St. Mary's School in Massillon has been a part of the city for 165 years.
St. Mary's School in Massillon has been a part of the city for 165 years. While there are a lot of new things happening at the school, its long history is due in part to what has stayed the same. Among those constants is support of the parents.
Principal Jennifer Fischer has been with the school for two years. She has already recognized what makes the school historical and it's not just the age of some of the buildings.
“One of our strengths is that we provide a good faith-based education,” Fischer said. “We also have a long history of effort and support from the parents and every member of the St. Mary Parish over the years. People who believe in the mission have helped make the school a success.”
Today, St. Mary's has 200 students in preschool through eighth grade. The current school building was built in three sections throughout the years. The first section was built in the 1920s and houses preschoolers and fifth through eighth graders.
A second section was built in the 1940s. It was torn down and rebuilt in the 1980s with a library, gym and cafeteria.
The third part of the school was built in the 1950s and a third floor was added in the 1960s. That section houses the kindergarten through fourth grade.
While the physical aspect of the school has a lot of historical significance, the education is tapping technology and teaching 21st-century skills.
Fischer said the entire school uses wireless technology. There are computers in every classroom and there is a computer lab for technology classes. Some classrooms are using iPads and some are transitioning to cloud computing.
“We are moving more toward using Chrome books in the classrooms,” Fischer said. “We use Google Classroom which is cloud-based and Chrome books are better suited for that type of work. All of our kids have their own email address so they can submit homework assignments electronically.”
STREAM, SERVICE PROJECTS
St. Mary's is also incorporating STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Medical) projects into the curriculum. One ongoing project that started last year involved the entire school. The goal of the project was to evaluate the school's carbon footprint and find ways to reduce it as part of a service project linked to STREAM.
“We try to use God's resources as best we can by using less paper and less ink,” Fischer said. “Our school started a program last year to reduce, reuse and recycle and many of our classroom projects were tied to that theme.”
There are recycle bins available throughout the school. Teachers and students have repurposed items including turning used paper such as fax paper into art projects.
The computer science program is incorporated into classrooms in a number of ways. Students learn job skills and career planning all built around technology skills. They also learn presentation skills using technology and they build story books using online publishing.
“Students also learn research skills and how to find legitimate resources online. St. Mary's uses project-based learning which prepare students for the real world. They work in teams and learn to build meaningful relationships,” Fisher said.
Students at St. Mary's participate in a number of extracurricular programs including sponsoring Dollar Day where anyone who donates one dollar to charity can wear jeans to school. The school also offers religious and character development. Students prepare and/or attend bi-weekly or weekly masses.
Students can participate in student council, Right to Read, Grandparents Day, band, spelling bee, mass music, mission projects, yearbook, kid's bowl and others. Sports programs include football, basketball, track, cheerleading, girls' volleyball, golf, flag football and lacrosse.
Incorporating the Catholic traditions such as prayer and attending mass into education adds another level to service learning. Fischer said teaching students to build meaningful relationships so they can become part of the community is part of the tradition at St. Mary's and will continue to be part of the school's success in the future.