Philosopher John Dewey wrote, “if we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”  We now have the opportunity to embrace a new way of teaching that will prepare our students for a future we cannot imagine, while instilling in them the same core values and strong academic foundation our schools have instilled in the generations of students that came before them.


How we got here:

Innovation Team:
Rick Hefel, Kayti Decker, Phil Bormann, Korrin Schriver, Ron Meyers, Cole Smith, Barb Ressler, Katie Lenart, Lisa Krapfl, and Jolene Belken.

In 2015, a team of Holy Family educators gathered to study the best practices in education for the 21st century.  They asked themselves, “if we could reinvent education and do what’s right for our students, what would it look like?”


The group established a set of guiding principles that would serve as the barometer for educational models that were in alignment with Holy Family’s Catholic community, culture and educational values.  They broke into smaller teams to thoroughly investigate the educational landscape across the U.S., each focused on new levels of excellence. 


The teams researched, interviewed and visited schools, finally bringing the best models back to the table for evaluation by the larger group. Throughout the process, personalized learning quickly came into focus, and Summit Learning was the clear choice through the lens of the group’s guiding principles.  


Holy Family was invited to become a Summit Learning partner school in 2017 and began the implementation of personalized learning with a pilot group of 25 sixth-grade students. In our second year (2018-2019) at the secondary level, we added another 80 sixth-grade students and 40 ninth-grade students.  Seeing the power and benefits of this educational model, our elementary schools took on the challenge as well, in grades four and five.


Why personalized learning, and why now?

In every classroom throughout our school system, the diversity of student needs is great.  A student might join us in kindergarten already reading chapter books; meanwhile, a classmate is working on letter sounds. This dynamic is entirely common, but it calls for an uncommon response.  In personalized learning, teachers are armed with the resources to tailor instruction and meet individual student needs.


As the world around us evolves at a greater pace than at any other point in history, students, parents, educators and community leaders are keenly aware of the highly competitive and ever-changing workforce that lies ahead. In this reality, it is clear, the education we have all known will no longer fully meet the needs of today’s students.


Academic rigor will always be a top priority at Holy Family Catholic Schools, and personalized learning enables us to take education beyond content knowledge. By using a project-based curriculum that emphasizes creativity and hands-on problem solving, and by educating students based on transferable cognitive skills, Holy Family is providing an experience that will allow our students to adapt to their changing world. 


Personalized Learning will not only support every student on their path to subject mastery, but will arm them with the skills and habits to stand out in college and career; to persevere in the face of obstacles, and to foster a lifelong love of learning. Woven into the fabric of their education, through Faith in Action, our students are becoming self-aware and purpose-driven, sharing their God-given gifts with the world around them.


Our Vision 4–12:

Upon full implementation, core subjects in grades 4–12 will be infused with our faith, and our students will benefit from the tools and support available to Holy Family as a Summit Learning partner. Beyond the core subjects, students will continue to benefit from Holy Family’s tradition of Catholic educational excellence enhanced by personal mentorship, project-based learning and real-world experiences that cultivate students’ interest, enhance their sense of purpose and foster a love of learning.


Our Vision K–3:

By nature, education in early grade levels is already very personalized, as teachers get to know the various gifts and backgrounds each student brings to the classroom.


Over the course of several years, in-depth research, and in partnership with our school community, Holy Family will evaluate our options for personalized learning curriculum and resources to best meet the needs of students and families in grades K–3.


We have been asked whether the Summit Learning platform will be used in our K–3 classrooms.  While our partnership with Summit provides excellent tools and resources for our students and teachers in grades 4–12, Holy Family is not planning to utilize the Summit Learning platform for grades K–3.


If you would like to learn more about personalized learning at Holy Family, our school principals welcome your questions and conversations.  Please don’t hesitate to give them a call or set up a meeting.  You may also find helpful information on our personalized learning web page.