Academic Excellence at Lourdes Academy
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Lourdes Academy stands out among other public and private schools by preparing students for academic excellence and developing student leaders
Ask an educator how to measure a students’ academic achievement, and that answer will NOT be a standardized test score. Standardized tests can help measure a student’s progress over a period of time, but not how much they know.
A new approach to academic achievement
Lourdes Academy takes a different, proactive approach to academic excellence. Lourdes Academy Director of Student Services, Amy Matzke, has been an educator at our school for 10 years. She now is responsible for ensuring all students are achieving their full academic potential – that could mean additional challenges or special remediation to remain at grade level.
“We are catching problems early, so they don’t become major issues,” said Matzke. “We are having lots of small successes that are leading to big achievements. We are helping the students over time, and they are thriving because of that support.”
Matzke focuses her academic work with students on the foundation she learned from the University of Notre Dame’s Program for Inclusive Education (PIE). It’s a model that prepares schools to educate all children regardless of academic, behavioral, social, emotional or physical need.
“Our team can pull students out of the classroom and give individualized attention,” says Matzke. “But we also can push into the classroom and to support more students and the teacher if needed in a certain area. It’ truly is a team effort.”
Because Matzke is involved with every classroom teacher at Lourdes Academy, opportunities to improve academic achievement are addressed immediately.
Hands-on Teaching and Technology
Lourdes Academy teachers team teach and work on lesson plans collaboratively. At the middle school level, they look for ways to create hands-on learning opportunities that cross over subject lines and maximize efficiencies.
“We look for opportunities to team teach,” says Melanie Wilson, middle school language arts teacher. “Students may be reading a historical fiction book that touches on social justice, so we pull in language arts, social studies and religion all in one assignment.”
Lourdes Academy Middle School students are assigned a take-home Chromebook for the year to complete assignments and collaborate with classmates. The students use Google Classroom to engage with each other and teachers.
“Technology makes them more engaged,” said middle school science teacher Leslie Powers. “It allows them to do more than write. They can be creative with video, slide shows and presentations. We also have the ability to fairly do online quizzes and tests for students using the Chromebook.”
The technology helps students prepare for the work world of electronic collaboration that they will enter in the coming years.
Part of the Academic Achievement model at Lourdes Academy focuses on growing future leaders. Especially at the middle school level, students are encouraged to express their opinions and create the change they want to see in the world. Lourdes Academy students have launched a student newspaper and an award-winning community service group called F.I.R.E. – Fighting Inequality, Respecting Equality. A group of middle school students held a school-wide pajama collection drive after learning about foster children in the community who often have no time to pack up any of their belongings before being removed from their homes – not even a pair of pjs. The students gathered pajamas, toothbrushes and a stuffed animal and placed them inside a bag for foster children who must leave their residence quickly for their safety. The students won the Diocese of Orlando’s Mother Teresa award for community service for their efforts.
Academic excellence includes leadership – Lourdes Students are taking this to the next level. Lourdes students are coming into our Catholic High School, Fr. Lopez, as leaders at the high school level and are academically prepared for success.
Learning doesn’t end at the end of the school day. It’s an opportunity for students to participate in peer tutoring, additional STEM education, homework club, music, sports and more. The after-school care program is a structured environment where students get a snack, start on homework, and have time to socialize until their ride home arrives.
There are more than 15 after-school activities offered to Lourdes Academy students, many of them involve additional educational opportunities.
If you are interested in learning more about Lourdes Academy, click to schedule a school tour.