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. Kindergarten through eighth grade use the Blest Are We religion series. Second grade also incorporates Dynamic Catholic Blessed series for First Reconciliation and First Communion preparation. Students attend Mass weekly and beginning in first grade students 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. Second grade reenact the First Christmas in an Advent prayer service, and during Lent the students also take part in the Lenten Stations of the Cross and second grade goes to confession prior to their First Communion.
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 – First and second grade use the Everyday math series. Kindergarten through second grade use Saxon phonics and the reading series Reading street. Kindergarten also incorporates Starfall reading, which has an online component that parents are encouraged to use at home to reinforce their child’s reading skills. and Starfall Math. . 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, and phonics decodable readers. Students take home these readers to read to/with their parents. Accelerated Reader is used to develop crucial reading comprehension strategies. We also incorporate the use of a web-based assessment tool called iReady, which allows the teachers to see areas of strength and weakness for each student. The assessments are analyzed and areas of weakness are then incorporated into the teachers’ reading lessons. iReady provides weekly online lessons to help enhance the student’s skills.
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.
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.
Enrichment Classes – All primary students participate in enrichment classes in the areas of physical education, music, art, library, and Spanish 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, and visit the Passionist Nuns. The kindergarten also visits a pumpkin patch in the fall.