralized in one place, school administrators can use various reports to plan and grow with the needs of their students,” said Spitz.

The student database allows for school administrators to keep student and family information in one online system such as medical information, sacraments, emergency contacts, etc. Each school can securely access the system using a valid user ID and password.

“With Option C, the Arts Residency Program, and the CTB Online Reporting System, we have much to be thankful for. On behalf of the rest of the Office of the Superintendent and the many leaders involved in Catholic education within our diocese, I would like to thank the Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust for its generosity. It has made a great difference in Catholic education,” said Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Schools.

The schools in the arts residency program will have a Film and Theatre Festival, April 12, 1:30-4 p.m. at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. The festival will feature students’ films and plays, and works from each school will be represented.arts_2sm