“My goal for Quincy Catholic Academy this year and my growth project for the Lynch Leadership Academy are focused on creating a community of academic excellence. We already have a very good curriculum and very good teachers; I want to have the best curriculum and the best teachers,” Cathy Cameron, principal of Quincy Catholic Academy said. In an effort to create the best school possible, Cameron has enlisted the help of her teachers, administrators, and parents to improve and expand teaching techniques and skills that increase the academic performance of students.
Cameron’s plan focuses on three areas to bring about change in teaching strategies and improve the academic performance of students: lesson planning, improved student engagement in lessons, and assessment.
She began the year by asking each teacher to read Teach Like a Champion, by Doug Lemov. The book highlights techniques to further engage students in the classroom. After the staff finished the book, Cathy brought all of the teachers together to discuss changes to their curriculum and instruction that will accommodate various learning styles and engage every student.
“We initiated a no-opt-out policy. If a student did not know an answer when called upon, the teacher was instructed to allow another student to answer, but then to immediately follow up with the first student to ensure she understood the concept,” Cameron explains. “Our teachers stopped asking for volunteers and started to cold-call students, ensuring that everyone in the class was engaged. We also let students work in groups to answer questions as a team, allowing students to really think through questions.”
Assessments at Quincy Catholic Academy changed as well, blending essays, drawings, and short answers into the mix with multiple-choice questions.
“We believe that these techniques are working, and at the end of this year we will evaluate our standardized test scores and our in-house exam grades to measure our success. Using this data, we will be able make appropriate changes and continue with practices that have proven successful,” she said.
Cameron describes her experiences at the Lynch Leadership Academy with fondness. Aside from Teach Like a Champion, she also was inspired by the Lynch Leadership Academy assigned texts, including Rigor Is Not a Four-Letter Word, and Driven by Data. “Hearing from the cohort of principals on their experiences has taught me new best practices and has inspired me and reinvigorated me to become a better leader,” she said.
“I have been exposed to a variety of sources of help in my quest to improve teaching and increase academic achievement. Our overall school vision was taken from the 'Stained Glass Window' philosophy referred to by one Lynch Leadership Academy speaker: not only expect 'good' but the 'best.' Students, faculty, staff, and parents share this vision for our school. The teachers and I are using the books Teach Like a Champion and Rigor Is Not a Four-Letter Word, both referred to during our Academy sessions, to improve teaching. I have encouraged improvement in assessment techniques, having been inspired by the book Driven by Data, which we discussed at the Academy. We have also analyzed our standardized test scores more thoroughly and effectively. The Lynch Leadership Academy experience has not only inspired me to expect 'excellence' from my teachers, my students, and myself, but it has given me concrete ways to implement an action plan to achieve that excellence. Quincy Catholic Academy is a better school because of my participation in the Lynch Leadership Academy."
Quincy Catholic Academy is a Catholic grade school that serves 376 students in grades PK-8 and has a student population that is 43% Caucasian, 33% Asian, 11% multi-race, 3% black/African-American, and 10% other. Of these students, 12% qualify for free and reduced lunch.