St. Ann, The Personal School in East Harlem, one of 14 schools in New York City honored this month with the 2016 Blackboard Award for Outstanding School, is a model for other schools in the archdiocese and beyond.
“What’s happening at St. Ann’s is happening because of everyone in our community. It’s an amazing place because everyone is actively engaged in making it this way,” St. Ann’s principal, Hope Mueller, told CNY of the Dec. 5 honor recognizing excellence in education in New York City given by New York Family magazine.
“The last three years we came together and changed everything. Every person in our school worked so hard to change our culture. To get this award, the pride we all felt was amazing. We all know we did it together.”
The school, which extended its name from St. Ann to St. Ann, The Personal School in the 2014-2015 school year, was recognized for its use of the Blended Learning teaching model, which uses technology-driven data to determine the best approach to educating students.
“This award is a true testament to the high standards of academic excellence that all of our Catholic schools aspire to, not to mention the dedication of St. Ann’s phenomenal faculty and students, and the success of the innovative, technology-driven Blended Learning teaching model,” said Dr. Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, in a statement.
Ms. Mueller said student morale and attendance, state test scores and enrollment have all been on the rise since the school began using the Blended Learning teaching model for the 2015-2016 school year. Since then, some 200 visitors from across the country have come to St. Ann’s to see how blended learning is being used to educate the children, she said.
The archdiocese selected St. Ann’s as a model school for blended learning from the Manhattan region in 2014. Blended learning allows for educating and challenging each child in an individual way by using technology and new teaching methods in the classroom, according to St. Ann’s website. Students are separated into groups—one working on a collaborative assignment, another using iPads and Chromebooks, and a third working with the teacher on targeted direct instruction.
“We can vouch every child in our school has their own education plan,” said Ms. Mueller, now in her third year as principal after being assistant principal at St. Ann’s for two years.
“Using technology and the data the technology gives us, teachers can personalize an education for each child. You can see where each child needs help and use classroom time to bridge those gaps.”
Sara Collins, coordinator for blended learning in the archdiocese, said there are now 26 schools in seven counties in the archdiocese using blended learning.
“St. Ann’s was one of our first Blended Learning schools and they have helped to form a model we currently utilize in many of our schools,” Ms. Collins said.
St. Ann’s is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2016. The school, with 230 students in PreK3 through the eighth grade, made news in September 2015 when Ms. Mueller and six students met Pope Francis at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem.
“The community as a whole, it’s become such a joyful place to be,” Ms. Mueller said.