Strong religious focus in the early years - One of the main differences that sets St. Thomas apart, is our focus on the Catholic religion. We believe that faith formation begins when our students walk in the door. The entire school uses the Blest Are We religion series to ensure that no content is missed. Students attend Mass weekly and beginning in first grade help plan and prepare the Mass at different times throughout the year.
One of the highlights in first and second grade is the tradition of performing a Christmas Play for fellow students and parents. Another is dressing up as their patron saints at our All Saints Day Mass. In second grade the students receive the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion. The school provides specialized instruction and student retreats prior to receiving the sacraments. Parents are considered an integral part of this instruction.
Service Learning – Service is a hallmark of the Catholic Church and our students are introduced to the joy of service at an early age. Classes take turns making cards for the elderly and shut-ins of our parish. The primary classes also complete at least one service learning project each year.
In-depth language arts and hands-on math instruction – In kindergarten through second grade homeroom classes are split for instruction in Saxon Phonics and Everyday Math. This low teacher/student ratio in the core content subjects of math and reading help to ensure a good foundation of learning and skills before leaving the primary years.
In addition to Saxon Phonics our kindergarten uses the More Starfall reading series, which has an online component that parents are encouraged to use at home to reinforce their child’s reading skills. Our first and second grade students are immersed in reading through the use of the Treasures series. We believe that a strong partnership with parents is critical for ongoing student success. One way we partner with parents when teaching reading is through the use of books-in-a-bag. Students take home leveled readers to read to/with their parents. Accelerated Reader is used to develop crucial reading comprehension strategies.
Students at St. Thomas begin writing in kindergarten to develop a strong connection between reading and writing. Developmental spelling in kindergarten will lead to conventions spelling as students begin to understand the different rules and exception in the English language. Writing portfolios help students, teachers, and parents see the continual growth in written communication skills.
Everyday Math makes the connection that math is used every day in one form or another. Completing calendar math, using math manipulatives, creating geometric shapes from straws, and celebrating the 100th day of school are a few ways that math comes alive for the students. Our first and second grades also useMath Facts in a Flash to help improve speed and accuracy with math facts.
Enrichment Classes – All primary students participate in enrichment classes in the areas of physical education, music, art, library, Spanish, and computers on a weekly basis to learn skills in the various areas.
Field Trips – Field trips are incorporated in learning units as a culminating educational experience. Primary students attend four Children’s Theater productions at the Taft Theater during the year, go to the Cincinnati Zoo, visit a local florist, tour the Ft. Thomas Fire Department, attend a presentation at the planetarium and visit the Passionist Nuns. The kindergarten also visits a pumpkin patch in the fall.