July 22, 2016

Notre Dame team designs program to help Holy Angels’ students soar

Holy Angels School in Indianapolis is among the five center-city Catholic schools that are now part of the Notre Dame ACE Academies. Holy Angels will begin the upcoming school year with “blended learning instruction,” a new learning system specially designed by a team from the University of Notre Dame. (Submitted photo)

Holy Angels School in Indianapolis is among the five center-city Catholic schools that are now part of the Notre Dame ACE Academies. Holy Angels will begin the upcoming school year with “blended learning instruction,” a new learning system specially designed by a team from the University of Notre Dame. (Submitted photo)

Criterion staff report

With the goal of helping children “succeed according to their individual needs,” Holy Angels School in Indianapolis will begin the upcoming school year with a new learning system specially designed by a team from the University of Notre Dame.

The use of “blended learning instruction” at Holy Angels is one of the first initiatives that has resulted from the announcement in March that five center-city Catholic schools in Indianapolis will become part of the Notre Dame ACE Academies’ network starting in the 2016-17 school year.

“Combining a blended learning approach with the ways that Notre Dame ACE Academies bring a strong sense of identity and high expectations will have a force multiplier effect for Holy Angels,” said Holy Cross Father Nate Wills, a Notre Dame faculty member whose team is designing the personalized, technology-based approach at Holy Angels.

“Using blended learning software gives children the chance to work at their just-right level in math and reading, adapting and adjusting to where the kids are. This helps them succeed according to their individual needs.”

Holy Angels’ parents and teachers are excited by the new learning approach.

“It is something to challenge my kids in a fun environment,” said Theodora Darku, who has three children who attend Holy Angels School.

As a teacher at the school, Clara Tucker envisions the difference the blended learning approach will make to her students in the fifth and sixth grades.

“Students have the ability to learn at their pace and master skills needed at their level with the help of peers, teachers and computer programs,” Tucker says. “In this way, students take full responsibility for their learning and receive daily feedback on their academic progress.

“I am also excited that there will be a system in place that enhances my direct instruction, allowing me to take learning to a new level with each of my students.”

Besides Holy Angels, the Notre Dame ACE Academies in Indianapolis include Central Catholic School, Holy Cross Central School, St. Anthony School and St. Philip Neri School.

Through the Notre Dame ACE Academies, the university’s Alliance for Catholic Education program and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will continue the efforts of the Mother Theodora Catholic Academies to provide a broader pool of resources and support to serve the children at the five center-city schools.

The five schools will also benefit from the successful model of school transformation established at Notre Dame ACE Academies in Arizona and Florida.

“Our teachers and principals have demonstrated, with zeal, that it’s possible to close the achievement gap on the south side of Tucson, in Tampa, and in Orlando,” said Aaron Brenner, director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies. “We’re excited that our new partners in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are just as committed to doing whatever it takes to put every student on the path to college and heaven.”

Gina Fleming, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, echoed her support for this partnership at Holy Angels, where enrollment is open for the 2016-17 school year that begins on Aug. 8.

“By joining forces with Notre Dame and ACE, we are confident that we will further aid in the transformation of lives as we help our youth achieve college, careers and heaven,” Fleming said.

She also noted that Holy Angels serves students in pre-kindergarten (ages 3-4) through sixth grade. Through archdiocesan support, Holy Angels provides financial assistance to 100 percent of its school families. Indiana Choice Scholarships and “On My Way PreK” vouchers are also honored at the school, Fleming said.
 

(For information on enrollment at Holy Angels or for an appointment to learn more about the school, contact principal Matthew Goddard by phone at 317-926-5211 or by e-mail at mgoddard@holyangelscatholicschool.org. To learn more about the Notre Dame ACE Academies, visit, ace.nd.edu/academies.)

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