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Low student-to-teacher ratio benefits SMHS academics

02/19/2021 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. Empowered by Knowledge. The second part of St. Mary’s High School’s identity focuses on knowledge. Since its inception in 1885, St. Mary’s has been providing excellence in education for the Colorado Springs community.

As the school’s mission statement asserts, St. Mary’s exists “to educate students in the Catholic tradition to be responsible, moral, critical thinkers and leaders well prepared for college and life.”

The school’s college-preparatory curriculum allows students to explore subjects that interest them, while challenging them to achieve at their highest levels. St. Mary’s Academic Support Program helps students who may struggle academically by teaching them study skills that will help them succeed in education far beyond their high school careers.

Dr. Andy Berson said the focus on achieving future goals starts on a student’s first day at St. Mary’s.

“St. Mary’s does a great job focusing the kids on what needs to be done to get into college,” Berson said. “That starts from day one; the conversation is about where do you want to go to college and what do you need to do to get there. That is true from the counselors to the teachers to the principal to the president.”

Krissy Cordova, mother of Emma who is a sophomore at St. Mary’s High School, said their family started with Catholic education when Emma was in pre-kindergarten.

The original thought was that their children would be able to choose what high school they attended, but the more the Cordovas heard about St. Mary’s, the more they thought the high school would be the best fit for their family.

“When we ran into alumni, whether they had attended 30 or 40 years ago or were a more recent graduate, we heard that their success was because they had gone to St. Mary’s,” Cordova said.

This may not be surprising considering that Colorado is home to several high-performing public schools with above-average student achievement. And Colorado Springs boasts several of the state’s top academically performing school districts. Academically, Colorado Catholic school students are on par with the state’s and nation’s highest academically performing schools.

So in a community that boasts many high-achieving school districts, why choose St. Mary’s?

Because what sets St. Mary’s High School apart is its personal touch. St. Mary’s smaller student-to-teacher ratio allows the faculty to truly get to know their students.

Berson said he and his wife, Megan, have seen this with their daughter Erin, who graduated from St. Mary’s in 2020.

“One of the great blessings we’ve seen for our daughter who has transitioned to college is that personal touch that the students have with their teachers,” he said. “We’ve had multiple teachers reach out to us and ask how she’s doing and they’ve reached out to her. I think that shows just how much the faculty cares about each and every student here.”

Cordova said she saw firsthand the faculty’s commitment to the success of their students when during Emma’s first semester at St. Mary’s, she contracted the flu and missed two weeks of school. While Emma was concerned about falling behind, Cordova said she wasn’t. When she saw how the faculty handled the situation, she knew that Emma would get back on track without any problems.

Berson also feels that his family’s experience has shown the investment that the St. Mary’s faculty make in their students. Through nurturing relationships, teachers help students achieve their goals. The faculty is invested in the students’ success, and the bonds that are created remain solid long after the students have moved on from the St. Mary’s campus.

“Our daughter’s experience shows how much the faculty cares about each and every student at St. Mary’s,” he said.

“The faculty has the opportunity, based on the class size, to get to know the students personally and they really take a great interest in how the kids are doing, not only while they’re here, but when they move on. I think that sets the kids up for success, not only here at St. Mary’s but where they go in college and the years beyond that.”

(Amy G. Partain is Director of Communications for St. Mary’s High School.

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