By SHERI DAHL
Special to The New Vision
The air is charged with the smell of new crayons…the buzz in the Back-to-School aisles of department stores…children taking their last splashes in the neighborhood pools…all in anticipation of the start of a new school year.
In the midst of all the back-to-school buzz, what most people do not see, hear, or feel is the heavy-duty planning going on among teachers and principals in the Diocese of Tucson’s 26 Catholic schools – from seating charts to scheduling, all are in a flurry of mind-to-mind collaboration.
Two areas of focus that dominate school planning are our Catholic faith and our curriculum.
The latest buzz in education focuses on “Common Core Standards,” which translates into learning standards that were developed for states that want to share a common set of learning expectations in the core curriculum areas of math, reading, and language arts.
Last May, diocesan teachers dug into the math standards through a series of workshops developed by the Department of Catholic Schools in collaboration with Notre Dame ACE Collaborative for Curriculum and Instruction. The result of those efforts is an organized math curriculum that our Catholic schools will begin implementing this fall.
The next two years we will be working on the new Reading/Language Arts standards, so stay tuned!
As Catholic schools, fortunately, we have the privilege of reaching well beyond the “three R’s” into the very depths of our faith and helping children to grasp the concept of a loving God that transcends every aspect of their lives. If we succeed in that goal, all other academic successes will follow.
We work with our teachers to understand the importance of continuing to learn about our Catholic faith themselves and then to integrate the teachings of our Church in all aspects of the school day:
LEARN your faith,
BELIEVE what you learn,
TEACH what you believe,
LIVE what you teach!
If we do the math and multiply our 26 schools by the number of opportunities our approximately 7,000 students receive, both academically and spiritually, the answer is “infinite”!
We are especially grateful to Tucson Values Teachers and Walgreen’s stores for hosting another back to school supply drive for our teachers’ classrooms. They understand the volume of paper, Kleenex, glue, markers, etc., that teachers go through in the course of a year!
Last year, with the help of business sponsors and individual donors, Tucson Values Teachers provided us with 17 large boxes of brand new supplies that we then distributed to some of our schools. Their campaign runs until Aug. 13. Interested in donating? Contact them via their website: http://www.tucsonvaluesteachers.org/
Note: Sheri Dahl is assistant superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Tucson.