St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School is a community hub in inner-city Toronto. Through the school’s outreach efforts, students volunteer at a variety of community programs, including the Scott Mission, the Good Shepherd Mission, the Daily Bread Food Bank, Street Patrol (which provides lunches to the homeless), St. Jude’s Academy of the Arts, Toronto Police, YMCA Exchange and St. Francis Table. The school has seen a switch in its immigrant population from a primarily western European community to a predominantly southeast Asian one. Most of its students have working-class parents who often work evenings, which has lead to a need for staff to provide support to students through extracurricular homework help.
Students are challenged to reach their potential academically and extracurricularly. Over the past three years (2012–2014), 63% of the school’s applied-level mathematics students have risen to the provincial standard. Much of this success can be attributed to a dedicated staff and administration who believe innovative thinking and changes in the way they teach and support students are paramount.
Many students entering Grade 9 are unaware of the expectations of the Grade 9 math curricula, and correct math-course placement is important for the students’ success. St. Mary’s take a number of measures to ensure students are placed correctly and are able to transfer between classes if necessary. The school has reported that approximately 90% of misplaced students are successfully transferred, with full parental support.
This three-hour-a-week math course is open to all Grade 9 students; however, students in applied Grade 9 mathematics are strongly encouraged to take it. The course is lesson-driven and requires registration. Attendance is taken, and students are expected to be present. Teachers collaborate to ensure that the content is parallel with the regular classroom lessons and the concepts taught reinforce those taught in class. Up to 90% of the participants are applied-level students.
"…what we need to do is we need to build a good, strong, solid foundation on which we could further develop their mathematical and numeracy skills."
—Judite Calado Costa, Teacher
"Parents are very, very, very supportive of the program…"
—Jenny Gazzaruso, Teacher
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School Profile and Results
Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement, 2015 School Recipient.