Our religion program leads our students to a joyful awareness that the Holy Spirit is present in the church, our school, and within us, calling us to speak to God our Father and to praise Him by living as His children. At the heart of our program is a harmonious integration of scripture, tradition, prayer, and service. Our religious devotions include our weekly Mass, the Living Rosary, Advent and Lenten days of reflection, prayer services, bible study, confession, adoration, retreats, and Stations of the Cross. Sacramental preparation takes place in the second grade for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. In addition, students are called to live out their faith through service to others. Students routinely participate in service projects which benefit our parish community, as well as local organizations throughout the Metro-Atlanta area.
The language arts program begins with the belief that success in language arts stems from a primary focus to develop a critical and life-long reader. Additionally, the direct correlation between reading and writing prompts a rigorous writing program throughout the school. In the primary grades, our language arts program is systematic, explicit phonics instruction which teaches children to decode words with continuous practice until students reach automaticity and fluency. Instruction integrates vocabulary, handwriting, spelling, oral expression, writing, and reading comprehension. In the intermediate grades, the language arts curriculum focuses on continuing reading fluency using skills and concepts to enhance comprehension and higher level thinking. Focus is given to grammatical concepts in order to develop effective written and oral communication. During middle school, novel studies, genre units, and a focus on fluency, vocabulary development, and a movement to higher level/critical thinking skills comprise our practice in expanding this crucial skill. Students continue to receive direct instruction in grammar and its application to different writing styles to produce more effective writing. Finally, in order to develop the whole child, we foster oral speaking and presentation skills; students are continually provided opportunities to practice these skills at all grade levels.
Our math curriculum is a focused and coherent approach to learning. The goal of mathematics instruction is to lead students toward conceptual understanding and to develop age-appropriate higher-order thinking skills. Typical units of instruction include hands-on activities to build number sense, frequent and sequential practice to develop fluency with skills, memorization and drill to increase speed and fluency of math facts, and in-depth questioning to foster critical thinking. A thoughtful and holistic approach is used to differentiate instruction, resulting in an appropriately leveled learning environment. Student engagement is aided through the use of technology and cross-curricular instruction. A Gifted Math program is offered in grades three through six to challenge the very highest of our math students. Pre-Algebra and Algebra courses are offered to eligible students in the 7th and 8th grades.
A major goal of our science program is to help our students acquire and apply scientific knowledge through a series of concepts, which helps to further their understanding of the world around them. Life, physical, and earth science concepts are vertically aligned in grades K-8. Scientific inquiry, methodology, and engineering principles are incorporated into the science program at St. Joseph Catholic School. Performance expectations focus on understanding and application, as opposed to memorization of facts. Lab experiments provide students with additional instruction and allow students to logically think through a problem in order to predict outcomes. Traditional science techniques, as well as the engineering design are consistently practiced throughout the school year.
The goal of the social studies program is to develop knowledgeable citizens, capable of making informed decisions about the world in which they live. The social studies curriculum introduces concepts from a multi-cultural perspective which helps students to understand the people and places they are studying. Areas of study include families, communities, citizenship, world culture, economics, governance, geography, and history. Through the use of a textbook, time lines, and artifacts, students make real word connections between the past and current events. Through the evaluation of information, students exercise higher level thinking skills, and become better able to make informed decisions on past and present issues within our world.