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CATS Innovation is an interdisciplinary program, which encourages students at CATS Academy Boston to follow their academic passions. Electives are chosen in focused areas of study within the disciplines of -  Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

The diverse choice of electives offered by the CATS Innovation Program will provide you with experience in entrepreneurship, social justice, technology, and environmental responsibility. You will explore these topics through interdisciplinary projects which will give you insights into areas of collegiate study while also learning the skills and developing the mindset necessary to become a self-starter. 

You will build your own CATS Innovation (CI) route of study by choosing electives that inspire you. The courses are designed to help you push the boundaries of accepted theory, and engage your interest in progressive fields of study.

Alongside the choice of innovative electives, you will have the chance to become involved in co-curricular clubs, which are goal-oriented and practice-based. You will meet with regional experts, visit businesses relevant to your course and attend lectures, workshops and conferences. Past CI co-curricular activities have included the Model UN, Youth Cities Boot Camp and DECA Challenges in leadership, creativity and entrepreneurship.

CATS Innovation electives

Performing Arts

Theatrical Production

In this year-long course, you will develop the skills necessary for all of the technical aspects of theater. This includes set design and construction, lighting design and operation, prop-making and design, sound, and stage management. You will apply your skills by being instrumental in the design and construction of the fall and spring productions. This is a project-based course, which will give you a greater understanding of the range of talents required to produce a theatrical production. You will see tangible and concrete results through the application of your work, use problem-solving skills and collaborate with the class and the performers on capstone shows for the CATS community.

Music

Business of Music

You will explore the backbone of the music industry during this one-semester course, learning about copyright law, band deals, and music promotion. You look at icons within the music industry and how artists rise to fame. The class utilizes social media to promote art and music to the student community and manages a Facebook page — CATS Café. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher. 

Music Technology & Production

You will learn to compose and produce music using the same programs as used within the music industry. From EDM, to jazz, to rock and roll, you will pick apart many different genres and learn how to recreate some of the greatest hits of all time. The class also teaches composition skills. Prior piano experience is a plus, as much of this class is based on playing the keyboard. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher. This is a year-long course.

Visual Arts

Digital Imaging/Internet Self-Marketing

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to digital art and self-promotion. You utilize computer programs from the Adobe Creative Suite such as Photoshop and Illustrator and class projects will include − photo manipulation, logo design, and webcomic creation. You learn valuable skills in drawing, composition, and design, as well as the importance these have on marketing and product advertising. Your work will be self-promoted through social media, web forums, and other internet outlets. This is a one-semester course offered over both semesters.

Visual Storytelling

You will create visual narratives accompanied by a written storyline. You will use traditional materials such as ink and pencil to develop images and have access to the Adobe Creative Suite for producing digital images for your narratives. You develop creative writing, digital design, composition, fine art drawing and painting skills while exploring the art of storytelling. Student works will be posted and viewed on social media. This is a one-semester course offered over both semesters. 

Advanced Fashion: Technology & Marketing

How do clothing companies design and market their products successfully? Can we create clothing that satisfies the needs of our own community? In order to address these two questions, you will learn how to use fashion design software, identify market needs, and develop and advertise your products to the school community. Products include a CATS Academy jacket, 3-D printed jewelry, and wearable electronics. The course includes a trip to the MIT Media Lab to see cutting-edge uses for technology in the sartorial world. Prerequisites: Previous fashion class or instructor approval. This is a one-semester course. 

Digital Film

In this one-semester course, you will learn basic film production skills, such as looking at how to develop a storyline, recording an event, or promoting an idea using the media of film. You will edit your films using the Adobe Creative Suite/ Final Cut Pro system.  Film students will work with the Acting for Film class on a collaborative project, producing a student acted, directed, shot and edited movie. The movie will be shared with the school community via social media. This will also provide you with material for your college portfolios.

Photography: Digital & Darkroom

On this one-semester course, you will learn basic skills in composition, design and light manipulation, which will be used to enhance your images. You will also learn the principles of digital photography by using the Adobe Creative Suite. Additionally, you will learn how to develop photos shot on film in a dark room. The course will culminate with a group student photography exhibit.

Computer-Aided Design

During this one-semester course, you will learn introductory CAD skills relevant to the drafting, designing and engineering process. You will also learn the basic concepts and processes followed by architectural and industrial design professionals. You will begin by designing a piece of furniture and go on to design virtual objects that will be printed on a 3D printer. You will be introduced to set design for theater and by the end of the class you will have all of the skills necessary to digitally design your 'dream house'.

English Literature

Economics in Literature

Economics in Literature uses basic economic concepts as a lens through which to view literature, and, to examine the impact of economics on our world. Through the study of contemporary texts, you will learn how economic concepts such as scarcity, competition, utility maximization, opportunity cost, creative destruction, and resource allocation impact individuals and society. You will exercise your creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills while gaining a broader understanding of the implications of global economic forces on human beings. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisites: ESL Level 4 or higher; B- or higher in previous English class.

Studies in Global Contemporary Literature

Studies in Global Contemporary Literature is modeled on a college-level approach to literature. It is an intensive course for students ready to broaden and deepen their reading. The chosen texts cover a range of topics and open windows into modern cultures all over the world. The course invites you to practice exploring, articulating, and supporting your insights into contemporary work, all while fostering the inherent joy in reading. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisites: ESL Level 4 or higher B- in previous English class.

Mathematics

Game Theory

Game theory utilizes both popular and more contrived games to provide a fun, engaging introduction to strategic decision-making. You will begin to understand the different roles that players can take and the behavior that constitutes the optimal strategy for playing these roles. During the course, you will gain an appreciation of how concepts can be applied, including − business, economics, political science, computer science, logic, biology, and philosophy. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; Algebra I; instructor approval.

Social Science

Contemporary Issues College Prep

This course gives you an introduction, to issues that are dominating the news throughout the year. The focus is on current events and related debates in the United States and around the world. By studying social, political, and economic issues, you will gain insight into their place in history and the relevance of today’s events to historical themes. In addition to raising your awareness of world history, the course develops your analytical, reading, writing, and speaking skills. The course is offered over one or two semesters. Prerequisite: one year of U.S. History Survey College Prep or Honors.

Introduction to Law College Prep

This course is an introduction to trial law and litigation in the United States. You will learn to make legal arguments for cases and argue them by public speaking. You also study examples of important case law. Introduction to Law is a chance to use evidence and make arguments based on precedent, and you are introduced to the court system in Massachusetts, the federal courts and different types of legal practice. This course will strengthen your analytical, writing, and public speaking skills. This is a one-semester course offered over both semesters. Prerequisite: one year of U.S. History Survey College Prep or Honors.

Introduction to Philosophy College Prep

This course looks at how philosophy’s place in history is a way for humans to understand themselves and the nature of reality. It looks at both Eastern and Western philosophical traditions. You will have the opportunity on the course to examine your own philosophy and goals. This is a course that will develop your powers of analysis as well as your reading, writing, and speaking skills. This is a one-semester course offered over two semesters. Prerequisite: one year of U.S. History Survey College Prep or Honors.

Macroeconomics College Prep

This one-semester Social Science elective (fall only) is paired with one semester of Microeconomics College Prep to make a one-year college prep course in Economics. The courses are part of the CATS Innovation Program. In Macroeconomics College Prep you will learn how economic decisions are made at a national and international level. You will examine economic systems around the world and economic policy-making in the United States. You will learn about markets, industries, trade, banking, finance, economic indicators, economic policy, and the Federal Reserve. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisite: ESL Level 3 or higher; grades 11 and 12.

Technology

Computer-Aided Drafting

This course equips you with basic computer-aided drafting skills using AutoCAD software, allowing you to model both 2D and 3D mechanical parts. Major projects in the course include the redesign of an object of your choice in order to make it more ergonomic and cost-effective. You will use 3D printers in the CATS Innovation Lab to make your designs come to life. Upon completion of the course, you will have learned how to analyze real-world objects from an engineering perspective and develop workable blueprints for manufacturers to produce simple parts.This is a one-semester course. Prerequisite: ESL Level 2 or higher.

Introduction to Front End Web Development

In this course, you will gain an introduction to the fundamental programming languages of the internet: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You will learn the basic principles and programming language syntax required to produce a static webpage, and then create a variety of webpages from scratch to practice. Upon successful completion of this course, you will have a firm foundation in the primary languages of front-end web development, a fast-growing career field that is predicted to grow by 27% between 2016 and 2024 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This is a one-semester course. Prerequisite: ESL Level 3 or higher.

Open Source Engineering

This course introduces you to the world of open source engineering, developing your love of technology and design, as well as improving your problem-solving skills. The lessons and activities use Arduino, an internationally popular open-source software and hardware ecosystem. The course starts with case studies of engineering solutions to real-world problems and then moves on to more complex projects such as monitoring and controlling devices using software, sensors, and actuators. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 completed or currently enrolled in Algebra 2. One of the following: completed Robotics, Computer Science, or currently enrolled in Physics, or permission of the instructor.

Robotics

This class introduces you to the exciting world of robots. You learn to identify what a robot is and what it is not. Through hands-on design and construction work, you will explore how robots are constructed, how they operate, and what their limitations are. The class benefits from lectures by experts in the field of robotics and exposes you to the commercial uses of robots as well as future trends. There are field trips to local robotics companies as well as to robotics events and competitions. There are individual as well as team-based projects for students to test their ideas and compete with each other as well as with outside teams. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisites: ESL Level 2 or higher; instructor approval.

Science

Biotechnology

This course utilizes lecture, discussion, and project-based work. You will investigate and learn about using biological systems to produce goods, technologies and innovations that help medicine and society deal with living organisms. Specific topics include DNA techniques, utilization of proteins and enzymes, genetic manipulation, and the impact on the industry that these innovations provide. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; instructor approval.

Environmental Science College Prep

The goal of the Environmental Science course is to provide you with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. You focus and work towards identifying and analyzing environmental problems. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course approaches themes including − energy conversions; earth as one interconnected system; human alterations of natural systems; environmental problems framed in a cultural and social context; and the development of practices aimed at achieving sustainable systems. This is a one-semester course. Prerequisites: Returning students: Recommendation of previous instructor. New students: placement test.

Big Data

This elective CATS Innovation course introduces you to the idea of Big Data – a phrase used to collectively refer to large datasets made possible only recently due to the advent of digital tools such as smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. These digital tools allow us to quantitatively analyze human behavior on an unprecedented scale. The course includes an introductory survey of the results of big data analysis along the lines of key findings and informative visualizations, as well as introductory exercises for doing the analysis. Prerequisites: ESL Level 3 or higher; B or higher in ESL Level 2 and math from previous year; Algebra II; science placement test.

Cats Innovation 

Professional Communications

This one-semester course helps you develop your presentation skills. You will have opportunities to practice presenting to peers and school audiences of all sizes. You will analyze reports and other sources of information and learn ways to portray relevant information, both visually and verbally. In addition, the course will teach you cross-cultural communication techniques, which are critical skills to have in our global community and the workplace. This course helps you to develop confidence, poise, and find your own style of communication when giving a presentation. Prerequisite – ESL Level 3 or higher.

Financial Management

This one-semester course is about decision-making, which prepares you to understand the major aspects of money and how it flows end-to-end; from its sources, as to how it cycles through the economy. Key concepts covered include – the meaning of money, gold versus other standards, bitcoin, exchange rates, stock markets, technical analysis, loans, credit, paper, electronic transactions, and banking. A large component of the course focuses on the stock market and utilizes the CATS Academy Finance Lab with state-of-the-art trading and simulation tools. Mathematical concepts such as interest rates, inflation, economic indicators, as well as basic monetary numeracy and accounting will be introduced. Prerequisite: ESL Level 3 or higher.

Faculty

Jeff Napior
Director of CATS Innovation,
Chair of Technology Department &
Math Teacher
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Jeff Napior

Director of CATS Innovation,
Chair of Technology Department &
Math Teacher

BS, Aerospace Engineering, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
MS, Aeronautical Science, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Jeff Napior runs the CATS Innovation Lab where students benefit from a 'design-make-use' philosophy. This approach leverages open-ended exploration and tacit learning, therefore helping students complete projects typically related to the STEAM disciplines. Jeff worked for fifteen years as an aerospace engineer. He has hands-on experience with the electrical integration of flight vehicles ranging from fighter jets to orbital-class rockets. He has professionally trained US Navy aircraft technicians, tutored high school students and provided post-GED math lessons to incarcerated persons. Jeff is a huge sci-fi fan and an avid reader

David O'Donnell
Social Science Department Chair
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David O'Donnell

Social Science Department Chair

BA, History, Boston College
MA, Modern History, Oxford University
Higher Diploma in Education from Trinity College Dublin

David O’Donnell is dedicated to helping each student prepare for university. He supports entrepreneurship and learning outside the classroom, serving as advisor to the CATS DECA club for business, and the CATS Scholars Program for outstanding students. David came to CATS Academy after three years in China as an exchange teacher and education consultant; he has ten years’ experience teaching at US high schools and 13 years’ experience as a stock market researcher. David says “Students at CATS Academy Boston have a real warmth and generosity with each other. Teachers are committed to challenging and supporting students.” A graduate of Noble and Greenough School, David received his BA in History from Boston College, Massachusetts, an MA in Modern History from Oxford University and a Higher Diploma in Education from Trinity College Dublin.

Joel Tenenbaum
Science Department Chair,
Physics & Math Teacher
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Joel Tenenbaum

Science Department Chair,
Physics & Math Teacher

BA, Mathematics & Physics, Goucher College
MAPhD, Boston University
MA, Teaching Licensure in Mathematics & Physics with Shelter English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement

Joel has over 11 years’ of experience in teaching physics, chemistry and statistics. After completing his doctoral thesis, he taught at Boston University's Questrom School of Business on the MBA program. He also acted as mentor for BUILD Boston, helping inner-city students become college-eligible. He has coached Math Club at CATS for three years, with nine students winning awards and some leading to scholarships at nationally ranked universities. He leads Research Club, at CATS, engaging students in a hands-on scientific environment. The project is guided by meetings with Harvard Medical School and culminates in a trip to New York as part of the NetSci High Program.

Adrienne Jacobson
Fashion Design
& Art History Teacher
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Adrienne Jacobson

Fashion Design
& Art History Teacher

BA, Wellesley College
MA, Boston University

Adrienne has a Master's degree in art history from Boston University, and studied studio art and art history at Wellesley College. She first learned to sew from her mother, a professional costume designer, and enjoys making clothing and knitting for friends and family. She has worked as a curatorial assistant at private and corporate collections in the Boston area, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Danforth Museum in Framingham and the Davis Museum at Wellesley College.

Alex Walecka
History Teacher
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Alex Walecka

History Teacher

BA, History, Endicott College
MA, History, Providence College

Alex Walecka from Dartmouth, Massachusetts graduated from Endicott College in 2015, with a BA in History. Upon his graduation, he joined the Providence College ESE and Secondary Education Department, conducting research on the latest educational trends and pedagogies, as a graduate research assistant. While at Providence College, Alex completed his Master of Arts in History in 2016, with a primary focus on American history . Alex looks forward to utilizing his passion for history, experiential learning and ESL teaching methods at CATS Academy. In addition, Alex, as a former collegiate cross country runner is eager to get started coaching the cross country team during the 2017 − 2018 season.

Nate Punches
Theater Director
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Nate Punches

Theater Director

MA, Theater Education, Emerson College

Nathaniel oversees the Drama program at CATS. He trains students how to effectively use their voices, bodies, and imaginations both on and off stage. This aids in the development of their inner voices and self confidence. Prior to joining the faculty at CATS academy, Nathaniel worked as a freelance teacher/technician/designer/director/actor in the greater Boston area. He served as the resident set designer for Stage 284 and directed programs for Boston Children's Theater. Before that, Nathaniel worked as the Technical Director for Actor's Shakespeare Project and The Barnstormer's Theater. Last year he filled in as the interim Theater Director for Brimmer and May School. Nathaniel received his Master's in Theater Education from Emerson College.

Kent Archer
Fine Art Teacher
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Kent Archer

Fine Art Teacher

BFA, School of Visual Arts, New York

Kent Archer brings to CATS his experience as a working arts professional alongside his passion for teaching. He teaches the fundamentals of art and helps students build portfolios for college admission. Kent has taught art courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Sacred Heart High School in Kingston Massachusetts and numerous local art centers. Kent has worked professionally in the field of comic books since 2005 when he co-launched the popular webcomic − Dr McNinja. His work has been published by Archie Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, and Topps Trading Cards. Kent attended the received his BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts.

Skip Lewan
Music Teacher
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Skip Lewan

Music Teacher

Bio needed

Justin De Santis
Math Teacher
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Justin De Santis

Math Teacher

Justin De Santis is a Math teacher, specializing in discrete mathematics, proof writing and game theory. He is also the coach of the CATS Boston Ultimate Frisbee team. Originally from New York, Justin is entering his fourth year at CATS Academy. Prior to joining CATS Justin spent five years living in Maine working as a high school math teacher, math team advisor, and tennis coach at Lee Academy. When not delivering inspiring math classes Justin can be found on campus enjoying a meal in the dining hall, or tossing an Ultimate disc next to the soccer field. “As a math enthusiast, I feel so fortunate to be a part of the incredibly passionate and dedicated faculty here at CATS. I could not be more grateful to be given this opportunity to impart the wisdom of a subject I love to those who will sculpt the future of our world."

Leila Bradley
Biology Teacher
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Leila Bradley

Biology Teacher

PhD, Developmental Neurobiology, National Institute for Medical Research

Leila Bradley provides instruction in the Biological sciences from College Preparatory through to Advanced Placement as well as teaching highly topical electives such as Genetics and Biotechnology. Prior to joining CATS Academy, Leila taught at the Newman School in Boston. Leila received her PhD in Developmental Neurobiology at the National Institute for Medical Research and performed her postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute, MIT. Her academic research culminated in a faculty position at University College London Medical School in 2001.