Holy Family students put caring into action

Pope Francis named Nov. 19, 2017, the First World Day of the Poor and called all people to "love, not with words but deeds."

Recently, the second-grade students at Holy Family Catholic Academy, Inverness, have given witness to what the Pope refers to as the "transformative power of charity."

"We witness this transformation when our students, no matter their age, encounter an issue, learn about it, and act to help address the problem," said Holy Family Catholic Academy Principal Kate O'Brien,

As a candidate in the International Baccalaureate World School Programme, Holy Family Catholic Academy employs an interdisciplinary approach to teaching that uses inquiry-based learning to develop critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork skills.

This type of learning requires mastery of reading, writing and math, however, Holy Family Catholic Academy expands this learning by applying that knowledge to an authentic issue.

Holy Family Catholic Academy's second-grade teachers Catherine Lyon and Susan Marinelli, together with Holy Family Catholic Academy International Baccalaureate World School Programme coordinator Colleen Biere, developed a second-grade economics unit that integrated math, reading, technology, Spanish, geography and faith into a single project.

The project was introduced with a Kid President video that challenged students to identify something "that is not OK," determine what resources they have that can help the situation and, finally, commit to an action to help solve the problem.

The video led to discussions of needs vs. wants, goods and services and scarcity of resources. Marinelli illustrated scarcity of resources by explaining that some area children do not have warm socks for winter.

"The students had no idea that socks could be an unmet need for some children and turned their empathy into action," said Marinelli.

The students met with their parents to determine ways to earn money to buy socks for children in need.

"Our parents were a huge component in helping teach about economic decisions as each family determined how much their child could earn by completing a household chore," Lyon said.

The money began to come in as children earned a quarter for making their bed or 50 cents for taking out the garbage. In total, the Holy Family Catholic Academy students earned more than $500.

They then turned to their research skills to decide the best way to get the most value for their money.

Lyon and Marinelli have been involved in charity drives at other schools, but they contend that none have elicited the same level of student excitement and ownership as this unit.

"HFCA's approach to teaching and learning is unique. Teachers engage student-driven inquiries, guide students in seamless learning involving many subject areas and, most importantly, encourage students to act to make the world a better place," Lyon said.

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