Saint Raphael first High School in Rhode Island to Become STEAM Academy


PAWTUCKET — Many gathered on Monday, May 6 to celebrate Saint Raphael Academy’s achievement of attaining STEAM certification from Roger Williams University.

Faculty, administration, students, and members of the University College at RWU came together at the Coutu Theater to mark the completion of a three-year professional development journey to incorporate STEAM practices into the curriculum. The Academy is the first and only STEAM-certified high school in Rhode Island.

“I have held for a long time that integrated STEAM instruction gets to the core truths and the very principals of an authentic Catholic education,” said Dan Ferris, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Because an authentic Catholic education is about pursuit of the truth. It is not merely about college or career readiness, although that is important. Or even making a productive contribution to society, although that is important, too. It is about seeking objective truth and the truths of each discipline.”

STEAM is an initiative that incorporates the arts (the “A” in STEAM) into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum, instruction and assessment. The initiative to expand STEAM curriculum in the diocese district began in 2015 with the diocese’s partnership with Roger Williams. SRA is the third school in the diocese to complete the training.

Barbara Larned and Sara Costanzo, STEAM coordinators at SRA, presented student work and commended the faculty and students for fully embracing STEAM in their classrooms. A colorful array of students’ STEAM projects was also displayed in the Navigant Art Gallery.

Judy Baxter, Vice Principal of Academics explained that STEAM is an ongoing part of the curriculum, and she encouraged teachers to design something that was curriculum based that would enhance the lessons in the classroom. As a result, teachers are reaching out to each other across campus to collaborate.

Tom Pilecki, adjunct professor at the University College, who was referred to often during the program as “the guiding force” in working with the faculty and administration at SRA, and Jamie Scurry, Vice President of the University College at RWU, presented a certificate to Baxter.

In addressing the students, Pilecki commented, “You guys are the heroes, and the wonderful staff here are just amazing. You are lucky to have them, because as Mr. Ferris said [earlier in the program], you might not realize it for a few years, but you had a marvelous experience here.”