January 13

“Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imitation as a method of teaching was passed down by the Greeks and was highly respected among scholars and educators.  Aristotle viewed imitation as a “part of human nature.”  A natural process inherent in all learning, Andrew Kern says, “You become what you behold.”  Our Borromeo Academy staff must model what we want our students to become, which are life-long learners, lovers of wisdom and truth and watchers of beauty.

You can define teaching as the art of being imitated because children are natural imitators.  This is a humbling reality when you become a parent and when you work with children.  As a staff, we are paying attention to this important art of teaching.  Borromeo Academy is being intentional.  Intentional in our curriculum choices for the classrooms, in the way we teach and in the formation of our teachers.  We want to model for our students whom we want them to become.  We are spending more time cultivating our faith and intellectual habits in order to inspire the students to imitate what they encounter in the classroom.  We are doing this in many ways, but here are a few examples:  we have started a staff book club that meets every month to expand our intellectual life and increase our thirst for knowledge.  The four books we are reading this year are: The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., Tools and Fuels: How Catholic Teachers Can Become Saints, Beat Burnout and Save the World by Jonathon E. Doyle, Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina by Tim Gray, and Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott.  We pray together and encourage each other in our faith walk.  Mass, Adoration, and Lectio Divina have also been a central focus for the staff this year.

As Father Joe Cisetti says, “We need to live lives of intentional faith.”  This is not an easy way to live.  It makes you counter-cultural in almost every way.  Catholic classical education should be an aid and encouragement to this type of intentional living.

Have you ever observed a child imitating your tone of voice, mimicking your gestures or treating others in a manner that resembles your interactions with them?  Our children will become like us whether we like it or not.  Regardless of the teaching method or approach you use, the only way a child will become truly virtuous is if you, as your child’s primary teacher, embody truth and become a living example.  If we want our children to love what is beautiful and good, then we need to show them how to behold Christ, behold truth and beauty, and invite them into your lived life.  What are you reading?  How do you treat others?  Where are you in your faith journey?  What movies and TV shows are you consuming?  How do you spend your time?  Where and whom are you serving?  Each of these decisions shows your children what you value most.

Education through imitation is an essential part of God’s design for growing in wisdom.  We are created as images of God, therefore, it is when we are imitating the true, good and beautiful that we are becoming what we should be, that we are truly learning.  Our faith calls us to be imitators of Jesus.  The more we keep our gaze on Him and learn who He is, the stronger our example will be.  We need to cultivate moral, physical and intellectual virtues in children.  What will that look like for you this coming year?  In your home?  In the classroom?  About what are you being intentional?

“So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrifice offering to God for a fragrant aroma.”

Ephesians 5:1-2

“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.”

Luke 6:40

 

In Christ,

Lisa Corley

Dean of Academics

Borromeo Academy

 

Additional resources for further reading (Protestant author):

Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5944774-desiring-the-kingdom?from_search=true

 

            You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit  by James K.A. Smith

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26568656-you-are-what-you-love

 

December 11

Building a joyful culture at SCBA

When I arrived at St. Charles in 2015, I discovered that we were distracted by many things. We lacked pure joy and lost our gaze on Jesus. So today I stand here before you in thanks and deep appreciation because you have given us the opportunity to reboot. Not all schools on the verge of closure are so lucky. Borromeo Academy is one of them. My goal here this morning is to update you on what has occurred this past year. One simple word comes to my mind each time I enter the building. JOY.

Joy is a treasure. Not like a piece of gold or the Hope diamond. It’s a living treasure, one that makes us whole. The thing is… everyone can see our own personal joy. It is contagious and can be spread by treating others with the kindness and gentleness that stems from one’s personal, close, relationship with Jesus. A community, if filled with the kind of focus on Christ, can spread joy. And for a while, we lacked pure, spiritual joy. Teachers were here doing what they do best, but we were distracted. Distracted by the latest educational gimmick that will improve test scores, stem, and low enrollment just to name a few. While we were Catholic, we were not experiencing joy on the deepest level.

A school lacking joyful teachers and staff becomes more focused on what is missing and less grateful. After all, when we lose sight of Christ, we start to doubt, open ourselves up and entertain negative thoughts, our trust in God is undermined. If we keep our gaze steady on Jesus Christ and make Him our Savior, leader, and guide, then we experience unbelievable joy as a result.

And that is exactly what we did. We talk a lot about joy at Borromeo Academy these days. Joy is a funny thing. It can completely engulf us and yet be entirely elusive. On the verge of closing a school, joyfulness eluded us.  Through the financial and spiritual support of the many people in our community and beyond Shady Lane, we discovered joy again. You see, Jesus made a way for us to have joy… big, bright, unbridled joy. He wants us to have the very same joy that He has. It all depends on us.

So often in history, we have seen the depth of the troughs of scandal, evil, disease, greed, war, and the list goes on. When things seem at their worst, a renewal is working through the background, growing, gaining strength, and ready to rise. Borromeo Academy experienced that renewal through the adoption of the classical model. A joyful model that affords us a strong Catholic identity. After all, our Catholic identity is the foundation of our school, the reason for our existence.  A Catholic education is the formation of boys and girls who will be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbor and who will also be citizens of the world to come, thus fulfilling their destiny to become saints.

Once a melancholy culture, the halls of Borromeo Academy are experiencing a reboot, a new start. Our teachers have worked incredibly hard over the past two years to transform our school. We have changed many things. New curriculum materials, teacher training opportunities, and physical changes to the environment. New windows, updated school lobby with a gallery wall, a conference room, and our new second-floor arts center including a chapel and library. The parish, too, has experienced growth with a brand-new parish office building, gathering space and the long-awaited elevator!

Not only has the physical appearance changed, but the academy has grown to nearly two hundred students from a low of 123 in 2016. Just the other day we welcomed a new family to the community, which now puts our 6th grade at capacity! We have a long-range plan is in place for expansion of educational services including a Montessori track in our early childhood program and plans to offer homeschooling families part-time courses. Our teachers are hard at work forming disciples by teaching scholars about respect, morality, and self-control through the classic liberal arts approach. The students have been exposed to new coursework including Latin and are experiencing new ways of learning such as Socratic circles, and embodied learning such as monastery day (Where 4th & 7th graders took a vow of silence). We brought back diagramming sentences, recitations, and learning about historical time periods.

Yes, we have experienced joy again at St. Charles. The joy of learning. In our natural state, it’s fun to learn, but so many times, school deadens our desire to seek knowledge rather than encourage it. In a classical Catholic school, the focus is on enriching the human soul and providing an environment of joyful learning rather than churning out successful test takers. At Borromeo Academy, our classical curriculum encourages deep thought and exploration that sparks delight, even as it challenges. We seek to permeate joy into everything we do and say.

But the work is not finished, we must maintain a growth mentality. Our goal is to continue to increase enrollment and provide a high-quality classical education graduating students that can think well, write well, and speak well. In order to do reach our goals, we must conduct marketing efforts and provide classical and spiritual training for our teachers. These items require extra funding above budgeted items.  Hence why we are here today. I humbly ask you today to help us find the joy that God has for us. Joy is something that completes us and, in its fullness, spills out into the lives of others. Won’t you help us spread the joy of classical education?

Ann Lachowitzer

Principal, Borromeo Academy

May 15

Closure? I just started. Part 1

I got in the car, shut the door and cried. The date was April something 2016. I don’t recall that detail without looking it up on the calendar. It doesn’t really matter though, because that was the day I was told my school might face the worst case scenario, closure. Closure, as defined by Merriam Webster, the act of closing; the state of being closed; a bringing to an end; conclusion; something that closes or shuts. No matter what it meant officially, it came with a slew of emotions. How in the world did I get to this place in my career? A master’s degree surely had not prepared me for the challenges I was about to face. My husband of 29 years tried to comfort me to little avail. I pinched myself thinking this was a dream. After all, I just started my tenure as principal of St. Charles Catholic School, a job I had dreamed of for many years. For me though, it was more than a job, it was my passion. I had longed for a position like this. I prayed over and over again that I would become a principal. What would I do now? Euphoria had set in just one year before. How could I go from pure joy to pure sadness?

Rewind to May 2015. After spending five years as the director of St. Therese Early Education Center, I was offered the principal position at St. Charles. I think I applied the last day and was the last applicant interviewed. I knew there were some issues facing St. Charles, but nothing I didn’t think I could handle. By God’s grace, I received a phone call from Father Totton the morning after my interview. I accepted the position and was on cloud nine. I had worked hard to get to this point in my life. Going back to school with four children at home, a husband that travels for a living, and no relatives in town to help was hard, but I loved every minute of it. I am a learner. 

July came quickly. With sadness in my heart but brimming with excitement I left St. Therese, my home for almost a decade. I dove in and began to see the amount of work ahead of me. While I faced some big challenges that first month, I couldn’t wait for school to start. I knew that once the students returned, things would calm down and I would find my place. I did and I loved it. My students made me happy and they made my heart sing. Yes, there were issues, but I was in love with being a principal. I knew I was in the right place. The community accepted me and showered me with support. Things went along, but I knew that our financial picture was bleak. I had attended all of the parish finance meetings and even met with the superintendent to think of ways to cut the budget that fall. My PTO and Advisory Council met regularly and we talked about fundraising, marketing, and building enrollment. Little did I know though that all of those discussions and plans might be for nothing.  You see St. Charles was a good catholic school,we had been since 1949. A lot of folks went to school here and moved out of the area to open other parishes north of the river. We had a lot of good years, but the future looked bleak.

After the finance council shared that the school may have to close, I questioned my role. I had never in my life felt so alone. Yes, I had a great family supporting me, but every day at school I had to put on a happy face. I couldn’t share what was really going on. Two full weeks went by until that fateful day when I had to gather my teachers and tell them the bad news. I was comforted by the one person who totally understood what was happening, Linda Krickle. She had lived this scenario once before at St. Mary’s High School in Independence. She was there when the school closed. She was St. Mary’s. Linda and I made the longest walk down the short hallway to room 108. As soon as my teachers saw me, they knew something was wrong. I fought hard to keep the tears at bay, but alas they came. Tears flooded the room as teachers sat there in disbelief. Not even one year under my belt, and I to was facing possible unemployment.

Parents and alumni were informed. I lost families to other schools. Students cried. Morale was about as low as it could be in the halls of St. Charles. Fight, they all said. Fight? What in the world was I going to fight for? There is no training for this scenario, so I prayed and at the May meeting I shared my thoughts. Alumni stood up, shared their stories, and us gave money. A donor came forward with the promise of keeping St. Charles open. Hallelujah! News trucks stopped parking in the front lot and we were saved. Well, we were given the gift of time.

Thank you appeared in our windows, but only after losing families and a precious staff member. The work was just starting. Little did I know that I would be spending countless hours at school and at home trying to figure out what happened and how we would go on.

 

May 1

A gallery wall in a school?

  What a change! It is hard to believe that this is the same lobby. Thanks to Jennifer Harris, Dick S., Mike M., Louie P., Chris W., and numerous other volunteers for bringing dreams to reality. Our lobby is an inspiring and beautiful space.

The open house was a big success. Lots of alumni and new families stopped in to see the school and peruse the new curriculum materials. We are well on our way to becoming a classical catholic school. We will be the first in the diocese and the first on the Missouri side as we join Padre Pio in Shawnee, KS. Things are moving fast as you can see by the photo. Not only is the lobby near completion, but the curriculum is as well. We have some mighty talented staff writing new standards and choosing materials. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Lisa Corley, Susie Henton, and Karla Prewitt. Together they have drafted our educational plan. Students will be exposed to not just beautiful art, but music as well. Thanks to Mrs. Tomes, our music teacher, for re-writing the music curriculum so that our students will learn the foundation of music and the importance of performance.

Along with new surroundings and new curriculum, new staff and new policies will be put in place this fall. One of the biggest changes is the adoption of a new uniform policy. The Advisory Committee discussed the importance of making this change as the school rebirths as a classical academy.  Currently, a group of parents and staff members are researching our options. As of today, I can safely announce the following changes.

  • Tennis shoes may only be worn on PE days.
  • Brown or black shoes will be required all other days.
  • We are moving towards Khaki pants and ties along with a new plaid for jumpers and skirts.

With the new name and new crest, comes higher expectations for students, teachers, and parents. I will announce staff positions in a couple of weeks. Right now, we will focus on creating a beautiful school that inspires our students and teaches them how to act responsibly. We will seek to find the truth, beauty, and goodness in everything we study and do. Please join us every Wednesday for Adoration in the church at 3:20. Together we can make a difference, and together we can create a destination school.

Great article for parents: Choosing schools

God Bless and thank you for the continued support,

Ann Lachowitzer

 

 

March 8

It is not about getting a job!

The classical education is based on the liberal arts, liberal meaning liberated – free. That assumed, a child engaged in a liberal arts education will learn the following during the three phases, and not in isolated subjects. The three phases of their formal education being grammar and logic in grades K-8 and rhetoric in grades 9-12. We will strive to teach our children at St. Charles Borromeo Academy the following:

• to listen and read carefully;
• to think clearly and express himself persuasively;
• to comprehend his position in space, time, and culture and his relation to other places, times, and people;
• to appreciate and learn from the difference between his own and those other places, times, and people;
• to enjoy a wider range of beauty as a result of that wider exposure;
• to devote himself to continued learning on his own, using the tools of learning acquired in the previous five points;
• to evaluate, and ascribe the proper significance to, all of the above in the light of a transcendent, absolute standard
• to serve humbly and care for others; to construct and defend the catholic faith as a result of his education.

It is NOT to get a job. It is about the child and becoming a life long learner prepared to do the jobs that haven’t even been created. Dorothy Sayers shares her opinion on school subjects in her famous essay, The Lost Tools of Learning. Sayers notes that often schools succeed in teaching our children “subjects”, but fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think; they learn everything, except the art of learning. When skills are taught they are pigeonholed into instruction in certain subjects, science only in science not in religion, history, or math.

The formation of your child at St. Charles Borromeo Academy will be based on what is good, true, and beautiful. Pope Francis eloquently writes, “All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful brings us to God. Because God is good, God is beautiful, God is the truth.” Your child’s education will be focused on the idea that Christianity, the Bible, and God himself are integral to everything. God looked out across the whole of creation and stated, “there is not one thumb’s breadth of it that is not Mine” not the physical world, not the spiritual world, not history, not science or spelling, not literature, art, or math, not government, cultures or societies. It is all his, and we must help our children learn and internalize this enduring truth. We will weave a beautiful curriculum through integrating Humanities, Latin, Grammar, Science, Art, Music, and Physical Education.

We hope that you will share this information with others in our community and spread the joy of classical learning.

February 22

Catholic Key Article

Things are moving along on Shady Lane in Oakview!  We have a new church/school roof, replacement windows for the second floor are ordered, the rectory has been completely remodeled, and a plan for renovating the school is in place. A lot has changed since last May. Our new curriculum director, Lisa Corley, is working with Karla Prewitt, middle school math and science, and Susie Henton, second grade, to examine classical model materials. We are very excited about our future! The following article is in the Catholic Key.

St. Charles School renovating curriculum and philosophy

February 20

Why Latin?

From the classical conversations website: https://www.classicalconversations.com

 

Learning Latin is foundational to giving your child a classical education. Studying Latin improves mental discipline, indirectly improves English vocabulary and usage, and opens the doors to reading classical and technical literature.

One benefit of studying Latin is that it develops mental discipline. Studying any foreign language involves memorization and application. In Latin, students develop mental discipline by memorizing verb endings (conjugations), noun endings (declensions), and vocabulary words. Although our postmodern minds may balk at memorization, it is no different from preparing for algebra by memorizing the multiplication tables.

When my son first began to take tennis lessons five years ago, he came home complaining that they never played tennis. Of course, I questioned him about this, and he explained that they spent all of their time drilling and not playing actual games of tennis. Five years later, he is an accomplished tennis player who frequently competes in tournaments. We expect our children to drill in fine arts or sports, but we balk at drilling academic subjects.

After children have developed the discipline of memorizing the fundamentals of Latin, they begin to apply what they have learned by conjugating verbs in different tenses, declining nouns, and translating. Translation is the final skill learned as students assimilate their knowledge of Latin vocabulary and grammar.

The process of memorizing and translating Latin develops excellent study habits as students learn to memorize, to apply, to thoroughly observe details, to work carefully, and to persevere. Latin provides a daily exercise regimen for the brain ‘muscle.’

In addition to developing mental discipline, students who study Latin improve their understanding of their mother tongue—English. It has been estimated that 50% of English words have Latin roots. The number increases to roughly 80% of words that are two or more syllables. This means that Latin students have much higher scores on standardized vocabulary tests such as the SAT. More importantly, Latin students have a larger vocabulary at their command when they are reading and writing.

Vocabulary is not the only English language skill that is enhanced by Latin studies. When students translate sentences and larger passages from Latin to English, they also get a comprehensive course in English grammar as they learn to consider how the eight parts of speech function in both languages. Latin students also receive an excellent education in style. Latin is a more precise and concise language than English. This is why Latin forms the basis for so many inscriptions such as e pluribus unum (out of many, one) on American coins and the mottoes for states, universities, and other institutions. After deliberate studies of Latin, students become better writers in English. Writers throughout history— including notables such as Shakespeare—have credited their Latin studies for their English language facility.

If these were not enough intellectual riches, students of Latin have an advantage when they proceed to study other languages. In his book, The Latin-Centered Curriculum, Andrew Campbell notes that, “the major Romance languages—Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese—derive 90%or more of their vocabulary from Latin” (p. 44). Students of Latin apprehend other languages much more quickly not just because of their training in grammar and translation, but because they have a head start in remembering the meanings of new words which have Latin roots.

February 14

Classical Resources

Classical Education Books

Norms and Nobility, by David Hicks

The Liberal Arts Tradition, by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain

The Well-Educated Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer

A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, by Susan Wise Bauer

Seven Laws of Teaching, by John Milton Gregory

Awakening Wonder:  A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness and Beauty, by Stephen R Turley

John Milton: Classical Learning and the Progress of Virtue, by Grant Horner

Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton

A Students Guide to the Core Curriculum and A Students guide to the Liberal Arts,

by Mark Henrie and James Schall

The Trivium, by Sr Miriam Joseph

Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education, by Stratford Caldecott

Recovering a Catholic Philosophy of Elementary Education, by Curtis Hancock

The War Against Grammar, David Mulroy

 

Schools

http://www.jpgacademy.org/

http://www.johnboscoschools.org/

http://sacredheartacademygr.org/about/vision/

http://www.stjeromes.org/education/parish-school

http://lourdesclassical.org/

http://saintaugustineacademy.com/

http://whitefieldacademy.org/

https://www.fcaclassical.org/

Web Resources

The Cardinal Newman Society https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/

Institute for Catholic Liberal Education http://www.catholicliberaleducation.org/

NAPCIS http://napcis.org/

Circe Institute https://www.circeinstitute.org/

Arts of Liberty http://www.artsofliberty.org/

Memoria Press https://www.memoriapress.com/
The Prairie Troubador http://prairietroubadour.org/

The Classical Academic Press https://classicalacademicpress.com/

Catholics for Classical Education http://catholicsforclassicaled.com/classical-education/

Articles

  1. Lincoln Nebraska Bishop – literature brought him to the Catholic Faith

http://aleteia.org/2016/02/05/the-bishop-who-wants-to-bring-great-books-to-the-midwest/

  1. Holy See’s teaching on Catholic Education

http://www.catholicliberaleducation.org/the-holy-sees-teaching-on-catholic-schools.html

  1. Essay to go with article above

https://www.ncregister.com/images/documents/Literature_Section_053115.pdf

  1. Catholic Education

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_27041998_school2000_en.html

  1. Green Bay Classical School

http://www.thecompassnews.org/2015/01/kcss-students-embrace-classical-education/

6.Classical Overview

http://classicalsubjects.com/resources/ICE.pdf

  1. Interview with David Hicks

http://www.circemagazine.com/words-of-wisdom/2014/11/6/the-mind-is-a-fire-an-interview-with-david-hicks

  1. Anthony Esolen

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/winning-around

  1. Michigan Diocese

https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/mich-diocese-shifts-to-classical-curriculum-avoids-common-core/

10.Crisis Magazine

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/truth-goal-classical-schools

 

February 12

Video to view and article to read. The classical model comes to Shady Lane Drive!

Welcome to my blog. I am excited to share information about the classic liberal arts model with you. Please join me as we embark on this amazing journey to becoming Forever Classical at St. Charles Borromeo. Together,  we will make our school viable, our students wise, holy and smart and our community more joyful. Please leave your comments and questions.

https://www.catholicliberaleducation.org/beyond-the-test-newsletter/focus-on-saint-agatha-academy-winchester-ky-elisabeth-sullivan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E66kP3kopSY