Key Classical Curriculum Questions and Answers
Is a classical education going to prepare my student for high school and college?
Classical education students are not only excelling academically but are proving to be leaders among their peers in traditional public and Catholic high schools. Their classical learning experiences not only allow them to apply key knowledge and skills but to also see above and beyond the practical to deeper meaning, connections, and values.
Does a classical education provide a strong education in science and math?
While the organization of a classical curriculum is grounded in a strong formation in language, with a corresponding development of thinking, understanding, and judging (see page 5 – 8 of the Educational Plan), Science and Mathematics are key areas of study from the very beginnings of western thought and learning. A classical Kindergarten through 8th grade education prepares students to be entirely fluent in the Earth, Life and Physical Sciences as well as being provided a solid foundation in the Algebra in preparation for the possibility of pursuing these tracks in high school—both completed in a classical education with an appreciation of the divine intelligence revealed in both the sciences and mathematics.
Does a classical education take assessments and issue grades?
A classical education understands assessment as essential to the human person. We naturally differentiate between and seek to achieve improvement from the good, the better and the best. Classical education incorporates assessment as an ongoing instructional activity that allows learning to advance, clarifying goals, and helping students to become self-assessors and welcome feedback as a means of independent learning and improvement. Within a culture recognizing the supreme dignity of every human person no matter their varying gifts, a child is guided by being given feedback in the form of graded activities, assignments, projects, and tests with quarterly report cards. All St. Thomas students will take the NWEA test in the fall, winter and spring with these results being used to monitor student learning progress.
What is the status of the St. Thomas Little Saints Preschool?
The St. Thomas Preschool team lead by Mrs. Gruetzmacher, along with Mrs. Dallas, Mrs. Ortiz and Mrs. Simpson will continue serving our three, four and five-year-old preschool students in their respective classrooms next school year. The St. Thomas preschool team employs many pedagogical strategies that capture the classical approach to engaging both the mind, imagination, and heart of a child.
Why were our current teachers not chosen for the classical positions?
As required by financial constraints, the nine single grade classroom teaching positions were combined into five combined grade Kindergarten, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8 classical educator positions. All current faculty were invited to express their interest in becoming a classical educator and filling the new classical educator positions. Those who seek a position will be consulted with to make a hiring decision.
How will openings be filled if all positions are not filled by current teachers?
The opening will be filled by posting classical educator positions, receiving applications, and interviewing selected applicants. A hiring team comprised of Fr. Bill, Principal Tim DiLaura, St. Thomas parent Mike Hanley and FGR President John DeJak. We will seek to fill any openings by June 1st.
Does a teacher need to be certified to be hired?
Having a teacher certification is a key qualification for hiring. However, the Diocese of Lansing allows the hiring of a candidate who has a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a subject area of study (e.g. history, English, science, etc.), has relevant experience in working with students, demonstrates the key attributes of a successful teacher (relational capacity, organization, communication skills, etc.) and is enrolled in a teacher certification program.
Do teacher applicants need to be Catholic to be hired?
The Diocese of Lansing requires all Catholic school teachers to be practicing Catholics. Shared time specials teachers, in working formally for a public school district, do not.
How does a teacher effectively teach a combined grade classroom?
Please see this page for more information on the combined classroom pedagogy.
How will teachers be trained to teach classically?
Teachers will begin their ongoing formation in classical pedagogy with three training experiences over the summer. They will attend the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education Conference in Washington, D.C. in July, participate in the Classical Academic Press online ClassicalU professional development series, in August, Mrs. Mary Pat Donoghue will be spending two days with our faculty with onsite pedagogical and curricular professional development.
What is our music program going to be?
Choral, string, and wind with percussion instrument specials will be provided. The St. Thomas Choir, String Ensemble, and Band will perform in Christmas and spring concerts. A longer-term goal will be to blend the string, wind and percussion instruments in a combined orchestral setting. A jazz band could continue if students were interested in playing their wind instrument in both the orchestra and jazz band (dual wind instrument students could also play saxophone in a jazz band.)
What is our athletics program going to be?
Physical wellness and activity are key to a child’s education and competitive sports is an important opportunity to develop skill, teamwork, and leadership. St. Thomas will offer a minimum of one sport per gender per season. Fall: Boys & Girls Soccer / Boys & Girls Cross Country / Girls Volleyball (two of the three based on student interest), Winter: Boys Basketball / Girls Basketball (JV or varsity based on interest), Spring: Boys and Girls Track
Is our dress code changing?
The St. Thomas Dress Code Policy will remain in its current form for the 2018-2019 school year.