Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, all students attending Mater Dei Prep will have some exciting new academic options available to them.
Mater Dei Prep has created four programs – the Global Leaders Institute, Information Technology Institute, Performing Arts Institute and the Emergency Medical Services and Nursing Institute – designed to teach students the skills needed to excel in today’s diverse, technology-based fields.
All incoming freshmen will have the opportunity to experience each of the institutes by taking one course in every program. During sophomore year, students can choose to continue the course of study for a particular institute based on their educational and career goals.
While the Mater Dei Prep curriculum remains focused on giving every student a college preparatory, liberal arts education, with a core emphasis on science and humanities, “enhancing our curriculum with these institutes can only improve the quality of their education and our academic rigor,” said Donald Galante, President of Mater Dei Prep.
Each institute will consist of a progression of courses intended to give students a greater understanding of a field of study. All programs feature labs or lab-like working environments, allowing students to learn through hands-on participation. Some of the institutes offer professional certifications as part of the course of study.
The Global Leaders Institute, developed from a current MDP program, prepares students for success in global situations. Students learn communication, mediation and social skills, putting the skills into practice by partnering with the United Nations and other organizations. Students regularly attend and speak at UN conferences and committee meetings centered on promoting education, gender equality, clean energy, climate action and justice. Students in the institute can receive advanced certification in mediation, community building and leadership dynamics, and pursue internships with the UN and partner organizations.
“This program is designed to bring out the leader that lives in all of us and to provide students with the skills to become effective leaders into the 21st century,” said George S. Anthony, an accomplished educator and head of the Global Leaders Institute. Anthony currently serves as the primary representative for UN DPI/NGO Pathways to Peace.
Students interested in computer and technology careers will receive an in-depth education in computer programming and languages, networks and hardware, and cybersecurity and online safety through the Information Technology Institute, developing computing and technology skills that have real-world applications. All Mater Dei Prep freshmen will take Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles as an introduction to this program, giving them basic computer skills necessary in a digital world.
Mandy Galante, a renowned instructor in the cybersecurity field, developed the curriculum. “The current class of students are part of the first generation to lead digital lives,” she said. “The institute courses and competitions will give them the skills to excel in cutting-edge professions – and the know-how to protect themselves from the threats they can face in the digital age.”
All Mater Dei Prep freshmen will also complete their Emergency Medical Response certification through the Emergency Medical Services and Nursing Institute, learning critical lifesaving skills that will have long-term benefits for them and their community. Students interested in a career in the healthcare industry can complete additional courses and receive EMT certification.
"An Emergency Medical Responder education has lifelong value,” said Elaina Caldera, a Little Silver EMT and firefighter who, along with John Hansen, a firefighter and instructor at the Monmouth County Fire Academy, will head the institute. “The knowledge and skills acquired can and will be used in all aspects of life, whether it’s in a career in the medical field or used to provide medical care to family, friends and community in their time of need,” Caldera said.
Mater Dei Prep expands on its rich history of outstanding performing arts with the Performing Arts Institute, where students will nurture their artistic talent through courses in musical and dramatic theater, chorus, instrumental ensemble, piano, music theory and dance. Students will learn auditioning skills to help them when applying to collegiate programs or vying for professional roles.
Cindy J. Dwyer, the longtime director of Mater Dei Prep’s award-winning shows, will helm the Performing Arts Institute. “We’ve always had students at Mater Dei with great musical and artistic talent,” said Dwyer, who has taught several future performers and Broadway stars. “The institute will give our students more opportunities to expand their skills and experiences, and reach their potential as performers.”
Students in all the institutes will benefit from interaction with industry professionals to enhance the curriculum. Mr. Galante said he looks forward to these individuals sharing their life experiences with the students.
“Understanding technology and leadership techniques, and the self-esteem developed through performing, learning emergency provider skills and volunteering are invaluable parts of the education process,” said Galante. “The Mater Dei Prep institutes will provide a lasting impact on our students, preparing them for the next level of college and beyond.”