Catholic Liberals Arts Education

Q. What is our mission at St. Monica Catholic School and the ultimate mission of Catholic education?

A. To assist in developing the whole child so that they may realize their full potential, fulfill their God-given purpose, and flourish in a Christ-centered, rigorous learning environment with Gospel values as the central foundation.

Q. How does a Catholic Classical Liberal Arts model of education support our mission?

A. Catholic Classical Liberal Arts Education accomplishes this by:

  1. Revealing the true nature of God, His creation, the human person and our dignity, and God’s work throughout salvation history…which gives way to awe, wonder, joy, confidence and the perspective required to discern purpose.
  2. Nurturing wisdom and virtue…which enlivens moral ethics and provides the foundation for understanding, compassion and authentic love necessary for living as a disciple of Christ.
  3. Fostering recognition and love for truth, beauty and goodness…which instills a desire to know, defend and participate in God’s work and to strive for excellence in all things.
  4. Providing every child with the tools of learning, thinking and communicating necessary for mastery…which results in competency and a well-trained mind able to accomplish great works, serve, influence and lead.
Q. What is unique to the Catholic Classical Liberal Arts methodology?

A. Elements of Catholic Classical Liberal Arts methodology:

  1. A program of study modeled after the Trivium based on grammar, logic and rhetoric, engages the natural stages of a child’s development and their desire to learn. It encourages them to rigorously learn fundamental facts and truths, ask questions, think deeply and critically, and effectively communicate what they discover.
  2. Curriculum that is integrated (inter-disciplinary) and scaffolded (frequent return to concepts and deepening of knowledge and understanding) aids in establishing connections, cementing concepts and promoting relational thinking.
  3. Chronological history of Catholic history and Christian anthropology provide the backbone of the curriculum in order to enrich all subject matter and provide perspective and relevancy.
  4. Exposure to excellence and the work of the greatest thinkers, creators and communicators in history inspires students to great purpose and achievement.
  5. The study and development of wisdom and virtue is at the core of building character in every child, so they may grow fully and with integrity.
  6. Emphasis on strong grammar skills provides structure for understanding and conveying knowledge; the foundation for a well-formed intellect and mastery in all subject matter.
Q. What are the proven results of a Catholic Liberal Arts Education regarding academics?

A. Results:

  1. Many of the greatest minds in our history were classically educated: Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO), Susan Wojcicki (YouTube CEO), Jack Ma (Alibaba Chairman), Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Jobs (Apple).
  2. Students that have been classically educated typically perform in the top 15 percent on standardized tests.
  3. Classically educated students are well prepared to be accepted into good colleges and many qualify for highly selective colleges and universities.
  4. People like Steve Jobs have insisted that classically educated people are more successful in their careers (even in high tech fields) and make better entrepreneurs, CEO’s and business persons as they are more equipped to think and communicate well.
Q. What are other testaments to the success of this educational philosophy and model?

A. Encouraging facts:

  1. It is the fastest growing educational model in the nation (including Catholic schools, Christian private schools and charter public schools).
  2. In some cases, entire Catholic dioceses have transitioned to this model with great success, Michigan Diocese of Marquette.
  3. Many Catholic schools are experiencing a boost in enrollment due to the intentionality of the methodology and the tried and true nature of the model.
  4. Mary Pat Donahue, founder of the “Institute for Liberal Education”, was recently hired by the USCCB to head oversight of Catholic Education in the United States.
Q. What has recently been done to strengthen our foundation as a Catholic Academic Institution at St. Monica’s?

A. We have introduced or expanded the following:

  1. Slingerland Method – a strengthened phonics and literacy program for our learners in grades K-3.
  2. Walk to Math – every student takes math at the same time to allow for movement to a level they are ready for and challenged by.
  3. Saxon Math – a superior and proven math curriculum has now been expanded through 5th grade.
  4. Spirit and Truth Curriculum – a beautiful and enriching religion program is being piloted in K, 1 and 5.
  5. Middle School History – a strong study of Catholic history has been introduced.
  6. Virtue Program – expanded to all grades.
  7. Middle School Choir – now participates at Friday Masses and special liturgies throughout the year.
  8. Fr. Freitag is lecturing to the 6-8 graders on a three-week rotation.
  9. New start time – encourages and allows for families to participate in daily Mass.
Q. What enhancements can we expect to see next year?

A. 2019-2020 School Year:

  1. Integrate history, religion and literature into a humanities block in elementary.
  2. Introduce Latin in grades 4-8 (and eventually all grades).
  3. Expand new Religion Curriculum to all grades.
  4. Saxon Math expanded through 8th grade, including Algebra and for the first time at St. Monica, Geometry.
Q. How will a new focus on Catholic Liberal Arts affect how STEM subjects are integrated?

A. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math:

  1. Science/Engineering and Math will continue to be strong subjects that integrate well into a Catholic Classical Liberal Arts cross disciplinary program.
  2. We plan to place a greater emphasis on the language of technology and computer programming as part of our curriculum.
  3. As our philosophy on incorporating technology evolves and as we learn more about the developmental needs of our students, we will assess and put forward a renewed effort to be good stewards of the resources that are available to us and provide a strong foundation for our students in an ever-changing technological world.
Q. What is St. Monica’s approach to homework in light of a Catholic Liberal Arts Education?

A. At the Grammar level (K-5), learning takes place largely in the context of the relationship between student and teacher. That means schoolwork should, for the most part, be done at school. Homework that is assigned will be age appropriate, subject and goal oriented.
However, students will need some amount of extra practice in specific or new concepts, skills, or facts. In certain subjects (e.g., math or languages), regular practice at home may be necessary for mastery. We also recognize that parents are the primary educators of their child and that our collaboration and communication with parents is essential. Our teachers will keep parents informed as to the current topics of study in the class.