In Primary School (Pre-K 3 to 5th Grade), a foundation is laid for a lifetime of learning. At Saint Theresa Catholic School, we support students in developing good scholastic habits. Our aim is to foster both inquisitiveness and discipline in our students. The classroom culture at STCS is one of constant, orderly engagement which insists that every child is capable of achieving our standards of excellence.
While offering an exceptionally high level of instruction in Mathematics and Language Arts, much care, from an early age, is given to developing well-rounded students. We use the Singapore Math Series (Pre-K to 8th Grade) at STCS because we believe that Singapore promotes true mastery of mathematical concepts and deep understanding of real-world applications of them. Our science program is designed specifically to develop the analytical thinking skills necessary to support advanced scientific enquiry and achievement. At this level, we teach writing and reading through the Spalding Method. In addition to a concentrated focus on grammar, poetry, and public speaking, students engage in the study of conversational Latin, Art, P.E., Music, Vocabulary, Geography, Drama, and Religion.
So many young people have little meaningful instruction in art; few students today know the satisfaction of making something beautiful with one’s own hands, while understanding such achievement as a reflection of God’s own work as Creator. At Saint Theresa Catholic School, we are committed to the idea that everyone should be an artist—we have Art in every grade, Pre-K thru 8th. Long after our students have left this brick building and shaded sidewalks, when they are 40 or 50, we want them to feel invigorated by their ability to paint, draw, or sculpt what a lifetime of experience has enabled them to see and feel.
Our Art program focuses heavily on drawing, painting, and sculpting. Historically, and developmentally, these disciplines are foundational to so many other forms of artistic expression. We also focus on different periods, media, and schools of art as a conscious reinforcement of the historical periods that students are exploring in each grade level. Through these media and methods we give our students, “eyes to see” the multivalence of the world, to see deeply within themselves and within human experience, to see and mimic the artistry of God.
By these same means, we also enable them to see with the eyes of their forebears in the faith and in history.
We think of Art as a mixture of work and play. Our classes dynamically move from collaborative to individual projects all under the gentle guidance of a mature and accomplished artist. We work hard to bring out the best in each student and every student showcases their best work in the two art exhibitions we put on every year.
At STCS students develop a taste for the finer things; they can appreciate excellence when they see it, and they truly find joy and satisfaction in creating a portfolio of meaningful work.
Children can only be globally minded if they know where countries are located. At STCS, students therefore spend considerable time in Pre-K through third grade learning to locate all the countries of the world as a part of their studies in Geography.
In fourth through sixth grade, after students can identify every country on the globe, geography lessons are then geared to introduce students to the major cultures of the world. We focus on the language, religion, dress, food, music, history and customs of the major countries of the main regions of the world. These studies are reinforced in our annual International Day celebration, where we focus on the Catholicity of our parish and community, celebrating the prayers, saints, and Marian Apparitions, and eucharistic miracles encountered throughout history and around the world.
Seventh through eighth grade students also learn about and discuss contemporary global politics. Students are asked to research competing viewpoints surrounding a particular issue, to take a side, and defend that position in a debate forum.
In keeping with our focus on helping students to become their best selves, we concentrate on History to acquaint students with the highest ideals, causes, and ideas that human beings have conceived and served over the centuries. History provides students with a context for measuring cowardice, rashness, sagacity, ignorance, mercy, love, and fidelity in the context of living examples, both noble and ignoble, in the major events and figures of Western society. These studies equip STCS students to think through the challenges of the present precisely because they have received an education that is so insistent on the importance of the past. Owing to our classical and Catholic orientation to education, significant time is devoted to Ancient Israel as well as to Greek, Roman, and Medieval history. These periods and cultures receive primary emphasis as the sources and context of the Gospels and the life and work of Jesus Christ.
Second graders study Greek (fall term) and Roman (spring term) mythology, while third graders study Greek (fall term) and Roman (spring term) History. In fourth grade, students begin a five-year sequence of Western Civilization studies that culminates in the eighth grade with the major events of the 20th and 21st centuries.
While much time is given to learning the facts of history and exploring these questions of character and virtue in Socratic seminars, another major focus is on developing close reading and strong writing skills. This includes learning modules where we carefully analyze the logical flow and rhetorical form of well-chosen texts by major ancient historians, such as Livy, Herodotus, and Caesar. By these means studies in History reinforce lessons in building excellent prose writing skills at STCS.
Our Language Arts curriculum is aimed to engender a love for beautiful expression, whether written or spoken, and a love for the beauty of that thing which is beautifully expressed. This love affair is ignited, in primary and middle school, when teachers model the structure and elegance of the English language at its finest. We model such expression in a number of ways, including these:
- The telling and re-telling of Fables and Fairy Tales
- The study of Phonics
- Memorization and recitation of outstanding Poetry
- Mastery of Dictation and Copying
- Consistent attention to the finer points of Grammar
Saint Theresa Catholic School guides students along the three-fold path of the classical curriculum of education called the Trivium. The Trivium consists of the three Liberal Arts (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) that are the focal points of education for children during the Primary, Middle School, and High School years. Our Primary School education is designed to move students into our Middle School Language Arts program which focuses heavily on writing, analysis, and logical expression.
The study of Latin in Primary School is a time-honored tradition with a long track record of success. Children who study a classical language typically score 12 to 15 percentage points higher on standardized tests. This impressive outcome results in large part from the fact that the grammar of classical languages is complex, and mastery of them therefore expands a child’s capacity for intricate thought. At STCS, Latin is taught as a living language in grades 1-6. We want our students to feel comfortable with Latin, believing that the best way to develop Latin readers is to develop their conversational skills. Our focus in studying Latin is primarily cultural. Through years of consistent Latin training, our children are being oriented in a powerful way to the classics of Western literature. This foundation prepares them for reading Saint Augustine and Julius Caesar in the original when students enter 7th and 8th grades.
Because Latin is mother tongue of so many of European languages, it is an excellent introduction to all the Romance languages, making it relatively easy for our students to master Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc. A good Latin student already knows around 80% of the vocabulary that he or she will encounter in the romance languages. At STCS, Latin language studies are complemented with explorations in Spanish, starting in 6th Grade.
At STCS, we believe that whatever a person does in life, he or she needs to be able to speak well, think well, write well, and read well. Almost all of these emphases start with reading. We therefore do a lot of reading at STCS. We deliberately avoid textbooks crafted to standardized tests, focusing instead on primary texts and literary classics. In the younger years, we teach phonics through the Writing Road to Reading, moving students to Early Readers in Kindergarten and First Grade.
In Second through Eighth Grade, our students regularly discuss Literature through Socratic Seminars. Everyone reads the same works and, under the suggestive guidance of a teacher, wrestles with the larger questions of life that good Literature raises. Below are some examples of classics read and discussed by students at STCS. Some samples of annual reading cycles are:
- 2nd Grade: Amos and Boris, The Adventures of Bob White, One Hundred Dresses, The Velveteen Rabbit, Rabbit Hill
- 3rd Grade: Charlotte’s Web, Pinocchio, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Princess and the Goblin
- 4th Grade: The Hobbit, The Magician’s Nephew, The Silver Chair, The Last Battle
- 5th Grade: Eagle of the Ninth, King Arthur, Robin Hood, The Prince and the Pauper, I, Juan de Pareja
Mathematics is studied in a deliberately methodical way at Saint Theresa Catholic School. Our students typically average within the top 15% of the country in their math test scores.
Given the highly abstract and conceptual nature of Mathematics, we teach the subject in a conceptual as opposed to a formulaic manner. We use the Singapore Math Series (K-8th grade) because the program fosters an intuitive, not a mechanical approach to mathematical concepts. We also rely on the Singapore Math approach for its strong curricular connections between concepts and manipulatives. In short, the best way for children to grasp concepts, is to allow them to grasp things. The Singapore curriculum is built on that important educational insight.
At Saint Theresa Catholic School, our Music program primarily consists of vocal instruction through the Ward Method. The Ward Method was developed to teach American Catholic school children the fundamentals of Music so that they would be able to sing the vast repertoire of Sacred Music which is a part of the Roman Catholic Church’s hymnic tradition. The Ward Method is unique in that it has a basis in Gregorian chant. The Ward Method also teaches modern musical notation and song. We have after-school and liturgical choirs (Little Flowers, Flos Cantum, etc.) that enable students to build on the vocal instruction they receive during the school day.
We also offer instrumental lessons to our student body after school. For example, we offer piano, violin, and guitar, with many public performance opportunities. In short, we want to develop a culture of music at Saint Theresa Catholic School and we fully believe that Music, like math and science, should be a part of the lives of all our students.
At STCS, Physical Education is an essential part of our mission to educate the whole child. It is important in the younger years to develop healthy habits of an active life which will enrich their lives for years to come. While some schools reduce physical education to improve performance in “core subjects,” at STCS we insist on P.E. and Recess every day for all students in grades Pre-K through 5. Our motto is mens sana in corpore sano for we believe that an active physical life aids a healthy mind. We also deliberately incorporate the mission and identity of Catholic education into our P.E. curriculum, through a unique focus on patron saints and different sports or developing different neuro-motor systems and coordination and skill of different body parts.
Physical Education is also intended to introduce our students to the value of sports. Sports, properly engages, is a great venue for character formation. Through sports, we learn endurance, patience, sacrifice, and teamwork. At Saint Theresa Catholic School, Physical Education is an essential part of our mission to educate the whole person.
Saint Theresa Catholic School takes its mission statement quite seriously.
We furnish students with an outstanding Classical education informed by the wisdom of the Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition. We provide a rigorous Liberal Arts curriculum that gives our students a firm foundation in faith and morals. By these means, we strive to form students who have a genuine love of God and the Church and who are prudent, compassionate, kind, courageous, and generous in their service of one another and to others.
Therefore, it is somewhat misleading to think of Religion as one subject among many. Religion pervades all that we are, all that we teach, and everything that we hope to accomplish with and for our students in the service of our families. Students attend weekly mass and frequently visit our Lord in the Emmaus Chapel. Through his Eucharistic Body, our Lord is constantly calling our students to a deeper, richer, and more holy life. At STCS, teachers feel a calling to cooperate with our Lord in cultivating a religion of the heart. As an academically rigorous institution, however, we also insist that religion is also a matter of the intellect. We have, therefore, Religion classes daily. Students are catechized to know the Mass, their prayers, Holy Scripture, moral theology, church history—in short, the Holy Catholic Faith.
The Primary School Science curriculum offers graduated and systematic exposure to many scientific disciplines (e.g. Physical, Biological, and Astronomical Sciences), but the curriculum is unified in a number of ways. First and foremost, we are concerned to help our students think scientifically. This, of course, involves weekly science labs that develop the skill of scientific discovery and verification. But as the curriculum develops in the upper grades (5th through 8th grade), Mathematics and technology are intentionally integrated into the classroom. The history of Science is one of advancement through the mutual exchange of theory and technology, and our Science curriculum is a unique blend of STEM, and what in earlier generations was called “Natural Philosophy.” Saint Theresa Catholic School is also committed to teaching every discipline in the full living context of the subject. Just as Latin is conversational, and Art is taught from the standpoint of Art History rather than mere technique, Science classes prioritize the study of living organisms, habitats, and species interactions within a given ecosystem.