The mission of St. Christopher School challenges students to achieve their potential and build an awareness of their great worth as children of God capable of making significant contributions to others at home and throughout the world. The faculty of St. Christopher School is dedicated to making sure all students are actively engaged in lessons that will benefit them for years to come. Instruction based on the Indiana Academic Standards is delivered to students in a variety of strategies. These include field trips, guest speakers, differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, brain compatible teaching, and independent practice.
The skills taught in language arts lay the foundation for other areas of curriculum. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are developed not only during language arts class, but also across the curriculum. For example, students are encouraged to explain how they solve math problems in both written and oral communication forms. Utilizing a multi-sensory approach to the teaching of reading, students at St. Christopher develop strong reading skills for all curricular areas. This approach also facilitates differentiated instruction, thereby meeting the needs of gifted and talented learners as well as those who struggle. All students participate in daily reading, writing, and listening activities. Students at the fifth and sixth grade levels prepare the school website and produce a newspaper using essential skills developed in language arts.
Real world problems are the basis for the math curriculum at St. Christopher. The ability to problem solve is encouraged and developed in each student through the use of manipulatives and connections to the real world. Students solve daily problems, and at each grade level are encouraged to write their own problems. Students who leave St. Christopher find their transition to other schools to be smooth and are often placed in advanced math classes. According to a recent school survey, over two-thirds of the math teachers of former St. Christopher school students rated them as having excellent preparation for further math studies.
An inquiry approach to the teaching of science and social studies allows students to develop their problem solving abilities. By employing higher level thinking skills, students are challenged to think in a scientific manner. The use of experiments and a hands-on approach ensures that teachers are reaching all students. The school community mirrors the community at large, in that the students must respect and obey school rules, which are developed at the classroom level. Students are expected to be contributing members of the school community, and they learn their social studies lessons through this structure. Fifth and sixth graders participate in the JA Biztown project, while the entire school is involved in Junior Achievement. The use of projects, field trips, and guest speakers enhances the study of Indiana, United States, and world history. In the light of democratic and Catholic values, these studies help students to understand the important role that they play as citizens of the world.
Art, music, physical education, health, and technology are important parts of the St. Christopher School curriculum, and these areas work to support other curricular areas. Students participate in these classes twice a week, and the teachers of these special areas work closely with the classroom teachers to develop strong units. Theater and drama standards are met through a variety of classroom experiences and culminate in an all school production during Catholic Schools’ week. Students also participate in poetry recitation, Spell Bowl, and other academic meets. Weekly Mass participation affords another opportunity for public speaking and musical performance, since students serve as lectors, petition readers, choir members, and altar servers.
Reading instruction is based on a multi-sensory approach that is differentiated to meet the needs of all learners. Teachers provide students with a strong foundation in phonics and utilize additional instructional methods to build students’ comprehension skills. Students are taught to predict outcomes, compare and contrast different types of writings and perspectives, analyze informational texts, and reflect on their readings, all of which help them to connect writing and speaking to the text. St. Christopher School celebrates reading by having a contest where students guess which books are teacher favorites, by employing Book It by Pizza Hut, and by having students perform plays and puppet shows. Students participate in DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) on a daily basis, which encourages reading for pleasure by the students. Students also write and create their own books and share them with other students in the building. Older students pair up with younger students as reading buddies to encourage a love of reading. Finally, students and teachers share their opinions of different books on the school’s website.
Teachers utilize choral reading and rereading to increase fluency and to build comprehension. In addition, students are taught to use graphic organizers to help them organize the knowledge that they gain from reading informational text. Students are taught how to outline and to use pre-reading strategies, such as prediction, to gain more meaning from their reading text. In addition, students are asked to read different types of material, including novels, poetry, newspapers, magazines, the Bible, and informational text. At all grade levels, teachers read aloud to students on a regular basis, fostering a love of life-long learning and reading. Through these experiences, St. Christopher students are able to understand how reading expands their world.
Students at St. Christopher are often reminded that religion is the basis for the very existence of our school! We strive to provide an education that is permeated with Catholic values. Based on the Archdiocesan standards, classes at all grade levels focus on three main areas: doctrine, which includes the traditions, beliefs, and history of our faith; morality, which challenges our students to take these beliefs and make them active in their daily lives; and service, which offers opportunities for students to advance their faith journey while serving both God and others.
As part of the religion curriculum, the school has structured its discipline program around our religious values. The question, “What would Jesus do?” assists students in making behavioral choices. Students are taught to respect all life, which imposes a high standard for excellent behavior in the school. By emphasizing personal respect, students learn to regard their noise level and to follow the rules established by the church and school. By making our faith the basis for all activity in the school, students understand that religion is not just a class, but a way of life.
Students participate in weekly liturgy and many times, teachers base their lesson plans on this liturgy. Through liturgy, students read scripture and discuss the application of this scripture to their own lives. Priests and parish staff collaborate with the faculty to develop appropriate worship opportunities for the students. Study of the Holy Scriptures helps students build an understanding of how we should live and act as Catholics.
Prayer is a daily activity at St. Christopher School. Students learn different forms of prayer, including the rosary. They also learn the prayers of Mass and the Stations of the Cross. Additional opportunities for prayer occur during Advent and Lent.
Sacramental preparation is an important part of religious education at St. Christopher. Second graders prepare for reception of the Eucharist, while fourth graders receive the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. These activities further enhance the concepts of doctrine, morality, and service.
Service projects at St. Christopher are many. They include the collection of food for the parish food pantry. Gently used clothing is collected and distributed to those in need. Students serve the St. Christopher parish community by visiting the elderly, writing letters to shut-ins, and providing entertainment for the 55+ Club. Students also perform office and maintenance chores as necessary, thus providing them with a wide range of service opportunities that help them to understand the responsibility that they have to their parish and to God to serve as Jesus taught us.
Students in sixth grade take part in the Promise to Keep: God’s Gift of Human Sexuality program. This religious education curriculum emphasizes the importance of individual actions and consequences. Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the program involves high school students as mentors, and teaches students the negative consequences of sexual involvement before marriage. The program also covers such topics as how to deal with peer pressure and ways to develop healthy relationships.