ELEMENTARY - MIDDLE SCHOOL
- READING/LANGUAGE ARTS
- SOCIAL STUDIES: HISTORY: CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
- WORLD LANGUAGE
- PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH
Through daily religion classes, all students study the Bible, history of the church, liturgy, and sacraments. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade practice their faith through weekly Mass attendance where older students embrace leadership opportunities to serve as lectors, hospitality ministers, cantors, sacristans, and altar servers. In addition, school-wide prayers services are led monthly by kindergarten through second grade students. Middle school students attend annual faith-based retreats to develop students’ personal faith journeys. Then, to emphasize the importance of outreach and service to others, all students participate in various projects to serve the local community throughout the year. In addition, seventh grade students prepare and serve meals twice a year at Pinellas Hope, a local homeless shelter, while eighth grade students participate in Best Buddies International, building relationships with students with special needs. The students at Espiritu have many opportunities to learn, practice, and share their faith with each other and with the greater community.
The Reading/English Language Arts curriculum, aligned with Florida State Standards, stresses phonics, reading, writing, listening, speaking and language skills. At the primary level, a foundation in decoding and phonemic skills is highlighted, gradually building comprehension and critical thinking skills throughout the subsequent grade levels. As students progress in their reading skills, teachers scaffold the reading and comprehension of both fiction and nonfiction resources. Students are taught to seek specific evidence to support literary analysis. In elementary classrooms, students subscribe to Scholastic News for age-appropriate non-fiction texts to engage students with current topics. In addition, students study many fictitious stories and novels. Students apply their comprehension through an accelerated reader program, an annual character parade, writing contests within the community, participation in the Battle of the Books, and a poetry tea as examples.
The English Language Arts curriculum also stresses the full development of the writing process. Students secure the building blocks of grammar, then apply their knowledge through sentence structure variation, paragraph development, and essay writing. Students learn how to best express themselves through understanding their audience, providing evidence for their answers, and utilizing the brainstorming, creating, editing, and producing process. These skills add voice and craft to all forms of communication both in the classroom and beyond. Cross-curricular integration occurs often between Social Studies and ELA in the elementary classrooms, for example, students participate in an annual Famous Americans project, while Science and ELA have a cross-curricular approach in middle school for the Science fair unit. In addition to in-class assessments, presentations, and essays, student progress is monitored and addressed through Moby Max and IXL on-line programs.
The comprehensive math program starts at Pre-K3 with number recognition and simple arithmetic then progresses to complex operations in Algebra I Honors. The curriculum, aligned with state standards, emphasizes understanding mathematic principles, mastery of basic facts, problem solving, and application of mathematic concepts. Higher order thinking skills are emphasized throughout the entire math program. Young students learn through manipulatives which later become more abstract thinking activities. Besides in-class activities, assessments, and projects, students utilize Moby Max and IXL on-line resources to bolster skill sets and understanding of mathematic concepts. All students are challenged on their own level to make math connections to the real world. In order to provide the opportunity for every student to experience math competitions, the Academic Recognition Committee puts on a school-wide math bowl with a STEM component. In addition, Espiritu high-achieving students participate in outside math competitions which encourages these students to further challenge themselves and become more enthusiastic about mathematics. ESCS students have placed highly in the Diocesan and the county’s Mighty Mu Math Contests throughout the years. Espiritu Santo also hosted a diocesan-wide (ten schools) elementary Math Bowl last year and plans to extend to the middle school level in the upcoming year.
The science curriculum, aligning with Florida State Standards and Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (for middle school), focuses on Earth Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science with each subsequent grade level gaining a deeper understanding of the concepts and ideas within the three domains. Teachers’ key strategies offer problem-based learning to teach scientific concepts and challenge the students to make life connections. The working school garden is continuously used by teachers of all grades to enhance students’ scientific understandings. In addition, fifth grade students travel to the Kennedy Space Center for an overnight field trip to better understand the space concepts of the curriculum. Schematics for an outdoor classroom have been developed to further extend learning through authentic application.
The middle school science curriculum is lab-based. Students participate in a variety of hands-on laboratory activities, allowing students to experience applied science. Students use cooperative learning and current technology to enhance and apply knowledge to real life situations. The scientific method is used to design an experiment and complete individual science fair projects in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. Winners go on to compete at the county, diocesan, and state level. Espiritu Santo students earned top recognition at the state level in 2018.
SOCIAL STUDIES: HISTORY: CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
The social studies curriculum blends academic study with hands-on experience, to create a meaningful understanding of society. Instruction is guided by the Florida State Standards along with the National Council for Social Studies themes. History, geography, economics, government and civics studies are blended together with an exploration of culture, authority, institutions, technology, and global environmental interactions. The focus is on individual development and identity with the key strategy of connecting students’ firsthand social interactions to the people and events studied. Fieldtrips, groupwork, and simulations of real-world situations bring the curriculum to life. For example, fourth grade students travel to St. Augustine for a two-day exploration of Florida’s historical sites. Then in fifth grade, students visit Enterprise Village, an economics and citizenship simulation program where classroom lessons on personal finance, business operations and citizenship are put into action as the students spend the day applying, working and receiving payment for their employment. Students vote and operate the village government.
Further application of the social studies curriculum takes place in eighth grade as students travel to Finance Park. Here, students create realistic budgets, covering transportation, investment, banking, housing, entertainment, healthcare, utilities, food, clothing and education. Trained volunteers and over 30 local business partners make Finance Park an authentic experience to help students become educated consumers and financially responsible adults.
All students are invited to compete in a school-wide Geography Bee with the winners progressing to state and national competitions. In 2018, an Espiritu student qualified in the state competition and participated in the National Geographic GeoBee.
All students enjoy music classes once a week throughout the year. Along with music theory, the course is “hands on” with a wide variety of instruments available for all ages to play. Students listen and study many genres of music from around the globe, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the music they hear, play, and sing. Beyond school performances, students are invited to share their singing talents through performances at assisted living facilities, city festivities, and honorary tributes.
In addition, all students participate in weekly art classes which introduce them to the elements and principles of art, art history, the masters, and art appreciation. The youngest students begin with the basics of color, lines, and shapes in a hands-on way. Older students develop confidence in their creative process and experiment with different styles and mediums. The oldest students are given even more artistic choice and apply their talents on long term projects. All students contribute to an annual art exhibit, with many participating and earning recognition in state and international competitions.
The Spanish curriculum prepares students to respond to Christ’s call to be missionary disciples. Through learning the language of others, students can become interconnected to a global society and equipped both linguistically and culturally to communicate in a pluralistic American society and with people from other countries. Students also gain respect for ideas, practices, and values of people from other cultures. The goal is to offer every student an avenue of learning that affords the mastery of language skills through listening, speaking, reading, writing, and the study of culture. Students in Pre-K3 through third grade attend class twice a week while fourth through eighth grade students attend three times a week.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH
Students attend physical education classes two times per week. The curriculum includes a wide variety of activities and games to encourage lifelong fitness with a strong emphasis of Christian sportsmanlike conduct. In fifth through eighth grade, students have same-sex instruction to encourage more play-time and enhance self-confidence. Students of all skill levels and abilities are taught basic skills of a variety of sports and on-going fitness activities. Through sportsmanship, fair play, and teamwork, students receive a multitude of chances to put their faith into action in the gym and on the field.
The health curriculum focuses on the wellness and education of the whole child: body, mind, and soul. In younger grades, health concepts are integrated into the science curriculum, whereas in fifth through eighth grade, students have a weekly same-sex class and teacher. Fitness concepts, nutritional guidelines, mental health and healthy relationships are the components of the class.
The library media program is an integral component of Espiritu Santo’s curricula. Students in preschool through fifth grade have weekly classes where they focus on library skills and an appreciation for literature. Middle school students visit the library weekly for book exchange. All students are given the opportunity to read the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Nominees and then, if they choose, may participate in the Battle of the Books program. Students also take part in Accelerated Reader quizzes to earn recognition and awards for top readers.
Students in PreK-4 through eighth grade have weekly technology classes which follow the National ISTI Standards. Younger students start with basic operation skills, keyboarding, and online safety. Older students learn communication and collaboration tools, spreadsheets, multimedia presentations, internet research and coding. Cross-curricular objectives are met as students demonstrate knowledge from various domains by using a multitude of applications.