Curriculum

Our teachers and our curriculum prepare students for the challenges of high school and a lifetime of learning in a changing world. Alongside teaching an excellent, competitive core curriculum, St. Robert Bellarmine students learn resilience in a deep faith community. We have a strong commitment to helping students learn and grow to see themselves as unique individuals in relationship to God, society, and the global community.

While technology is a growing part of our day-to-day lives, the fundamentals of learning are still based on face-to-face interaction. A personal connection between student and teacher, as well as group interaction with peer-to-peer mentoring are hallmarks of our program.

Language Arts | We believe it is critical to develop the ability to use language to effectively convey ideas. Our curriculum stresses skills in grammar, composition, reading, spelling, library science, and handwriting. As the most basic and essential subject taught in the elementary grades, reading is given high priority. In PreK-4 through grade 2, the Superkids program from Rowland Reading Foundation is part of our curriculum to develop proficiency in young readers. Students in grades 5, 6 and 7 are offered two levels of Reading instruction: grade level and honors level. At all levels, we maintain a close relationship between Reading and English classes so students come to appreciate both comprehension and writing as the twin skills of language. Poems and essays written by our students are regularly included in nationally-judged anthologies.

Mathematics | Our math curriculum focuses on conceptual manipulative work in the lower grades and disciplined analysis and accuracy in the middle grades. Critical thinking skills are stressed so students learn to productively apply not only arithmetic skills, but also mathematical concepts. Beginning in 5th grade, students begin a progressive course of study with the ultimate goal of algebra and geometry in 8th grade. Students in grades 5-8 are offered two levels of Math instruction: grade level and honors level. Honors math culminates with 9th grade Algebra I for 8th grade Honors students, taught by a high school math teacher through our partnership with DePaul College Prep.

Science | Beginning at the earliest ages, students are encouraged to explore and question the world around them. In the primary grades, students study nature and all its components through inquiry and exploration. In middle school years, students explore the physical, chemical, life and earth science concepts that were begun in the primary grades. Experiments assist the middle school student in better understanding the concepts presented in class. In the junior high, students broaden their understanding of science. 7th graders compete in a school-wide science fair. Winners compete at the regional level at the Museum of Science and Industry and from there are invited to compete at the state level.  Science is not limited to text books and classroom studies. Trips to the Cernan Space Center and FermiLab provide an opportunity to continue to grow in their understanding of the world around them. Our school also participates in the Inquiry-Based Science Teaching in the Middle Grades Partnership with Loyola University, a holistic approach to science instruction in 6th-8th grade.

Social Studies | The Social Studies program begins with the concepts of community and human relationships; concepts that are related to our school’s purpose as a faith ministry of our parish. History and Geography form the core of the program. We are concerned throughout the sequence with broadening our students’ understanding, appreciation, and critical analysis of cultural, political, and economic diversity—essential characteristics of the contributing adult in our society.

Spanish | Students begin to learn the language at an age-appropriate level through songs and activities. Students will then learn basic vocabulary and elementary language patterns. Reading and the telling of stories will give insight into daily life and culture. The emphasis is on acquiring vocabulary through the development of both listening and reading skills. The acquisition of speaking and writing skills are developed. Attention is also given to developing an awareness of Spanish-speaking cultures. Children will also learn Catholic prayers in Spanish.

Art | Art experiences help students develop an understanding of art as a visual means of expression. In addition, Young Rembrandts classes are one of the enrichment programs offered after school.

Music | Students have weekly music classes and experience music in a variety of ways including singing, listening, and movement. We also have choir for students in grades 1–7, directed by our parish music director, who is also a certified teacher. In addition, opportunities to expand individual musical instruction are also offered as enrichment programs.

Physical Education | Our PE program helps students master individual goals related to physical coordination and a healthy lifestyle. PE instruction reflects the current sports season and/or worldwide events such as the Olympics or World Cup. Classrooms also have recess daily, which gives students time for unstructured physical play that complements academic pursuits.

Religion | We use the Silver Burdett Religion Series as a text, but religious education permeates all that we do in our school. The series focuses on stories from scripture and from the lives of saints in our tradition and connects those stories to the day to day lives of the students and the world. Our students also put their faith into action through service projects, character education, prayer services, retreat days and participation in Friday liturgies.

Technology | There is always something new in technology. The theme at every grade level is to experiment and figure it out! In pre-school our students work on shape recognition, colors, letters, numbers, and even the very basics of computer programming, all on iPads. In pre-k the students get familiar with the computer keyboard, mouse, and screen using MS Paint. They learn to click on buttons to change colors and brush size. They can insert and change the sizes of shapes. They begin to find letters on the keyboard. Kindergarten through second grade will continue to familiarize themselves with the keyboard, mouse, and screen. They will learn basic concepts of computer programming with the curriculum from Code.org. There are three goals for students in grades 3-8: 1) Learn the keyboard. It’s hard to use a computer if you can’t find the keys! We use freetypinggame.net and typing.com. 2) Learn MS Office. Students and adults at work will use MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint for years to come. Our students learn the basics of these programs, and they experiment and figure out more that can be done with these tools. 3) The United States is a world leader in developing computer applications. At the same time we are very short of computer scientists. Therefore, our third goal is to teach computer programming. We use the curriculum from Code.org plus a fantastic and fun language, developed at MIT, called Scratch. In conjunction with programming there will be units on robotics, HTML, and Python (a professional programming language).

Addressing Individual Needs | Individual needs are addressed in a variety of ways. In upper grades, we offer honors math and reading. We have a Title I teacher for students in K–8 who need support. In addition, we have three part-time teachers in grades K , 1 and 2 who give extra support for students who need either remedial help or enrichment in a small group setting.

Study and Homework Help | Students in 5th and 6th grade have study periods supervised by teachers built into their school day. We also have Homework Club which provides supervised time with help from teachers after school. Junior High Tutors are also available help younger school children one-on-one in particular subjects. Parents can arrange this tutoring by calling the principal. Students also have Library class.

Character & Conduct | St. Robert Bellarmine has very high standards for conduct. All members of our school community contribute to creating a compassionate and cooperative culture where students respect individual differences, cultivate their own unique talents, demonstrate respect and integrity, and strive to do their best in all endeavors. In addition to our foundational values, we have programs such as PeaceBuilders, a science-based, research-validated violence prevention curriculum, D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to help children build skill to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence, and our Prayer Partners program which offers older students the opportunity to be positive role models for younger children. Social justice activities encourage students to think about how they contribute to the world, and the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation foster spiritual growth and provide meaningful rites of passage.

“I’m extremely pleased with the progress my son has made since transferring to SRB. The nurturing environment really makes a difference.” — Parent of a transfer student