July 7th, 2015
St. Francis de Sales School, located in West Philadelphia, has been awarded a $13,000 grant from The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia. This grant award will support the school’s latest technology initiative, the SAILOR (Science and Arts Innovative Learning On the River) STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) program.
St. Francis de Sales’ SAILOR program, sponsored by the Independence Seaport Museum, teaches students core STEM concepts while having them participate in hands-on learning through boat building. Last year, 12 students from the 7th and 8th grade at St. Francis de Sales participated in the program, visiting the river every Tuesday to construct their boats. By the end of June, the students had created two boats. St. Francis de Sales hopes to send another 12 students through the program for the 2015-16 school year.
“The lessons that the children learned were phenomenal,” said Sr. Mary McNulty, St. Francis de Sales Principal. “They had great pride in their finished products, so we owe a lot to the Seaport Museum, and to all of you for this wonderful program.”
During the program, students were required to present weekly reports on their progress. They were taught not only the basics of boat construction, but also how to properly operate the associated machinery. Through the SAILOR program, the students of St. Francis de Sales have truly transformed their educational experience, learning the fundamentals of core curriculum subjects while learning to work together as a team to achieve a common goal. For many students, this program is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“You can’t take the pennies of the poor and then deliver an inferior product,” said Sr. Mary McNulty. “You have to deliver the best. We have to, because these parents are sacrificing to have their children go here.”