St. Thomas More Academy K-8 curriculum has nine fundamental components:
1. Faith and the Virtues
Each day begins with Holy Mass in St. Patrick’s church. Scripture, stories of the saints, prayers, and hymns are woven into the fabric of each day. Once a week, students will learn Catholic doctrine. For the 2nd graders, this will include preparation for First Communion and First Confession, and for the 8th graders, this will include preparation for Confirmation. Our older students will have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confession on a weekly basis. Every morning, our teachers will help the students learn and practice the “virtue of the week” using the “Education in Virtue” program developed by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, and a priest will give a monthly talk to each classroom about one of these virtues. STMA’s discipline policies and positive behavior recognition plan are structured according to these virtues. Students are surrounded by an environment of beauty in the school building, classrooms, and church that brings peace to their soul, and draws their hearts and minds to God.
2. Integrated Humanities
STMA is using the St. Patrick’s Curriculum developed by Diana Philpott and Lisa Kearns. Salvation history provides the spine of this curriculum, and it includes geography, art, architecture, religion, music, literature (with read alouds), poetry, and science. The skills of the Trivium, including reading, spelling, writing, handwriting, copywork, grammar, logic, vocabulary, and rhetoric are developed in the context of true, good, and beautiful books. Children are introduced to historical lands and cultures as the story of the Israelites interweaves with great civilizations. They recognize the Incarnation as the center of history, and follow the birth and growth of the Church as she spreads the Gospel to all lands. Children also grow to see that this story of salvation is their story. They learn that God has a plan, life is meaningful, and how they live matters greatly. Stories of saints and heroes develop strong imaginations and inspire virtuous ideals of goodness, nobility, and holiness. An explanation of the St. Patrick Curriculum can be found HERE.
3. Language Arts Skills (The Trivium)
Every day, students study phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and rhetoric with their teachers in a formal way. Skills learned during this time will be reviewed and practiced throughout the rest of the day. For Phonics, Kindergarteners will use Memoria Press’ First Start Reading, and 1st and 2nd graders will use Little Angel Reader Phonics Series. Natural Speller will be used for Spelling, and English from the Roots Up will be used for Vocabulary. In Grades 5-8, students will use Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition
4. Latin (The Trivium)
Kindergarteners and 1st graders are exposed to the Latin language through hymns and prayers. Students begin to formally learn Latin in 2nd grade. Latin is an extremely logical language, and as students learn their grammar and syntax, they better understand the workings of the English language, and learn to think more logically. The study of Latin has a privileged place in STMA’s curriculum because it is the language of the Roman Catholic Church, and the root of modern Romance languages.
5. Mathematics (The Quadrivium)
In Kindergarten and 1st grade, students will utilize the RightStart Mathematics curriculum, which includes hands-on manipulatives. In 2nd grade, students will transition to Math Mammoth, which focuses on mastery of concepts following a ladder of learning approach.
6. Science (The Quadrivium)
Twice a week, younger students will use James Partridge’s Natural Science Through the Seasons, as well as Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study and Nature Notebook Series, to learn to observe what is seasonally happening in the natural world around them, and begin to deduce the order intrinsic in the universe. Every day, students will have some time to observe plants in the classroom gardens, noting how they are developing in a systematic way. Once a week, they will go on an observation walk around the school grounds. Students in grades 5-8 will study Bernard Nebel’s Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding.
7. The Fine Arts
Students will have dedicated time for Music three or four times a week. In Music class, in addition to learning modern music theory and folk songs, students will learn to sing hymns and Gregorian chant through the Ward Method so that they can sing at Mass as an all-school choir. Students will have dedicated time for Art twice a week in the 1st two trimesters, and dedicated time for Drama twice a week in the 3rd trimester. The Fine Arts have a privileged place in STMA’s curriculum in order to develop the students’ creative powers, train their aesthetic sense, and properly order their affections.
Children need to exercise their bodies in order to exercise their minds, and so STMA will have several short recesses daily, punctuating blocks of study. This will also give them time to socialize. The students will practice playing organized games and sports once a week during a longer Gym period.
At lunch, multiple grades will be together, providing an opportunity for the older students to develop a relationship with the younger students. Lunch will be an opportunity for students to socialize, practice good manners, and serve one another by helping with cleanup.