Middle School Rewards

At St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School, we like knowing that rewards come in different and, sometimes, surprising ways.

Fifteen of our 7th and 8th grade students took First Aid/CPR as their 9th period enrichment elective last quarter. Our school nurse, Mrs. Rhonda Wallace RN BSN, taught the class. Mrs. Wallace has taught many including ALL of our St. Mary’s school faculty and staff. (Note: The Catholic Diocese of Savannah, for which we are a part, requires first aid and CPR training for ALL faculty and staff.)

It was Mrs. Wallace’s first time teaching first aid and CPR to our middle school students, so she designed the class knowing that she would be teaching our students daily for nine weeks. She would be able to cover a lot of material in that time.

Let’s fast forward to the last day of the class…

Fortunately for me, my office was adjacent to Mrs. Wallace’s class. I had opportunities to see highlights of what the students were learning. I just happened to be in my office during their final class. Although the students spent time with hands-on practice during the nine weeks, Mrs. Wallace focused solely on possible scenarios--each with multiple issues--that required student teams to combine what they have learned to help someone.

I was highly impressed with our students’ ability to properly apply what they learned to help someone or even save a life. At the end of the class, Mrs. Wallace presented each student with their First Aid/CPR certificates and a starter first aid kit.

After class ended and as Mrs. Wallace was gathering her supplies, I told her how impressed I was with her students. Mrs. Wallace then said, “Teaching this class has been the most rewarding part of my career!” I was surprised by her statement because Mrs. Wallace has been a nurse for 27 years, including 25 years in Shock-Trauma ICU at a local hospital. Imagine all that she has done during her career, and all the people she has helped in those years. In that moment, she told me that teaching our middle school students was at the top of her list! Mrs. Wallace was also highly impressed with how well our students listened, practiced, and applied what they learned.

Mrs. Wallace is now teaching a new group of students this quarter. I expect that she will always remember her first 9th period First Aid/CPR class. I also believe that Mrs. Wallace's students will remember her class as well, especially since some of her students may be considering a career in the health care field.

I like knowing that our 9th period enrichment time is one example of how we strive to help our students prepare for high school and beyond.


Mrs. Wallace also spent time in class talking to her students about the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. She told them that story represents the purpose of the First Aid/CPR class. Learning how we can help others empowers us to step forward, help, and not just pass by someone in need.

9th Period Enrichment at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School

St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School has a 9th period enrichment time for students in grades 4-8. In grades 4 and 5, 9th period is a flex time where students can meet with teachers, work with enrichment resources in different subject areas, read, or participate in other activities.

Our 6th grade students participate in a 9th period Math Lab where they can practice math skills and be challenged with new skills using an interactive online math resource. Our students’ 9th period enrichment class also includes a focus on critical thinking, public speaking, Latin word roots, SAT/ACT vocabulary, study skills, guidance lessons, and study time.

Our 7th and 8th grade students can choose from a variety of 9th period enrichment electives. This quarter’s electives include broadcasting, creative mindfulness art class, crocheting (taught by one of our 8th grade students!), First Aid/CPR, Model UN, robotics, Spanish 1, and study time. Spanish 1 is a full-year elective for 8th grade students and is in addition to their weekly Spanish class.