Mount Carmel School kicked off the new school year with a series of activities and events that are setting a positive and enthusiastic tone for the rest of the year.
On the mornings of Monday and Tuesday, its teachers focused on improving their teaching by studying a wide variety of instructional strategies and classroom management techniques.
The workshop was facilitated by Northern Marianas College's Liberal Arts Program coordinator Velma Deleon Guerrero, a former instructor in the college's school of education, a Mount Carmel School's 2007 Teacher of the Year, and NMC's 2010 Instructional Faculty of the Year. The facilitator provided information and insights on research-based strategies and techniques for the classroom.
School teachers also worked in groups to further analyze and evaluate different approaches to instruction and classroom management and took turns teaching each other new lessons they had learned. They identified areas in which they intended to improve throughout the school year as part of an overall professional growth plan.
“It was enlightening and refreshing, and it helped reinforce our prior knowledge about teaching,” said vice principal for curriculum and instruction Bobby Baldazo.
MCS president Galvin Deleon Guerrero, meantime, led the orientation sessions for parents and guardians. Presentations during the event were also conducted by Baldazo, school business manager Keiko Yamagata, and federal programs manager for PSS Tim Thornburgh.
Speaking about the paradigm shift he would like the whole school community to embrace, president Deleon Guerrero told parents, “We invite you to take ownership by getting involved. This is, after all, your school, and we want you to be part of the many wonderful changes happening at Mount Carmel School.”
Baldazo and Thornburgh separately discussed in their presentations about the expanded Title I program at the school, while Yamagata talked about the school's goals to raise more funds in order to keep Catholic education affordable yet sustainable.
'The first day: a day of firsts'
As is tradition, the first day of school began with an Opening Mass, which this year was celebrated by Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, Fr. Ryan Jimenez. In an effort to strengthen the relationship between the school and the diocese, Fr. Ryan was joined by several parish priests as concelebrants in the mass. While parish priests have concelebrated masses for the school before, this year marked the first year that they concelebrated the opening mass.
In another first for the school, students also participated in a special off-campus student orientation at Hollywood Theaters. They were treated to educational video clips, some theatrical trailers, the school's “I am a Knight” commercial series, and a special black light pantomime presentation by the Life in the Son Youth Ministry.
During the orientation, president Deleon Guerrero also spoke to students about expectations for the year. In his talk, he emphasized the need to live and breathe the school's mission “to educate the whole person to see with Christ's eyes,” and took time to explain how students can translate that mission into everything they do.
Student Council president, Jimin Ryu, was very impressed by the way the school year was started.
“Mr. G's words were very inspiring. It was really important for everyone to really understand what the mission statement means and I look forward to everyone applying it,” said the student leader.