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Principal 'raises standards' at St. John Catholic school

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 10:26 p.m.

The Rev. Thomas Galvin was looking for a new focus for St. John the Baptist Catholic School last summer as he interviewed principal candidates.

Galvin, pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, hired John Booher, who has worked in both the academic and business worlds, to “raise the standards (of the school) even more.”

Galvin said Booher has met the challenge that also is reflected in the theme for National Catholic Schools Week — “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards.”

St. John, along with other Catholic schools in the U.S., will celebrate the week — Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 — with an open house and other activities.

Galvin credits Booher with stepping up the school's technological offerings.

The 178 children in kindergarten through eighth grade as well as the 90 preschoolers have a variety of technology-based programs that support the curriculum.

One of the offerings is Accelerated Reader, a software program that monitors a student's progress in reading.

There are three steps to the program.

Students read a book, take a quiz using the software, and teachers get feedback to assist, motivate, monitor and target a student's instruction.

“It is a technology-based program in which students work at their own pace,” Booher said.

“It helps with reading comprehension and reading for content.”

St. John also has implemented Study Island, an academic software that includes lessons and activities that serve as benchmarks and preparation for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.

“Two students scored so well on it that their names are on the national (Study Island) registry,” Booher said.

Booher said differentiated instruction also has been implemented at St. John.

In the concept, students and teachers work in small groups.

“John sees these things and moves on them,” Galvin said.

Catholic Schools week kicks off at St. John with an 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday.

An open house follows at the school.

Other highlights of the week include a visit by the Pitt Mobile Science Lab through the University of Pittsburgh, a pep rally, an assembly with Joe Wos, a local cartoonist and storyteller, and a book fair.

Also, a ski trip to Seven Springs is planned for the seventh- and eighth-graders.

The sixth-graders have a bowling night planned at Nesbits Lanes, Booher said.

“We are doing fun things because everyone has worked hard to implement technology,” Booher said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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