For nearly 20 years, Dr. Lucine Mastalerz has served as an educational administrator in both the public and private sector at elementary, middle and secondary schools. She has a special interest in the advancement of technology and special education initiatives as well as enhancing in-house learning programs to benefit her students. So it’s no surprise that in 2004 Mastalerz implemented a progressive strategy that eased the Academy of MATH into curriculum at St. Ferdinand Parish School. The result — students began exceeding the national norm on standardized tests, while teachers became excited and eager for the implementation of more AutoSkill programs within the school.
“Teachers were so happy with the Academy of MATH that they insisted on adding the Academy of READING,” said Mastalerz. “Before the program was ready in the fall I had teachers asking, ‘When does it start?’ The one thing teachers want to see is students who are really learning. They get excited; they’re very pleased with the programs.”
Dr. Lucine Mastalerz, Principal
In response to the overwhelming success the Academy of MATH instilled in this Chicago grade school, Principal Mastalerz added the Academy of READING just last year. Her overriding goal was to keep St. Ferdinand’s accelerated students challenged in an inclusive classroom setting while simultaneously addressing the reading needs of struggling students.
“Kids don’t like to be itemized and pulled out of class. The way we have our program set up, the students don’t know the difference. One kid is two years ahead, another is a semester behind. It takes us back to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory, and this gets the job done,” said Mastalerz. “You should see them in there! We keep the struggling students in closer proximity to the teachers, so they can step in when the students get frustrated, but everyone else just works on their own assignments.”
Last fall, Mastalerz did an informal survey that showed each and every student involved in the Academy of READING had more than a year of growth. While all of the Title 1 students improved, 25 percent of the Title 1 students acheived or exceeded the 50th percentile for their grade level.
Based on extensive research and proven in thousands of elementary, middle and high schools, the award-winning Academy of READING delivers a powerful intervention software solution that helps at-risk students achieve rapid, permanent gains in reading.
Mastalerz has been impressed with the Academy of READING because it answers specific weaknesses in the students. The program seamlessly enhances the learning environment so that kids at risk stay at grade level or they gain. Either way, they are sticking with it and continuing to learn.
“At St. Ferdinand, we work with the Academy of MATH and READING throughout the school — grade 3-8,” said Mastalerz. “This is what makes it so beneficial, because we’re using the same program across the board. Students come back in the fall and say, ‘Oh yeah, we did this last year.’”
For the first couple of years, St. Ferdinand teachers used the AutoSkill programs as a supplement to what they were doing. Now, it’s part of their everyday courses, and it’s the reason their scores are improving.
“Don’t get me wrong, the students need a quality teaching staff. What we have is the good instruction matched with seamlessly interfaced technology. It’s a combination — and that little bit of difference helps boost the students to the next grade level.”