WORTHINGTON - St. Mary’s Catholic School is creating a new way for teachers to plan their curriculum.

Kari Smith, St. Mary’s principal, said a handful of Catholic dioceses across the U.S. are taking part in Notre Dame University’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). The Winona Dioceses, which Worthington falls under, is the only dioceses in Minnesota that is a part of ACE.

ACE’s goal is to incorporate federal and state educational guidelines while allowing them to bring religion into the mix.

“The curriculum focuses on those state content standards,” Smith said. “Here in the Diocese of Winona, we try really hard to bring in that religious piece and bring in our Catholic identity.”

This past year, ACE has been focusing on the social studies curriculum. Smith said that because this was the first year of the revamping process, it will take another year before it is ready to implement the new curriculum into schools.

The collaboration will also start to focus on mathematics this year and will continue to apply more subjects annually.

Smith said the intention is to make sure that teachers are all covering the same basic outline while still being able to formulate their own personal teaching plans.

“In so many schools you are told what you are going to teach, and this is giving the teachers a chance to help create that curriculum and create where we are going,” Smith said.

“Our goal with this is not to write lesson plans for the teachers,” she added. “We still want them to have some autonomy. Instead, our goal is to create a picture where we are headed.”

Smith has been enjoying her time working with ACE and is excited for the day when St. Mary’s can officially implement it.

“I think the biggest thing that I am looking for is student success,” Smith said.

“We want to see our students succeed and we want our teachers as equipped as possible to push these students into the 21st century.”

Smith also said the program should help when it comes time to update textbooks.

“We go through a textbook curriculum cycle and we are always looking for better more up-to-date text,” she said. “I think this (new curriculum) will help us make more informed choices.”

Smith is hoping that the new social studies curriculum will be implemented in the 2016-17 school year.

“It’s a great program,” she said. “I’m very passionate about it.”

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