Summer skills workshop at St. Ambrose Academy Print
Thursday, May. 01, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Students in Catholic schools devote much effort to mastering the subjects they study, like math, history, and literature, but also worthy of attention is how those students study, according to St. Ambrose Academy history and science teacher Michael Kwas.

"Good students aren't usually the smartest ones," Kwas said. "Instead, they are the ones who have learned how to study and have developed the best work habits."

Kwas, who is working on his doctorate in the UW-Madison History Program, has been teaching at St. Ambrose Academy since 2013 and has recently been put in charge of designing the curriculum for an academic skills workshop which will be offered by St. Ambrose this summer from July 28 to August 14.

The workshop has been made possible by a grant from the Raskob Foundation of Wilmington, Del., and will be offered to summer students starting sixth to ninth grade in the fall. Although primarily offered for new St. Ambrose students, space is available in the program to interested students attending school elsewhere during the school year depending on sign-up numbers.

Focus of the workshop

"The workshop focuses on improving what psychologists term 'performance character,'" Kwas said, which he defined as "those self-directed habits necessary to succeed in performance contexts such as school."

The workshop will meet in the classrooms of the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish religious education wing at 602 Everglade Dr. on Madison's west side Monday through Thursday with field trips being offered on Fridays.

Olivia Smithmier-Bohn, who has been teaching seventh grade religion part-time at St. Ambrose while she completes her degree in theology and philosophy, will be assisting with the summer workshop. She brings a special perspective to the program, being one of the first graduates of St. Ambrose Academy in 2009.

"There is a strong correlation in my class between the students who do well on exams and the ones who seek help," Smithmier-Bohn said.

Help-seeking behavior is one of the critical academic skills addressed by the St. Ambrose workshop. Others include study skills, work habits, time management, and self-regulation.

More information

The tuition for the workshop is $200, but tuition assistance is available for families having financial need.

Kwas and Smithmier-Bohn will give a public presentation on academic skills and the goals of the summer workshop on Thursday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish social hall. To learn more, interested families can contact the St. Ambrose school secretary at 608-827-5863 or visit the school's website


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