St. Mary's School
Driving across the bridge into historic downtown Annapolis, it’s hard not to notice St. Mary’s School, part of historic St. Mary’s Parish, stretched out along Spa Creek. These brick buildings, which grace the land where Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll once lived, house an academic community which offers a truly exceptional educational experience for over 1,500 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
St. Mary’s School is family which challenges and encourages with equal vigor. We expect all of our students to fulfill their personal potential and provide them with the resources to achieve that goal. As one graduating senior describes it, “There are lots of opportunities for excellence.”
Achieving excellence means choosing a faculty with strong educational backgrounds and the commitment to working in a faith-based institution and to implementing new approaches which will ensure that each and every student receives the individualized support that they need to succeed. Two examples of that are our use of instructional assistants at the elementary level and our use of block scheduling at the high school level.
Supporting our elementary faculty in the primary classrooms are instructional assistants. This extra pair of hands (or two pairs at the kindergarten level) assists by reinforcing the teacher’s lesson with a specially-designed game or exercise or by providing individualized support for students who may need extra help with a particular concept or skill. According to our first grade students, their class assistant helped them “to learn words” and to master their counting.
St. Mary’s high school students participate in four 85-minute classes every day. This block schedule allows them to spend more time in the classroom and earn 32 credits for graduation compared to 26 in other schools. The ability to earn 32 credits also allows our students to take additional honors and Advanced Placement courses. St. Mary’s graduates’ SAT test scores and excellent college placement record speak for themselves.
We consider spirituality—from developing a personal conscience to learning about important social justice issues—vital to our students’ personal development. Our service programs help St. Mary’s students go beyond mere acts of good will to having direct contact with struggling people in our own local community. It is not unusual for our students to take the initiative and provide assistance when they hear of a need, whether it be for clothing or for prayers. For example, in response to a letter from a Marine serving in Iraq, the school sent hundreds of packages with much needed items including lotion, phone cards and disposable cameras as part of their celebration of Veterans Day. We find that this strong sense of service lasts beyond graduation, and are proud that each year several of our graduates are selected to attend the nation’s service academies.
Helping our students succeed also means providing the technology that makes the classroom a place where learning isn’t just reading from a textbook, but an interactive experience. We work hard to stay ahead of the technology curve and to integrate it into our curriculum. We’ve already implemented a campus-wide wireless system and switched to laptops for both student and faculty use, and we’re about to launch our new website, redesigned under the direction of one of our alumni.
St. Mary’s is the kind of place where your math teacher may also coach you in soccer—reminding you to apply what you learned about angles to kick that perfect goal shot. By design and intention, our teachers are club moderators, mentors and coaches (or supporters cheering in the stands). We’ve found that this interaction not only results in teams who win championships but in individuals who are better athletes, actors or artists as well as leaders in life and in their chosen professions. St. Mary’s graduates can be found everywhere from serving in political office to sailing competitively in Europe.
Whether it’s walking downtown for a field trip or appearing on Good Morning America, as one of our science classes did, or researching the mystery behind the authorship of a long lost letter from the Naval Academy, as one of our fifth grade classes did, our students—our family of Saints—receive an exceptional educational and life experience in the heart of our beautiful city.