Catholic schools are renowned for academic excellence. Students in Catholic schools consistently score in the top 1/3 on nationally standardized tests. IOWA test scores of Our Lady of Grace students are consistent with these national scores.
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School has a long history of outstanding academic performance. OLG students consistently perform significantly above the national average in all subject areas on the IOWA Standardized tests.
A rigorous academic program combined with a nurturing environment and highly-qualified, certified teachers and dedicated staff contributes to our students achieving success.
The curriculum is established by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and meets or exceeds all standards of the State of Pennsylvania. The Curriculum includes English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Religion as the core subjects for all students in grades K-8. Additional subject areas for all grades are Art, Music, Computer Skills, Physical Education, Health, Library, and Spanish.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh promotes Continuous Progress for all students and implements Growth Plans when necessary. An Academic Support Program and Student Assistance Program (SAP) are in place to help all students succeed.
All textbooks have been selected from the list of recommended texts devised by the Curriculum Directors of the Diocese. They are approved because the philosophy is consistent with the Catholic philosophy of education, the subject matter is adaptable to the Continuous Growth Program and because there is sequential, consistent development of material that is in line with state and national standards.
A formal catechetical program is taught daily. The Diocesan Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines, “Growing in God’s Covenant” contains a balance of doctrinal content, scriptural understanding, faith formation, prayer, and worship experiences. A variety of materials and resources are used to foster both spiritual growth and moral development.
The Computer curriculum guidelines have been developed to allow each student to be introduced to computer skills at an appropriate grade level. The SRA McGraw-Hill series Tecknowledge is used as a tool for implementing these skills to students in grades K-8. Upper grades work toward a proficient to mastery level in learning how to create various types of documents using different software platforms. Computer skills are practiced and mastered through projects and presentations for other courses. Students are encouraged to use positive digital citizenship. There are two computer labs to expose all students to both Windows and Mac-based programs. Chromebooks are also used to aid in student learning.
Instruction in the Fine Arts contributes to the development of the whole person. It promotes individual expression, allows for experimentation with diverse materials and elements, enables exploration and appreciation of the works of other students and major artists, develops an awareness and sensitivity toward the environment, and finally promotes a deeper understanding of heritage and culture. The Fine Arts curriculum provides a holistic approach to education, which incorporates many aspects of the core curriculum and can be integrated into the total educational experience.
Health and Physical Education
Health education, which leads to the total well being of each student, is the goal of the Diocesan “Health for Success” program. The program is a complete, comprehensive approach to developing our students physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. A health text, along with current periodicals such as “Current Health”, are used. Guest speakers are invited to speak to the students about various health-related topics.
A quality Physical Education program recognizes the value of teaching students to stay physically active and develop skills needed for present and future life. To achieve this goal, Our Lady of Grace School incorporates the Department for Catholic Schools Curriculum “Fit for Life” into the program. This program assists students in identifying strengths, building upon them, and achieving personal goals.
The health and physical education curriculums strive to establish healthy, active students so that each child can develop to his or her full potential. Students learn to respect the rights of others and to follow rules through games and to be physically active. Learning to constructively channel energies helps the student to develop a good self-image. The skills, habits and attitudes developed within the program provide opportunities for greater success in the students’ lives.
The Elementary Language Arts Curriculum for the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been developed to enable each student to be introduced to language as a viable form of communication, an invaluable skill, and an art to be enjoyed. English classes center on improving writing, grammar, and speaking, as well as expanding vocabulary and improving spelling.
Language, as a skill, provides the student with the important tools to speak fluently, to read and comprehend, to compose, to write legibly, and to spell correctly. An awareness of the history of language and the continuous development of vocabulary also are important phases of skill development.
Students in grades K-5 center on an integrated approach to Language Arts developing the necessary skills essential for success including phonetic skills of the student. Students in grades 6-8 learn an appreciation of literature with skillful authors who vicariously open new worlds of adventure in far off places, times long past, and modern trends of good reading. Having developed a love for good literature, this aesthetic element overflows into the student’s personal, oral and written expression.
The school library exists primarily to support and enrich the curriculum. It is a service and teaching agency as well as a place for purposeful learning. The librarian and classroom teacher are partners in the instructional process. They plan and implement activities so that the goals of both the content area and the library program are achieved.
Students use the school library for research as well as checking out books. Students are instructed in using the card catalog, the Dewey Decimal System, and library arrangements. They are also taught the use of a variety of reference books which are available in our reference room. Students also have access to search our extensive library online.
The mathematics curriculum is designed to help students meet the mathematical needs of the present and future, to provide practice in logical reasoning, and to develop the ability to find patterns and recognize structure in mathematics. Concepts are taught sequentially. In primary grades, basic facts are taught and students are introduced to many ideas that are foundational to an understanding of algebra. Algebraic topics are taught in the older grades and a full year of algebra is taught in the eighth grade. Teachers promote problem solving skills and an exploratory inquisitiveness in all students to assure critical thinking skills. Cooperative learning in the classroom is essential to heighten student awareness in the value of cooperation in group-situations, to strengthen communication skills in mathematics, and to promote a mathematically literate society. The Simple Solutions Series is also used in K-8 to address skills and concepts that are already familiar to students with the purpose of having students practice beyond the point of mastery in order to retain learning for a lifetime.
We are proud to be the first Pittsburgh area school to offer the LabLearner Program. This spiraling curriculum was developed by scientists and educators to allow students in PreK-eighth grade to experience real lab investigation. This hands-on approach to science allows our students to grow as problem solvers and 21st century learners. The program is centered around a weekly lab with pre and post lab discussions and analysis.
In addition to the LabLearner program, students in seventh and eighth grade submit a science project yearly and can take part in Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) and Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair (PRSEF). Students in sixth grade may also submit a science project and participate in PRSEF.
To learn more about LabLearner go to www.lablearner.com
The Social Studies curriculum begins with an introduction to family/friends. It progresses to the study of community helpers, and later encompasses a more in-depth study of the community. Beginning in fourth grade, the curriculum focuses on the study of the United States land regions and Pennsylvania history. At the fifth grade level, the curriculum focuses on United States history through the Civil War and a study of the United States geographical regions are covered. Sixth grade students study World Cultures and World Geography with an emphasis on the countries of the Eastern Hemisphere. Seventh grade studies United States history to the Reconstruction and eighth grade looks at Post-Reconstruction through the present time. Geography skills are taught at all levels. Values such as social justice, peace, cooperation between states and governments’ opposition to the “isms” such as racism, sexism, and materialism are integrated in the Social Studies program.
Language students learn the sounds and syntax of the language. Students are also introduced to culture. A variety of materials and methods are used for instruction. Students in grades K-5 are introduced to Spanish once a week. Sixth grade has two classes a week, and seventh and eighth grade has three classes a week. Students are working toward proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing of the Spanish language.