St. Raphael School is blessed to be housed in a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2011. We are a unique school in that all of our students receive a significant amount of individualized attention. Differentiated learning and small-group instruction are woven throughout a rigorous academic curriculum. Our lower teacher-student ratios mean all children receive greater attention. We accelerate children who are ready to advance, while ensuring that those who require extra help get exactly that. We cap each grade at 26, and our learners are broken into smaller groups for reading and math instruction. With a dedicated block of at least one hour per day for each subject, our students are growing in both areas and have some of the highest test scores in the Archdiocese of Washington.
To enhance our curriculum and instruction, St. Raphael School incorporates state-of-the-art technology. Interactive whiteboards in every classroom include document cameras for dynamic learning as well as ActiVotes, which are handheld devices that each child uses to link to the Promethean board. Every middle-school student is assigned a tablet, which can be linked to the Promethean board using our Apple TV devices. Teachers use online programs from such sources as SAFARI Montage and ClassFlow to provide students with the most up-to-date information available and to simply make learning more fun. We have computers in every classroom available for student use, as well as a fully equipped media center. All work together to provide enriched, challenging learning.
St. Raphael School's curriculum is driven by the Archdiocese of Washington Academic Standards. Originally the ADW modeled its curriculum after the top-ranked Indiana Standards, which were an easy segue to inclusion of some of the Common Core Standards. We do not "teach to the test" but instead employ thematic approaches to education. By developing a framework around a core theme, our teachers identify specific multidisciplinary goals. These areas of academic study are then enriched by the Core Knowledge Sequence, which is a sequential building of knowledge to avoid repetition and gaps in basic areas of learning. Each grade level has an average of three Signature Units. Students explore independently and as a group as they accomplish the cross-curricular milestones. Typically these subjects culminate with a field trip or an in-school presentation. These units spice up our traditional foundation of learning—which is language rich, math heavy, and includes a hands-on science approach—while always keeping our Catholic identity in the center.