Our Pioneering Model

In 2011, Seton recognized the opportunity to harness the power of technology to transform struggling inner-city Catholic schools into economically viable, academically outstanding and character building schools. In San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Academy, we launched the nation’s first robust blended learning Catholic school, and an initiative that would help Catholic schools serving our country’s neediest children emerge as leaders in education innovation. In only one year, Mission Dolores boosted enrollment and the academic achievement of its primarily low-income and minority students, all while putting the school on a path to financial stability. Watch this video of the first year at Mission Dolores.

With over 4,000 urban Catholic school seats disappearing each year, Seton has since expanded our Blended Learning Initiative to serve over 3,000 students in seven cities, 98% of whom are minorities and two-thirds of whom qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. Seton partners with independent Catholic schools, traditional parochial schools, and Archdiocesan offices to convert, manage, and provide models of quality blended learning to accelerate this work across the country. Our model helps Catholic schools provide a mixture of small-group instruction and personalized, differentiated, learning that helps teachers meet the individual needs of their students.

The Seton Difference

Blended learning is a model that is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. However, in order to harness its benefits a school needs to have specialized knowledge around devices, technical infrastructure, content selection, professional development, and best practices. Developing this expertise takes either lots of time—both in research and lived experience—or expert human capital.

Unfortunately, many urban Catholic schools lack the human capital, fundraising bandwidth, and time required to successfully implement blended learning on their own. Despite great intentions, many schools that go it alone don’t succeed in doing what blended learning is best equipped to do—fundamentally change the way learning happens in a traditional classroom. That’s why Seton is the most sought-after blended learning partner for Catholic schools in the country. At Seton, we pride ourselves on high-quality implementation by assisting partner schools with the five areas that can make or break a blended learning program:

  1. Infrastructure and Content: We make sure every partner school has the proper devices, content, and infrastructure so that teachers and students experience minimal interruptions and can focus on learning.
  2. Support: We identify, select, and train a full-time blended learning manager (always someone who’s had success with underserved children as a teacher) to work at each of our partner schools for at least one year (and often longer, depending on the size of the school and the number of new students the school will serve when it goes blended).
  3. Procedures: We ensure that children are trained in every little routine—from what to do when they get stuck or have a tech issue, to how to do a 30-second rotation so that no learning time is lost and devices remain intact.
  4. Professional Development: We expose teachers to best practices from other network members while simultaneously helping them make the data they receive actionable during small-group instruction.
  5. Non-Cognitive Skills: We pay close attention to the non-tech aspects of great learning—especially relationships and motivation—so that we can enhance the very things that have traditionally made Catholic schools great.

Goals of Our Blended Model

In all of our blended learning schools, Seton has two overarching goals:

  1. Improve and increase student achievement through small group, individualized, and data driven instruction.
  2. Reduce per pupil operating costs and improve operational efficiency by increasing enrollment and class size without increasing the number of teachers.

We achieve these goals by providing expertise, fundraising assistance, nationwide collaboration, and training. Some examples of Seton’s services include:

  • A fully trained full-time staff member to manage implementation and train teachers on blended learning best practices
    • Example: How can I use X program to achieve Y results?
  • Training on the logistics of blended learning
    • Example: How do you set up a blended classroom? What devices and content should you buy? How should those devices behave in order to maximize instructional time?
  • Training on data-driven instruction
  • Observations and instructional coaching for teachers
  • Staying on top of a rapidly changing field for our partner schools
  • Best practices for building a robust Catholic school culture
  • Access to a nationwide, collaborative network of urban Catholic blended learning schools