Ensuring Student Success
Throughout the pandemic, the St. Mary’s Academy community has come together to prioritize the health and safety of students, particularly as it relates to their social/emotional wellness. There have been many learnings about how best to deliver the SMA education while also offering necessary support to our students. These learnings have resulted in many changes, from adjusted bells schedules to additional time dedicated to academic support. Principal Nicole Foran shares that the administrative team also looked closely at where there might be a new approach to staffing to offer better support to students.
“We identified there was an opportunity to provide deeper resources at the intersection of our academic support and counseling services,” explains Foran. “We were thrilled to be able to create two new positions to deliver against this need and are confident we’ve found incredible candidates to fill these roles and enhance our St. Mary’s community.”
The new hires include Michael Navarro, Student Success Specialist, and Cora Orme, Academic Support Specialist. Michael joins St. Mary’s with the goal of supporting students where multiple needs intersect. He explains, “In terms of counseling, academic support and advocacy, St. Mary’s already does each of those well. Where those three come together, is where kids really need support and where I will focus.”
As Academic Support Specialist, Cora will target three key initiatives in year one. First and foremost, she will implement a program to strengthen student study habits with a focus on building executive functioning skills. Secondly, she will work directly with students who may need support managing their specific academic load, including advocating on their behalf and identifying accommodations to ensure success. Finally, Cora will be elevating National Honor Society peer-to-peer tutoring into a leadership program and teaching specific skills to the student tutors to optimize their effectiveness.
Cora and Michael will work closely together, especially as they look at how St. Mary’s can better collect and utilize data to assess the best way to support students with academic needs. “We want to dig deeper,” shares Navarro, “We want to offer a different kind of support that delivers customized assistance based on specific opportunities for growth personalized to each student. Cora adds that she is “excited by the energy in the building and eager to get working.”