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STEAM / World Languages


St. Mary’s is committed to creating transformative educational experiences with creative learning opportunities. Opportunities designed to solve real-world problems, to explore different ideas, and to inspire flexible and persistent problem-solvers. This is at the heart of STEAM.
STEAM is an educational approach connecting the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. These disciplines serve as access points for learning, guiding student inquiry and promoting creative and critical thinking, the foundation of an International Baccalaureate education.   
Each STEAM experience is a rich, meaningful task that begins with a challenge or driving question. How can we create carnival games featuring simple machines? or What polyhedrons make beautiful lanterns? Applying the skills found within each of the disciplines - for example, scientific discovery, artistic creativity, and mathematical reasoning - to their work in an integrated approach allows students to understand learning extends beyond a single classroom, book, or course.
STEAM projects are hands-on and experiential, and the students work through the IB design cycle to find possible solutions. The IB design cycle structures the inquiry and analysis of these real-world problems. It allows students opportunities to focus on the process of and purpose for their learning, taking thoughtful risks as they develop, create, test, and analyze their solutions. Solutions may take the form of a model, prototype, product or system. Students drive their own learning, considering their responsibilities when making decisions and taking action - core principles of an internationally-minded student.
By giving our students opportunities to find possible solutions to real-world problems through STEAM experiences, we have the power to not only revolutionize what our students learn, but how they view their impact on the world. They see themselves as leaders and innovators.  At St. Mary’s, our students don’t have to wait to change the world, they can start today.

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The Arts

Our mission for the Arts Programme at St. Mary’s School is to provide students with a brave and safe space that encourages curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and resilience. Students will inquire into the ways we express ourselves creatively, communicate ideas and feelings, and understand the impact art has on themselves, others, society, and different cultures. We believe that the Arts constitute a universal language that empowers students to venture beyond their own perceived potential and to develop an authentic voice, life skills, and an appreciation for the arts beyond the classroom. 

The Arts are an integral part of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Programme, students develop through creating, performing, and presenting arts in ways that engage and convey feelings, experiences and ideas.

It is through this practice that students acquire new skills and master those skills developed in prior learning.

Students have opportunities to function as artists, as well as learners of the arts.

What is the significance of arts in the PYP?

Arts in the PYP exemplify learning through inquiry because of the emphasis on, and the nature of, the creative process. 

Arts provide a unique vehicle to enhance the understanding of transdisciplinary themes by providing both students and teachers with a range of mediums with which to access the units of inquiry.

How are arts structured in the PYP?

In PYP years, art teaching and learning are infused into all areas of the curriculum. Single-subject teachers take responsibility for the different arts areas. 

PYP arts single-subject areas currently include:
  • Visual Arts
  • Music
  • Dance

What is the significance of arts in the MYP?

Arts stimulate young imaginations, challenge perceptions and develop creative and analytical skills.

Involvement in the arts encourages students to understand the skills in context and the cultural histories of artworks, supporting the development of an inquiring and empathetic worldview.

Arts challenge and enrich personal identity and build awareness of the aesthetic in a real-world context.

How are arts structured in the MYP?

In MYP years 1 and 2, students select two Arts disciplines, one for Semester 1 and one for Semester 2. For example, they may choose Media Arts in Semester 1 and Dance in Semester 2.

For Year 3, students select one Arts discipline that they will take the entire year. 

For MYP Music Years 1, 2 & 3 students select an ensemble option (Strings or Winds) which they will be enrolled in for both semesters. These are year-long courses. They will not be able to select another arts option for the year.

The Arts disciplines offered in the MYP are:
  • Visual Arts: Visual Art, Media Arts.
  • Performing Arts: Dance, Theatre, Music

World Languages

Learning multiple languages at St. Mary’s provides students with many cognitive and practical advantages. As a required component of the IB programme, students have the opportunity to become critical and competent communicators in more than one language. They develop insights into the features, processes and craft of language and concept of culture, and realize that there are diverse ways of living, behaving and viewing the world. 

Language Acquisition Studies
    • Spanish
    • French
    • Mandarin Chinese

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  • Language Acquisition Goals

    Our Language Acquisition curriculum aims to:
    • Develop a respect for, and understanding of, diverse linguistic and cultural heritage
    • Develop the student's communication skills necessary for further language learning, and for study, work and leisure in a range of authentic contexts and for a variety of audiences and purposes
    • Enable the student to develop an appreciation of a variety of literary and non-literary texts and to develop critical and creative techniques for comprehension and construction of meaning
    • Enable the student to recognize and use language as a vehicle of thought, reflection, self-expression and learning in other subjects and as a tool for enhancing literacy
    • Offer insight into the cultural characteristics of the communities where the language is spoken
    • Encourage an awareness and understanding of the perspectives of people from other cultures, leading to involvement and action in their own and other communities
    • Foster curiosity, inquiry and a lifelong interest in, and enjoyment of language learning

    Exposure to world languages begins in the Early Education Program (EEP) and continues through the Lower and Middle Schools. Every student in EEP and Lower School is introduced to Spanish. At this stage, students develop receptive and productive language skills while they learn to comprehend and respond to spoken and visual language. All students in Grade 5 are introduced to additional world languages and receive instruction in Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish. This approach provides students both exposure and experience in order to make an informed decision when selecting their language for their Middle School years.

    In Middle School, students select and commit to a language of study for three years. At this stage, students transition from “learning the language” to “learning through and about the language” They, also, are provided with a variety of contexts to engage and experience these languages in unique and meaningful manners. Special guest presentations, field trips, traditional celebrations and cultural events are just some of the opportunities students have to gain competency in the target language.

Students in the Middle School have the irreplaceable opportunity to participate in one or more of the four language and culture based field studies. The trips to Costa Rica, France and Hong Kong & China, along with the Italian Exchange Program, are designed to further develop our students’ language skills and foster cultural appreciation for these locations. Please refer to the International Field Studies section in "The Benefits>Open to the World" to learn more about these trips.