Curriculum & Educational Philosophy

Project and Place Based Learning

The San Miguel Academy Project and Place-Based Learning Program is an interactive STEAM-focused approach that facilitates inquiry and investigation.  STEAM is incorporated into cross-curricular hands-on projects in which students are continually developing problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills.  Inside and out of the classroom, our Project and Place-Based Learning Program (PBL2) engages students in learning that nurtures their natural curiosities. By incorporating a wide range of learning modalities into the curriculum, the result is stronger links between formal content, understanding, and, ultimately, higher retention rates. Partnerships with many Hudson Valley educational sites is a key component of the curriculum. 

The Project and Place-Based Learning Program was developed by San Miguel Academy staff. It is a unique program compared to other middle school programs and has been recognized worldwide for its effectiveness and innovation. San Miguel Academy staff have presented various aspects of the program at international conferences in South Africa and Canada as well as regional conferences throughout the United States.

As we prepare our students for success in high school, college, and other post-secondary options, it’s clear that a strong foundation in STEAM provides them with critical proficiencies for future academic and career endeavors.

STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics

In 2022, San Miguel Academy dedicated the Sister Agnes Boyle Steam Learning Center, which was the first major renovation since purchasing the building in 2020. STEAM programming is incorporated into cross-curricular hands-on projects in which students are continually developing problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills. STEAM activities include Computer-Aided Design (CAD), laser cutting, 3D printing and fabrication techniques, coding literacy, circuitry literacy, and Design Thinking.  In addition, San Miguel Academy is launching a unique program using STEMPilot to teach engineering, science, physics, and math in aviation.

STEAM has long been intertwined throughout the curriculum at San Miguel Academy. Teachers in all subject areas focus on using design thinking strategies and methods in their project assignments.  The STEAM Learning Center is the hallmark of our program, availing our students of the best in curriculum design. The development of career-ready skills for the 21st-century market place is at the core of our STEAM program.


The Math program used at SMA is ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces), a Web-based artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics he is most ready to learn. Students move at their own individual pace through the course and are reassessed to ensure retention of material.


Literacy is the key to communication, careers and success. In order to provide our students optimal opportunity in literacy, we use an online reading program called LightSail. LightSail is an intensive reading program that measures student lexile growth, combining books with in-text assessments that are personalized to the student, which measures their literacy gain. During the 2019-2020 academic year, students in the SMA program surpassed the LightSail national average for their age group. Students use this platform during the school year as well as during summer program. Last year SMA placed second in two national reading competitions that were hosted by LightSail.

With Gratitude to Our Education Partners

PBL2/ STEAM, along with ALEKS, Lightsail and all of our EDUCATION PARTNERS contribute to early childhood education interventions for the underserved students of Newburgh. These interventions serve the “whole child”; helping to combat poverty, support students through emotional traumas and help families to better support their children academically and emotionally

  • Mohonk Preserve
  • Storm King Arts Center
  • Stony Kill Foundation
  • Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties
  • Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative
  • Malcolm Pray Achievement Center
  • Marblehead Farm
  • Focal Point Project
  • Touro College of Medicine
  • Catholic Charities of Orange and Sullivan
  • Constitution Marsh
  • Orange County Rowing Association
  • Marist College Campus Ministry
  • Saint Philip’s Church
  • Rabbi Erwin Zimet Memorial Institute
  • USMA at West Point (Campus Ministry and Knights of Columbus)
  • Seton Hall University
  • Divine Sparks