As they prepared for the start of the new school year, teachers from Catholic schools throughout the diocese met at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in Kenmore for training on important elements of the STREAM initiative, focusing on the fields of science, technology, religion, engineering, art and mathematics. A total of 400 teachers from 30 schools came to the high school to learn more about 28 topics including STEM courses, tech courses, science lab courses and other aspects of the initiative, which has been well-received as a model in educating children to pursue promising career paths.
After a performance by the SJCI swing choir and a brief introduction from Robert Scott, AFSC, longtime president of St. Joe's, and other representatives of the diocesan Catholic Education Department, the visiting teachers proceeded to sessions focusing on STREAM academies including "Lego U," "Rockin' Rollercoaster," "Ignite the Power of Art," "Robotics," "You're the Balm" and "Kitchen Chem." After lunch, they continued on to tech and ESP kit science training sessions, with the focus of the day on continuing to implement the many interactive activities the STREAM program makes available to students.
"That is the most exciting thing that can happen. Our excitement is contagious, because our kids are getting excited. Excited about what? About learning, and about being back in our Catholic schools," said Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, superintendent of Catholic schools. "I'm so happy that we are here for the fourth year in a row, kicking off another STREAM year. It has been wonderful. Anytime I go to a meeting anywhere here in Buffalo, or anywhere in the United States, people see me and they'll say, 'Where are you from, Buffalo?' And they don't say 'snow' anymore. They say 'STREAM.' They know us."
Sister Carol expressed her belief that the Diocese of Buffalo has the best STREAM program in the country, and said the program has thrived here, thanks to the efforts of such individuals as Jean Comer, diocesan STREAM coordinator, and Shelly Reidy, diocesan professional development coordinator, both of whom have traveled around the country to talk to people in other states about how to implement a successful STREAM program in their own dioceses.
"Mostly, it's due to you," Sister Carol told the teachers in attendance. "I want to thank you, first and foremost, for putting us on the map for more than just snow and ice, for something else, something that's wonderful."
The lessons that teachers learned will also help students to succeed in the fourth-annual X-STREAM Games and Expo, which will take place at St. Joe's on Sunday, Dec. 3, this year. This event allows students of all grade levels to compete against others in the ultimate test of what they have learned via their STREAM classes and collaborate with others to show off their creations and months of hard work in their respective schools.
According to Scott, the growth of the St. Joe's campus is another example of how Catholic education is benefitting the Western New York community, in addition to the participation of the teachers in the training program to help improve the program for the future.
"I've watched it grow, and I've watched this space become larger and larger - the Cullen Center for the Arts, or the new innovation center across the street. All of it is designed, really, to give our young men more opportunity and to better prepare them for when they leave here and go on from here," Scott said of the St. Joe's campus. "School is important to me because it grounds us in terms of what we do as teachers ... To touch the hearts of your students is the greatest miracle that you can perform. I just want to thank you, as Catholic educators, for what you do with the young men and women that you teach every day."
Scott noted that Catholic education is unique in that it is about more than just providing students with a solid ground for continuing on in terms of secular subjects in academics, but also creating miracles and bringing young men and women closer to Jesus. "It's not about winning championships, or going to Harvard, or whatever, but we've got to have good schools," he said. "Parents want to send their sons and daughters to good schools, and in the Diocese of Buffalo, STREAM is an example of the excellence of our Catholic schools. What we're doing today, and what we will do throughout the course of the year, builds upon that excellence."