By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 5, 2015
ATLANTA—Three Catholic schools are to receive a total of $1.63 million from The Goizueta Foundation to focus attention in the classroom on creativity and the sciences.
Marist School and Notre Dame Academy received separate grants from the private foundation to launch a STEAM-focused curriculum. Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School received money for its math and science faculty.
The grants are for the next three years.
- Notre Dame Academy, in Duluth, is receiving $450,000. The grant is the largest ever received by the independent Catholic school, specializing in an International Baccalaureate education program. The school is sponsored by the Marist order.
- Marist School is receiving $750,000 to kick-start a STEAM initiative during the next three years, including a collaborative teaching approach in five subject areas and bringing prominent speakers to campus.
- Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School is to receive $430,000 to support one math and one science teacher for the new Catholic high school.
The acronym STEAM reflects how schools are bringing together multidisciplinary teaching in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Teachers said the initiative promises to engage students more as they take what is learned in a classroom to tackle situations they observe.
“Students see why they are learning what they are learning,” said Cheryl Beshke, the middle years programme coordinator at Notre Dame Academy.
For instance, students at Notre Dame recently examined in detail what an ideal high school media center with its many services beyond serving as a library would look like. The final project is being presented to the school’s board of directors for consideration as the school is getting ready to expand to ninth grade.
The Goizueta Foundation grants expose students to problem-solving, engineering, and design components. The foundation has identified STEAM as a critical component of 21st century learning.
Beyond the classroom, Marist plans on bringing speakers in the areas of innovation and design thinking to campus to inspire faculty and students. The grant will also be used at Marist for a professional development program for faculty and administrators in STEAM and for the post of a coordinator who is a leader in STEAM education. The grant will also enable the school to create a designated endowment to support a long-term commitment to this initiative.
“Our partnership with The Goizueta Foundation allows us to firmly commit to a STEAM initiative which we believe will prepare students for success in an increasingly global and complex society,” said Marist Father John Harhager, school president.
Marist leaders said the STEAM efforts complement programs identified in a $35 million capital campaign to encourage interactive learning.
Notre Dame Academy has dedicated the grant to fund equipment and curriculum training. Some teachers received training in the program before school began in the fall.
It also allows the school to broaden its existing International Baccalaureate curriculum. It ties in with school’s expansion to high school, as it welcomes in the fall of 2015 its inaugural freshman class. It will include support to teachers through orientation and training. The grant will also provide equipment for the music, art and science programs.
“Notre Dame Academy is honored to receive this generous grant from The Goizueta Foundation,” said Debra Orr, head of school. “This grant comes at an exciting time for ND Academy and will allow us to implement and expand upon a number of important academic programs within our current grade levels and in the new high school.”