Guest Blogger: Gina

Fr. Steve and two Native American students working on the computer.
Who is teaching who?

What a year our students have had!  The biggest change was me!! My name is Gina and I teach computer class.

I came to St. Joseph’s in September fresh out of the business world.  Together, the students and I grew by leaps and bounds.  Among a lot of new skills acquired , the first and second  graders now know what a CPU (central processing unit) is, what the letters stands for, and what it does.  Besides improving their typing skills every class period, they delved into programs such as KidPix and MS Word making graphic pictures and posters.

The best part of helping  kids at this level is the moment when they “get it” and they realize they do.  There was one young boy who consistently had a LOT of trouble just signing in to the computer with his name and password.  Shortly after Christmas break, he was in class and I heard a big shout out from behind me, “I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!!” and he threw up his hands in triumph!

He had finally mastered signing in without help from me or his neighbors.  I went over and high-fived him, and the ear-to-ear grin on his face said it all!  That was worth every struggle he had weathered,  just to see the sense of accomplishment and pride he had at that moment.

The third graders learned many new things in Word and KidPix also, but their final project was learning an internet based program called Little Bird Tales where they wrote a book titled “All About Me.

They had fun drawing scenes from their lives and writing a sentence about it.  When they finished their project, the stories were printed and bound so students could take them home and share with their families.

Monster's at St. Joseph's Indian School.
Joe’s monster he drew for the Monster Exchange!

The fourth and fifth graders did a Monster Exchange project where they drew a “monster” in the Paint program and then wrote a description of it to exchange with the other class.  They then had to try and draw the other class’ monster from the description.  The results were quite interesting to say the least!  They learned that drawing from the description was not as easy as it seems.

The upper classes (sixth  through eighth) learned a lot about Microsoft Office and its programs.  For one of their projects, each student made a PowerPoint presentation about themselves and their life at St. Joseph’s.  They learned all about the bells and whistles of the program. They LOVED to have the computer applaud for them as they started their presentation!

One of the best projects we did this year was with the eighth graders in collaboration with the Social Studies class.  They are required to write a research paper and present it to the school, so we worked together to complete the project. We did assignments that would benefit them not only in computers but would also be some of the work they had to do in Social Studies.  I really enjoyed doing this as it showed the kids that the stuff we do in class does have an actual real life purpose.  I really hope next year I can do more projects like that.

All in all it has been a very productive year for us.  I am looking forward to finding new and fun ways for them to learn all about technology.

Only two weeks away

As I reflect back upon the 2011-2012 school year, it is difficult for me to believe the end of the school year is only two weeks away.  It does not seem as though we have already gone through 38 weeks of school!

I know many of the students are counting down the days until their summer vacation arrives however, as a classroom teacher, I get a little down around this time of year.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my summer vacation just as much as the students, but I also miss the kids and wonder how they are all doing at their homes.  I sometimes come out to St. Joseph’s campus during the summer and think to myself,

“Wow, it sure is boring here without all the students running around and chatting.”

Eighth-grade graduation is upon us. Some of our students will be attending our high school program, while other students have made alternative plans for their future.  It is a time of excitement and pride, but also anxiety for both staff and students.  As staff, we have known some of these students since they were in first grade.  We have developed relationships, shared stories, shared laughter, had disagreements over rules or assignments, and sometimes even listened through our students’ tears.

Regardless of what our students have gone through in their lives, they can look back on their time at St. Joseph’s and realize they have grown, whether it be physically, emotionally, or simply that they are graduating from eighth grade.  They have had many accomplishments; they have formed many bonds, both with adults and their classmates that will continue no matter where they choose to go in their lives.  They should be proud of themselves, for they have made it.  It may have been difficult, but they have fulfilled the requirements for their first eight years of schooling.

On May 25, there will be a chapel full of people watching as each student is handed their diploma and shares their favorite memories of being a student at St. Joseph’s.  As I look forward to that day, I can’t help but smile.  For I, too, have a feeling of accomplishment.  I was given the wonderful opportunity of being a part of these students’ lives and I have helped them grow.  I can only hope I’ve done my best because more than anything these children deserve the absolute best, as they are our future.  The smiles on the graduates faces as they receive their diplomas is my motivation to continue on with my work here at St. Joseph’s, as I can see by both the piece of paper in their hands and the twinkles in their eyes that I have made a difference.

This difference would not be possible without the donations from our many generous benefactors.  I want to take the time to thank you for your generosity and kindness over the 2011-2012 school year.  Without you, none of this would be possible.


Pride and accomplishments at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Our Board of Directors meeting is over. Most of the meeting was taken with budget issues. The Board voted to accept the budget as it was presented. Besides keeping on what we’re already doing, it will allow us to move ahead with the Strategic Plan that we laid the groundwork for. While the Board meetings generally go well, with good feedback, evaluation and challenge, it feels good to have them finished. I always feel a bit tired and drained when they are over. But I also had feelings of pride when my staff presented what each of the departments has accomplished this past year.

One benchmark we’ve been working hard at is high school retention. The efforts seem to be paying off. While nearby schools fight a nearly 50% drop out rate, we still have 38 of the 40 high school students who started the year. The two who left St. Joseph’s Indian School are currently enrolled in high schools back home, and hopefully will be part of a generation that completes school and sets their sights higher.