FALL RIVER — Building on strengths of two long-established, successful institutions, the Fall River Diocesan Central Catholic Schools Board has voted to create a new Preparatory Academy providing an improved curriculum to students at affiliate schools Coyle and Cassidy in Taunton and Bishop Connolly in Fall River in their home high schools.

The new Academy, approved Thursday (Feb. 15, 2019) by the Central Catholic Schools Board, will implement a personalized learning model that addresses the needs of diverse student populations, according to Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Steve Perla. Coyle and Cassidy High School and the Middle School are in the second year of implementing a personalized and blended learning model of instruction, which would be expanded to include Bishop Connolly students. It is a data-driven approach on which the Coyle and Cassidy educational team has been extensively trained by a leading expert, and which uses integrated technology, resulting in significantly higher levels of student achievement.

The Academy grows out of Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha’s initiative, “Rebuilding in Faith and Hope!” Included in the improved curriculum will be the introduction of an innovative STEM education program. STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is a progressive data-driven way to teach research skills, an underserved educational focus in Southeastern Massachusetts. More importantly, the STEM focus will pave the way for our graduates, young women and young men, to be extraordinarily well prepared for their futures, throughout their higher education and careers.

Bishop da Cunha said, “The introduction of STEM education environments into our Diocese, which is happening in Catholic schools across the country, means providing the knowledge and skill set for our graduates to change the world for the better by helping to solve many of the problems facing our world.”

Coyle and Cassidy President Bernard Audette, Ed.D., has achieved great success with a STEM program at a Catholic School in Worcester that became the third school in the state and the first Catholic school in Massachusetts to be accepted as a member of the National Consortium of Secondary STEM. A learning approach that results in higher levels of academic achievement,  STEM builds critical thinking, problem-solving and communications skills resulting from students learning to work collaboratively, applying knowledge and skills in an interdisciplinary way to real-world problems.

Central Catholic Schools Board President Roger Sullivan said, “This is an exciting time for our educational community. This new Academy will improve the entire school experience for Catholic secondary education in Taunton and Fall River, including the sharing of talent, building professional learning communities and joining forces to create robust co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for students.”

Perla explained that Kathy St. Laurent would become the Principal and Instructional Leader for the Academy. Bernie Audette would remain as the President for Coyle & Cassidy and Chris Myron would remain as the President for Bishop Connolly.

Perla said, “The Academy, which will allow both schools to maintain their individual identities while working together in important ways, providing families living along the Route 24 corridor with an exceptional school choice at two campuses in Southeastern Massachusetts.”


Diocese of Fall River
Catholic Schools Alliance
423 Highland Avenue
Fall River, MA 02720

Diocese of Fall River
Diocese of Fall River
Office of Communications