How do we prepare students to use technology safely, responsibly, critically, and productively to positively contribute to society?
Learn about the strategies St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School uses to help your student benefit from instant access to unlimited information in our connected world, successfully navigating the new opportunities, and challenges, of our global society.
Questions? For further information, please contact:
Richard Rho, Upper School Technology Education Grades 9-12, Technology Education Department Chair David Hunsicker, Middle School Technology Education Grades 6-8 Keri Gritt, Lower School Technology Education Grades JK-5
At the Lower School (grades JK-5), we recommend that parents keep the three C’s in mind:
1. Keep Current 2. Keep Communicating 3. Keep Checking
Keep Current You do not have to be a computer expert, but understanding a little goes a long way toward keeping your child safe online. Keep current and learn about new technologies as they are released.
Keep Communicating Keep the lines of communication open with your children about things they are seeing on the Internet. Know their lingo i.e. “lol” (laughing out loud) and ask when you do not understand something. Children like to know that they are teaching you about something new.
Keep Checking Know when your children are going online and where they are going to. Let them know you will continue checking in on them.
Like any other tool, the Internet can be misused or dangerous in certain circumstances. Students must learn how to use the Internet safely and effectively. At our school, students begin our Internet safety education program in junior kindergarten. Students continue to receive grade appropriate education every year.
At the lower school, students are carefully exposed to the Internet with teacher supervision. Here the students can explore the Internet in a safe environment while discovering the many wonderful things it can offer.
Educating students about Internet Safety continues on throughout Middle School, where technology education lessons are integrated throughout the curriculum at every grade level.
In sixth grade, students complete and discuss a cyber bullying survey as a springboard to delve more deeply into effective conflict resolution strategies. We talk about Facebook and other social media, and the risks involved in putting pictures as well as any personal information on those sites. During sixth grade religion classes, the middle school technology curriculum integration program facilitates open discussions about how to avoid inappropriate material on the Internet.
During seventh grade history classes, the middle school technology curriculum integration program facilitates open discussions about safeguarding personal information, particularly in the context of social networking. In library learning sessions, students discuss and evaluate Internet content with the goal of enabling students to filter or discriminate between sites with educational value and other sites with less valid information.
During eighth grade religion classes students participate in a role play activity and open discussions about using text messaging appropriately. The value of text messaging as a tool for communicating factual information vs. social or emotional information is evaluated. Also in eighth grade, students complete a different version of the cyber bullying survey. They discuss practices to reduce the risk of personal harm, future negative consequences, and examples of misuse regarding Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Human sexuality education classes talk about meeting people on line (a teen version of cyber dating) including the reasons teens may be drawn to meet other teens on line, the risks, and ways to reduce risk of harm.
Online safety on the Upper School campus brings forth different ideas and issues to both faculty and students. For students, this means having a global understanding of what can happen with the slightest amount of carelessness with regard to using web 2.0 tools and settings within social networking sites. For faculty this means previewing and exploring materials farther in advance than ever before to avoid using sites which may have had recent name changes or may have pop ads. But with the proper precautions around campus we can ensure students are not a victim of their own technological proficiency.
Recently, our school hosted Ms. Katie Donovan, Community Outreach Coordinator of Netsmartz. Ms. Donovan spoke on the dangers of the Internet and advocated safe use by giving examples of cases relating to predators. Her presentation continued by reminding everyone that everything you post online is viewable by both people you know and people you don’t know, and reminded us not to post pictures which give more information than necessary. “Something as simple as not posting a picture in your athletic uniform can be the difference between letting the world know where you live and go to school, and not.” Ms. Katie Donovan, Community Outreach Coordinator, Netsmartz.org
Additionally, Ms. Donovan explained that predators can often work to form a relationship over a period of time with both young girls and young boys so never chatting with someone unknown is the best way of avoiding dangerous scenarios because often people pretend to be an age they are not.
Creating a Safe Haven
The Internet's ability to connect us, however, does have its academic and social benefits. To best foster appropriate use on all of our campuses, several precautions are in place. In the beginning of the year, the students sign an acceptable use policy which regulates how the Internet may be used while on campus. The school has invested in, and continues to maintain a robust content filtering system which blocks an amazing number of sites with material that would be harmful to students. And finally, faculty and administrators model the proper use of all technological materials, and the associated etiquette often known as netiquette, so students have a positive set of practices associated with online behavior.
St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School is an independent, college-preparatory, coed, day, Episcopal Church School that educates students in junior kindergarten through grade 12. The school consists of three, age-appropriate campuses (Lower, Middle, and Upper School) in Alexandria, Virginia. SSSAS welcomes families of all faiths. We offer challenging academics, a state-of-the-art performing arts center, and championship athletics. SSSAS is regarded as one of the top private schools in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area.
Grades: JK-5 400 Fontaine Street Alexandria, Virginia 22302
Grades: 6-8 4401 West Braddock Road Alexandria, Virginia 22304
Grades: 9-12 1000 St. Stephen's Road Alexandria, Virginia 22304