Inside Josephinum Academy

With the STC 2018 National Forum just around the corner, we’re taking some time to focus in on some of the exciting features of the 2-day event. One of the crowd favorites? Study Tours! STC Chicago will lead interactive study tours to schools that exemplify strands of the Real-World Learning Rubric.

Josephinum Academy will focus on “Student Success Extend[ing] Beyond Academics.” Josephinum has created a “Grad for Grad” profile to outline all the skills and competencies needed for success in the real world. They then mapped backwards from those goals to ensure their programs will effectively prepare their girls for the future. That includes International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and real-world assessments. We talked to Mary Rose Guerin, Principal of Josephinum Academy, about their holistic vision of student success.

“Our vision is to develop the future leaders, peacemakers, and visionaries of tomorrow,” she explains. “Education is a means to help build the skills, competencies, and mindsets to do that.” At Josephinum Academy, their International Baccalaureate (IB) program offers students opportunities for real-world learning as well as service. Students are taught critical and analytical thinking while engaging in extracurricular activities that promote creativity and action. “IB positions the leader as the doer. With IB, the students learn the skills to be successful in [their] field,” Guerin says. “Our assessments are designed to allow kids to showcase the skills needed for the real world. We strive to teach kids how to think- not what to think.”

Guerin talked to us about Brenda, a senior, who excels in the IB program because she’s been able to showcase her skills across different subjects, from math to fine arts. This experience has helped shape her path going forward: “Through her work in IB, she has developed a passion and skill for the Arts,” says Guerin. “This has resulted in [her taking responsibility to design] all the publications for our Theatre program.  She has also been accepted as a Posse Scholar and will attend Trinity College next fall.”

When thinking of the Josephinum grad profile, Guerin explains that, as a Sacred Heart and IB school, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional growth are all equally important.  “We strive to have our students be principled and critical thinkers. As a staff, it forces teachers to think holistically when implementing curriculum,” Guerin says. “It pushes them to think about the skills we want our students to leave with and how to spiral these skills through the 9-12 experience. Teachers create intentional opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate these scaffolded skills.”

Students get to see those skills play out in real-life, too. Guerin told us about Jailene, a senior, who, in addition to being an excellent academic student, is committed to building peace across Chicago – and beyond. “She has been working… as a Peace Builder, where she is learning new skills and even got a chance to spend some time in India to meet with students and youth organizations committed to nonviolence and tolerance,” says Guerin. “She is committed to bringing back to her neighborhood of North Lawndale… what she has learned.  Her peace work is continuing with a trip to Myanmar this summer before she goes to college at the University of Wisconsin- Madison in the fall.”

Increasingly, students need chances to cross cross-cultural boundaries, which Guerin points out: “They need to gain cultural competencies, so they can go out into the world and interact with people with different backgrounds, experiences, race and ideologies.  Education needs to provide space and impel students to make change in the world,” she says. “We live in a global world.”