When looking for a new way to educate its students, St. Agatha Academy has decided to look to the past.
The school plans to change its curriculum in the fall of this year to a classical style, making the Catholic facility the only such school in central Kentucky.
“This is not your common curriculum,” Principal John Pica said. “We want it to be a unique offering. We’re looking to be very distinctive and to distinguish ourselves.”
The classical curriculum will teach subjects bound together by the narrative of history. It removes the isolation of how subjects are taught in today’s modern education system, Pica said. This curriculum will be rooted in the Trivium — grammar, logic and rhetoric.
“We felt this was going to be important because we saw how the national core standards were returning back to some of these classical concepts,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks homeschooling who use the classical mold. We find it to be a richer experience. It gets back to the concept of liberal arts and the concepts between disciplines. That’s lost in the common format.”
St. Agatha, a K-8 school with 145 students that has been open since 1919, will break the curriculum into three stages. The grammar stage for kindergarten through fifth grade will immerse students into a different historical period for each year. They will also be introduced to English and Latin.
Latin is the foundation of all Romance languages and can be a gateway to mastering other languages as well as a tool for learning the mechanics of English. The newly adopted national standards for language arts recommends students be introduced to Latin and Greek. Pica said the school will not use Greek but teachers are already learning Latin to prepare for the upcoming school year.
“The faculty are supportive,” Pica said. “They love (the change).¿They find it to be liberating. This is very teacher friendly, as far as being able to refer to original sources. It’s a methodology they are very much looking forward to.”
The logic stage will follow for sixth graders and seventh graders. This will concentrate on fallacies, assumptions and classical ethics.
Eighth graders will experience the rhetoric stage, where they will apply the information and critical thinking skills they have gained.
Pica and Father Frank Brawner decided to implement the change while discussing the school’s curriculum. The school’s science and math programs will remain unchanged, for now.
“Our math is very strong; our science is very strong,” Pica said. “History, religion, things like that will see the difference. We’re not changing our strong math and science programs. This is something that is going to evolve. There are ways to bring in classical learning when teaching math and science. It’s an exciting initiative in that regard.”
St. Agatha’s open enrollment for new students begins Monday. Prospective families are invited to attend a presentation about classical education and the evolution of the Trivium at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the St. Agatha gym. The school can also be reached at 744-6484 and more information can be found at stagathaacademy.cdlex.org.
Contact Casey Castle at email@example.com.