— Our Innovative Curriculum —
Marian Middle School takes students at all levels of academic readiness and prepares them for success in high performing high schools, post-secondary education, and 21st century careers. This begins with a differentiated, foundational program in math, science, social studies, and language arts, religious education, and foreign language ensuring students have a solid academic base on which to build. As an independent, Catholic school, Marian is able to align its curriculum with the highest national standards and benchmarks and to adapt them to fit the needs of its unique learners. From this foundation, students are challenged to apply their academic knowledge to solve real-world problems.
Much of Marian’s authentic, project-based learning comes through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). In 2011, Marian introduced STEM to students as a stand-alone class. Since then, STEM has become an interdisciplinary way of learning, teaching, and thinking. Teachers cultivate student curiosity through the utilization of authentic project-based learning and the engineering design loop. These processes engage students in the research and naming of real-world problems and the developing, evaluating, and re-designing of solutions. Projects are student driven, engrossing students in areas of passion and creating life-long learners who know they are already making a difference in our world. The question Marian asks students as it prepares them for 21st century careers is not, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” but “What problem do you want to solve?”
STEM classes include: Electricity, Automotive Engineering, Building and Design, Veterinary Science, Financial Literacy, Robotics, Advanced Robotics, and Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (IMACS)
During the 2016-2017 school year, Marian implemented a student-driven, cross-curricular STEM initiative. Through inquiry and project-based learning, Quest guided students in mix-grade groups to research and identify problems and strategize solutions to real-world problems. Quest led Marian Girls into a design and re-design process where they sought to create and enhance solutions. Below is a short list of problems and solutions our students identified and strategized during Quest:
- Racism—Marian Girls created a “Peace Center” as a place for relationship building and respite after traumatic racial incidents.
- Refurbishing Furniture—Marian Girls stripped, sanded, stained, and rebuilt furniture, which they then donated to a women’s transitional housing organization.
- Empowerment—Marian Girls created a women’s empowerment website.
- Energy Efficiency—Marian Girls conducted an energy audit at school, made changes based on the audit, and created “home audits” for students and their families.
- Refurbishing Wood—Marian Girls deconstructed an old piano and used its parts to create projects, such as signs, boxes, a lap desk, and a birthday calendar.
- Chess—Marian Girls learned to play chess, researched chess as a social equalizer, and created chess boards and pieces to donate.
- Motorcycle—Marian Girls took apart and rebuilt an old motorcycle to be donated.
Berges Family Innovation Center
During the 2014-2015 school year, after a presentation by fifth graders (MMS Class of 2018), we realized that the physical space, equipment, and supplies our students had access to did not allow them to fully explore core subject matter, let alone new fields such as robotics, engineering, and computer programming. The solution to this problem was to create a STEM Innovation Center with five state-of-the-art learning spaces: a science laboratory classroom, a maker library, a maker workshop, a multi-disciplinary learning space, and a culinary kitchen.
A $250,000 grant from the Berges Family Foundation in June 2016 was instrumental in helping us achieve our goal of creating the STEM Innovation Center. Their grant and the many grants and individual gifts that followed are providing a solid foundation for Marian Girls continued STEM learning and, ultimately, increasing their interest and capacity to take on STEM careers. These careers will help them break the cycle of poverty. Marian Girls began using the space in April 2017.
Innovation Center Sponsors
Ameren Corporation Charitable Trust
Berges Family Foundation
Brown Sisters Foundation
Peter and Susan Frane
Carol L. Rogers
William T. Kemper Foundation
The Raskob Foundation
Incarnate Word Foundation
Society for Information Management
Louise C. Bullock
Cynthia G. Heath
James and Katherine Martin
The Service Bureau Foundation
George and Karen Kersey
Dawn and Michael Szatkowski
Sisters of the Most Precious Blood
Peter and Caron Benoist
Erica Ciarlo and Katie Kellett
Dianne and Cleman Decker
Dennis and Rebecca Donnelly
Kelly Graham and Gary Righi
Mary Elizabeth Grimes
Maureen and Ben Hoeft
Lucy McCalpin and David A. Wright
Jessica and Corey McCarthy
Mary Ann McGivern, SL
Marcia and J. Duke Niedringhaus
Ana and Nicholas Pantazi
Barbara Roche, SL
Curtis Sidorski and Lara Heisohn-Sidorski
Phillip and Candace Stallone
Kate and Mark Stroble
Kim and Mike Sullivan
Eric Treptow and Sheila Chibnall-Treptow