Holy Cross Episcopal School provides a liberal arts education in the tradition of Episcopal schools nationwide. With a commitment to educating the whole child – mind, body, and spirit – Holy Cross offers a broad educational experience through an academic program that integrates the various disciplines. The curriculum includes a strong sequential presentation of academic skills, enrichment opportunities, daily chapel, and outreach projects.
Our goal is to help students realize their full potential, cultivate an enthusiasm for learning, and develop sensitivity to the needs of others. Throughout this process, the individual child is paramount.
Learning, love, and laughter describe our pre-kindergarten program. In a warm, nurturing environment children learn by exploring and discovering the world around them. Unit and theme activities are integrated with readiness skills, art, and music to provide a program that encourages a child’s natural curiosity and fosters a love of learning. For example, to help with learning the alphabet the children “cook” a food that goes with each letter! Daily centers, learning games, and play offer additional opportunities to develop skills in math and language arts readiness. Students also receive weekly instruction in Spanish, computer, physical education, library, and music. The development of a positive self-image is encouraged as each child is celebrated as a gift from God with a unique set of gifts and talents to be discovered and appreciated.
The kindergarten program at Holy Cross is based on a developmentally appropriate curriculum that integrates a variety of experiences and skills necessary for intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical growth. The foundations of kindergarten are learning to listen and follow directions and developing readiness skills in language arts and math. The curriculum is enhanced through science, social studies, fine arts, physical education, computer, Spanish, and library. Opportunities are provided for students to begin reading based on individual readiness. Varied approaches to learning, such as hands-on activities are used to create a positive, loving environment for our kindergarteners.
The philosophy in educating first grade students is to provide a classroom environment that generates a desire to learn, motivates students to be productive, and introduces them to a wide variety of activities. Hands-on experiences provide a natural environment for acquiring and retaining knowledge. While maintaining a nurturing environment, teachers strive to stimulate students to reach their full potential, as well as the mastery of first grade skills. The course content of first grade builds on that of kindergarten. The curriculum focuses on language arts, math, social studies, science, and handwriting. Immersing the students in the printed language, while teaching them phonics, fosters the development of reading and writing skills. Math concepts are taught through the use of manipulatives, games, activities, and directed instruction. Art, music, computer, physical education, Spanish, and library are essential to our first grade program. Classroom studies are enhanced through field trips, resource speakers, and special projects.
Second grade further emphasizes the principles of the previous grades and adds a measure of increased independence and responsibility for the children. The goal is to help them become more self-sufficient and accountable students. Through an integrated curriculum of language arts, math, science, social studies, Spanish, physical education, and the fine arts, development of the whole child is emphasized. Phonetically rooted basal readers and a variety of other books and reading materials provide a rich literature experience to support the continued development of reading and critical thinking skills. Writing expands into another form of communication as students apply existing knowledge in composing stories, paragraphs, letters, and book reports, both written and oral. Cursive writing is introduced during the second semester. Basic math facts and skills continue to develop in an atmosphere that encourages logical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and practical application. Studying current events, taking field trips, and participating in hands-on projects complement and enhance the science and social studies curriculums. Computer use and technology continue to be an integral part of the curriculum.
Third grade continues to build on the skills acquired in the primary grades with an increased emphasis on comprehension and critical thinking. Cooperative learning becomes increasingly important, allowing students immediate feedback through small group activities and guided self-correction. Teaching the students to think for themselves while being sensitive to the needs of others is key to the third grade experience. Students are encouraged to explore and test their capabilities through realistic challenges provided in a safe environment. In language arts, student writing includes: book reports with visual aids, creative writing with illustrations, poems, letters, and editing. Developing proficiency in basic math skills along with the practical application of math concepts provides a solid foundation for future learning. A wide variety of guest speakers, many exciting projects, and educational field trips make social studies and science come alive for the students. The use of technology to increase the students’ learning experiences is emphasized.
Team teaching begins in the fourth grade with different teachers teaching language arts, social studies, math, and science. This type of schedule serves as an excellent preparation for middle school.
Decision making, problem solving, personal responsibility, critical thinking, and purposeful learning, characterize the fourth grade. Fourth grade requires more independent study and is more intellectually demanding than the previous year. The ability to function effectively in a group while gaining confidence, self-discipline, and responsibility is developed. Focus on content areas continues to increase, building on the firm foundation of the previous years of learning. Alabama history is the focal point of the social studies curriculum with a wealth of opportunities to experience history through museums, historic sites, guest speakers, and activities. Students continue to select and experience literature for both pleasure and information. Correct grammar usage and language mechanics, along with developing composition and reference skills, are focal points of language arts. Reasoning and problem solving develop as students expand and apply mathematical skills and scientific knowledge through cooperative learning, directed instruction, and hands-on activities. A variety of projects, programs, and technology are used to enrich the curriculum and create an environment which enhances the classroom experience.
While continuing with the team teaching schedule, fifth grade students grow in their ability to initiate their own achievement, relying less on teachers, and becoming more independent in their learning.
Students continue to refine their abilities to read critically, write effectively, reason logically, and speak articulately. English grammar skills are reviewed and expanded. Writing projects include essays, research papers, reports, short stories, journal writings, and poetry. Students read novels throughout the year to enhance their reading comprehension skills, as well as learn to appreciate classic novels in an age appropriate manner. The chronological development of the United States up until the Civil War is studied, including history, geography, and economics, as well as the political, social, and cultural perspectives. These are further examined through American literature, art, and music. Students also explore geographical similarities and differences among regions of the United States.
Fifth grade math includes the review and expansion of the four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) using whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Students also investigate math topics such as problem solving, geometry, measurement, and probability.
Emphasis in fifth grade science is placed on nurturing an understanding of scientific concepts and developing process skills that enable students to undertake investigations in the laboratory. A natural interest in discovery is exposed and nurtured when students begin to use microscopes to explore the micro-world that surrounds them.
The team teaching schedule continues into the sixth grade providing an atmosphere of reassurance and stability for students as they enter a period of growth and change. Our instructional program is designed to meet both academic and developmental needs, taking into consideration different learning styles. Students are expected to take more responsibility for their learning and to take risks in order to expand their knowledge and skills.
Language Arts for sixth grade is exactly what the name implies–the art of language. Students read critically throughout the curriculum and study as they read novels, short stories, and poetry through the year. The writing skills explored include narrative, descriptive, expository, journalistic, and persuasive writing. Students will write five paragraph essays, reports, journal entries, and research papers.
In social studies, students continue their study of the United States beginning with the Civil War and continuing through the Vietnam War. They will develop an understanding of the growth of economic systems, and explore the geopolitical changes brought about by world and regional conflicts.
Sixth grade students work to develop a conceptual understanding of expanded notation, operations, fractions, geometry, statistics, graphing, measurement, integers, and basic algebraic equations. Focus is placed on problem-solving, skill proficiency, and analytical thinking.
Critical thinking, technology, and the scientific process are stressed as students work to gain a more in-depth understanding of fundamental concepts in both the life and physical sciences.