La Reina:

Protecting Girls in a Tech-Saturated World

For the past 6 decades, La Reina has stood as the leading institution for young women in Ventura County. As a Catholic school, we recognize the importance of spirituality in education and the faith life of each of our students. The Catholic faith permeates all aspects of the educational experience, shaping the curriculum, teaching methods and values integrated into the learning progress. 

The story of La Reina traces back to 1964, but its educational vision is rooted in its origins much earlier. The Sisters of Notre Dame, who laid the foundation for the beloved La Reina we know today, emerged during the tumultuous era of the French Revolution. Their Spiritual Mother, Sister Julie Billiart, harnessed her faith and used her voice and compassion to challenge the times and fight for the education of children.

At La Reina, our foremost objective is to educate each individual student. Guided by our Christian anthropology, we firmly believe that every student possesses the potential to positively impact the world. We have built our school guided by the principle that quality and the individual count.

The curriculum at La Reina reflects a profound integration of the Catholic worldview. Whether it is our innovative robotics program or our Humanities Department grounded in classical principles, we ensure that our students are exposed to a perspective that upholds the acceptance and respect for every human being, recognizing their inherent value and rightful place in society. 

Encouraging parental participation in the school’s mission and life is a hallmark of Catholic education and the La Reina experience. With this teamwork in place, La Reina has restructured its approach to technology integration and continues to make enhancements to learning. Through a thoughtful and purposeful approach that emphasizes that students should first grasp the essence of their humanity within a broader context before engaging with online learning platforms and social media, changes were made to the ways students interact with and use technology.

In the 2022-23 school year, we set additional parameters in the 6th grade around students' access to their academic and personal devices. School-issued iPads were available solely for academic purposes with teacher guidance and then placed at an onsite charging station, supported by new studies that prove even when a device is nearby, albeit not in a student’s hands, the device will continue to occupy the child’s thoughts and distract from learning. The positive effect that this adjustment had on our youngest students encouraged our decision to keep all academic devices for Grades 6-8 on campus during the upcoming school year. All school-issued devices will now remain on campus after school hours and during vacation periods, allowing students to fully engage with their families and outside activities. 

Acknowledging current research and parent/student feedback around the deleterious impact technology has on students’ social and emotional health, La Reina is also increasing limitations around personal devices for middle school students during lunchtime using a system of positive incentives. This past school year, students were motivated by a reward system for voluntarily placing their phones in a safe location during lunch. At the end of each month, the team of students with the most tokens enjoyed a pizza party with their peers. 

Additionally, the lunch period was expanded to help foster friendships with classmates and the pursuit of healthy and fun activities was encouraged. Wellness stations were established that offered girls the opportunity to quietly read or draw, play ping pong and other games or have fun in a staffed art room. 

Initially, middle school students reluctantly placed their phones in the basket at lunch. After 6 weeks, they began tossing their phones in to run off to play and socialize with friends. Parents report that their daughters are happier and more carefree, and faculty members have observed a significant increase in engagement in the classroom as well as positive behaviors. This is but one example of the thoughtful changes made to the way students interact with technology.

Continuing to lead the way in education, La Reina is introducing a new year-long freshmen course requirement in the 2023-24 academic year focusing on logic, rhetoric and the ethics of technology. Through this class, we aim to instill in our students a genuine appreciation for their human nature, equip them with an ethical framework to navigate the complexities of technology and prepare them for the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world.  

These pioneering classes and other efforts to improve our students’ lives and futures through safe, effective and ethical integration of technology is one more way that La Reina lives its commitment as a Catholic school that nurtures students in mind, body, and spirit. 

Building relationships with parents based on trust is pivotal to successfully addressing issues like the safe, effective and ethical integration of technology in learning. Trust is actively fostered by teachers and administrators alike, who listen to parents and offer opportunities for dialogue. Increasingly, new parents to La Reina credit our deep commitment to family partnership in their decision to enroll their daughter.

We are pleased to invite the Ventura County community to join us for La Reina’s 2023-2024 Parent Education Series. Throughout the year, these evening workshops will be focused on vital topics such as the impact on children of growing up in a technology saturated world. Please visit La Reina’s website at LaReina.com to stay informed of upcoming opportunities.

La Reina warmly welcomes transfer students and is currently accepting applications for the 2023-24 school year on a limited basis.

For more information, please visit LaReina.com or email Director of Admissions Renee Biezins at rbiezins@lareina.com.

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