Size matters, so the saying goes, and sometimes, smaller is better. Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory High School is proud of its 13 to 1 student-teacher ratio. When your school has only about 500 students, everyone knows everyone.
“In our small setting, we are able to offer such a holistic program, for the heart, the mind, the body and the soul,” said Teresita Wardlow, principal of this Catholic school nestled into a Hollywood neighborhood.
The Lions have a lot of pride in their athletic teams and in their innovative academic programs.
“We teach like a boutique-style of education,” said Richard Pulido, the school’s Director of Advancement.
Chaminade offers a full range of AP classes, dual enrollment classes, and arts and music at various levels. Geometry teacher Jose Rivera has been particularly creative, having his students build geodesic domes to get a handle on geometric concepts in three dimensions, and he came up with an interest sing way for his students to remember the quadratic formula and slope formulas: rap them.
“I don't consider myself too much of a rapper,” said Rivera, as we watched his students rapping the formulas and obviously having a blast at the same time.
Rivera knows recall is easier if you can put a tune on something.
“I have students constantly rapping when they have to do a slope, they’re rapping on a quiz just to remember it,” Rivera says.
Chaminade-Madonna is also home to 34 students from China, immersing themselves in American culture.
“It's been great, like, kind of like beyond my expectation of it,” said Unico Li, one of the Chinese students, who is president of the school’s Multi-Cultural Club.
The learning goes both ways.
“We hear the international students telling us, what exciting opportunities they’re learning about America and we certainly hear from our American students what exciting things they’re learning about China,” said Pulido.
The school is almost paperless. Every student is given an iPad to use in class and at home. The principal’s mantra is technology is great, but nothing takes the place of personal contact.
“So at graduation, I'm very proud to say that when each student comes up I know them all, I know every single one of them and they know me,” said Principal Wardlow.
For her, it’s personal. She’s an alumnus of the school, and now has the pleasure of leading an entirely new generation with new concepts in education.