Editor’s Letter: Spring 2019

Dear reader,

I hope your spring days are filled with spiritual renewal. This issue of Today’s Catholic Teacher centers on the influence of the arts across our educational endeavors. Wayne Sheridan’s article, “The Power of the Arts,” pushes us to use art as a catalyst to energize and encourage students. Sheridan shares creative ways art has been integrated into school curricula using meaningful methods. Similarly, recent attention has supported STEM’s (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) transformation into STEAM with the addition of an “A” for art. Lori Hadacek Chaplin’s article highlights a movement to continue the transformation from STEAM to STREAM through the addition of religion. The key facet in these creative shifts remains integrating subjects for deeper learning.

The integration of the arts supports Cathy G. Knipper’s passion for mentoring students toward greater achievement. In her article, “Tell Me Your Story: Achievement Stories and Mentorship in the Classroom,” she highlights the importance of supporting the development of achievement stories. When shared, such stories provide a deep sense of satisfaction and joy for both students and their teacher mentors.

In this issue, Lisa Lawmaster Hess shares an enlightening article about one of my favorite topics: executive function skills. She highlights how executive function serves as the CEO of our brain to support our working memory, cognitive flexibility, and self-control. As these skills are essential to school and life success, Hess provides clear strategies to support their development in the classroom. A focus on developing executive function in children has clear connections to improved behavior. In my years as an educator, I have noticed significant skill gaps in children with executive function weaknesses. In some cases, the students are diagnosed with ADHD or autism; in other situations, it may be a result of trauma. Hess includes a link to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing child for more information on executive function development.

Technology has permeated the schooling experiences of even our youngest learners. Susan Brooks-Young provides a useful article centered on purchasing technology for student use in schools. She articulates the benefits and drawbacks of various devices depending on the goal of the assignment. I have seen my own children benefit from the mixed use of Chromebooks and tablets in their classrooms. Last year my son’s class shared a tablet cart and a Chromebook cart with the classroom next door. This enabled the class to learn on both platforms, depending on the assignment.

Many blessings to you and your students,

Dr. Lisa D’Souza

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