For nearly 100 years, Father Ryan High School has been forming lives of excellence in the Catholic tradition. In 2019, the school launched its new strategic plan, which inspired us to think about the next 100 years.
The plan challenged us to think about how we educate students during a time of formation and change. It also challenged us to deepen the Father Ryan experience and enhance meaningful relationships through a culture of engagement and involvement.
We asked ourselves: How will Father Ryan develop spiritual servant-leaders with a global view and a thirst for inquiry, creativity, and problem-solving, while challenging students to reach their full potential, in a way that doesn’t simply focus on GPA or achievements on the field?
To answer this question, we searched high and low. A single model emerged, one used at more than 50 Catholic high schools. One that provides a safe environment that allows students to explore, develop and navigate experiences that will shape their future. One where students will be known, and they will be loved.
A house system is a way to make a large high school feel smaller and increase the level of mentoring and pastoral care provided to students while increasing the number of student leadership opportunities.
Father Ryan’s House System will foster a caring and supportive environment where students from all grades will have more opportunities to lead, collaborate and contribute. This model allows for more peer-to-peer mentoring, leadership opportunities, and spiritual development.
An anchor of the House System is the student-faculty relationship. Over the course of four years, students will interact with a mentor who will foster social and emotional intelligence. These soft skills are difficult to teach in a traditional setting.
Studies show that academic performance is positively impacted when there’s an atmosphere of care and connection. With Father Ryan’s House System, student care and connectedness will be amplified like never before! The house system model will address a student’s social and emotional learning, which is a vital educational component. Those so-called “soft skills,” like cooperation and communication, are imperative for college and career success, but their development is often lacking in our tech-focused world. The house system model is designed to fill this void.
It is true that Father Ryan is already a place where students are known and loved for who they are. The House System enables that promise to be lived out in more tangible ways each day. As students meet in a mentor group of mixed grade levels and develop an ongoing relationship with a faculty or staff mentor over four years, the Father Ryan experience can be deepened by helping students find a sense of belonging and value in a supportive community.
The House System divides students, faculty and staff into six houses. Each of these smaller communities will have a faculty leader and a school counselor. Houses will then be separated into smaller mentor groups, led by a mentor teacher. These mentor groups meet daily and stay together through graduation, all while allowing students more chances to discover their talents, lead their peers, and celebrate successes in a supportive community.
The school day will look much the same with slight variation in timing. There will still be an alternating block schedule with A days and B days for a total of eight classes (four per day). In addition, every day will still include a morning break. The new addition to the schedule will be a mentor group, which will meet daily.
One of the advantages of a Father Ryan High School education is the opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience while on campus. With the House System, even more leadership opportunities will be available to our Irish! Each house will have its own student-led “government,” and there will be ample time for peer-to-peer mentoring as well.
Father Ryan has a storied history built on a tradition of faith, knowledge, and service. We believe that the house system will only enrich and deepen this experience, while also providing students more opportunities to help build new traditions for each individual house.
Absolutely! Class-level camaraderie is an important part of high school. Students will still identify with their freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classmates. The Father Ryan House System just provides additional opportunities to get to know and learn from students in other grades. Placement in a house isn’t a replacement for one’s grade level – it’s a bonus! Within the house structure, students will be able to interact with a diverse cross-section of the student body.
A faculty/staff leader of a mentor group. This mentor leader role is designed to accompany a student throughout his/her four years at Father Ryan, providing a continuity of pastoral care and mentoring.