Local business professionals, educators, community leaders, alumni and parishioners volunteered at Saint Mary School in Gilroy to interview 34 graduating eighth graders on their Student Learning Portfolios. Developed by two junior high Saint Mary School teachers, the annual project has set objectives to create personal learning portfolios that are the culmination of students’ years at the school. The self-directed project reflects the school’s mission statement and student learning expectations, and encourages student accountability in their academic work and personal lives.
The process of creating the portfolios promotes student self-awareness and reflects on their learning skills and achievements. After writing, documenting, and organizing their self-assessments and reflections, evidence of academic achievements, and areas of improvement in a binder, the students created personal display boards showing different elements in their lives such as faith, family, sports, and hobbies. The students also learned interview techniques and did mock interviews in preparation for the final step in the project, a formal interview with volunteers from the business, education, parish, and alumni communities.
During the interviews, students got the opportunity to discuss their achievements and learning experiences at Saint Mary School, how their faith will guide them as they move on to high school, and their plans for the future.
Kathy Almazol, Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of San Jose, and volunteer interviewer observed, “The program provides value to the students by giving them the opportunity to interview with people they don’t know where they present themselves, their strengths, and their faith, both in writing and verbally. After several years in a Catholic school, their reflections and collected work demonstrate how they have grown in their faith and community service, and how prepared for high school they have become. The students were poised during the interviews and showed strength and confidence in their presentations, all skills they will need in life.”
Another volunteer interviewer, Wendy Ronsse, registered nurse and long-time Saint Mary School parent, noted, “This is a wonderful project for the students. It allows them to reflect on where they’ve been in life and helps them to look ahead to establish goals for the future.”
Student Morgan Blundo said, “This project helped me reflect on my years at Saint Mary School and how far I have come. It also helped me to start thinking beyond high school and what I want to do in my career.”
Having participated as an interviewer in the program for many years, John Hunsperger, geneticist, commented, “I enjoy meeting the young people and seeing the education they are receiving at Saint Mary School, which is an indication of the adults they will become. Their education will support whatever endeavors they pursue and it is evident they have been allowed to develop their strengths and other skills needed to become strong, confident members of society.”