Why do we educate in a different way than traditional schools?
Seven years ago a new adventure in learning began in the City Center of Joliet, Illinois. St. Joseph Academy was established to give parents another option as they choose the education they want for their children.
Traditional education is good for many children, but one size does not necessarily fit all. There are those students who learn at their own pace…either more quickly or more slowly, or just in a different way, than their peers. Following the precepts of Montessori education, which focuses on each child as an individual, St. Joseph Academy designed a new kind of school, one that took many of the methods of traditional education and reframed them in the light of Montessori philosophy.
Our preschool-kindergarten is a true Montessori classroom, under the direction of a guide educated through the American Montessori Society. The children, ages three through five or six, begin with Practical Life and move into Sensorial Learning, as well as hands-on Language, Math, Geography, and Science. Each child is introduced to these concepts as they are ready for them, each at their own pace. Emphasis is on the child developing respect for themselves, for their peers, for adults and for the environment, and becoming responsible and resourceful learners.
Our elementary and adolescent programs are housed in multi-age classrooms, where students can learn at their own pace rather than at a prescribed grade level. First through fourth graders study the basics of reading, writing, and math, as well as being introduced to science, social studies, Spanish, music and art.
Fifth graders into high school use traditional textbooks, but not in a traditional way. Subjects are introduced to all the students, but assignments and presentations vary according to each child’s interests and abilities. Textbooks become resource books, supplemented by computer and print research. Homework and testing is a tool rather than an end in itself. Students gain confidence and develop creativity through oral reports and presentations.
Since we are a Christian school based on Catholic tradition, religion is an important part of our day. Our preschool and kindergarten students have their own “Atrium” where they experience the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori program for developing a relationship with the Lord. Elementary and adolescent students attend daily Mass at nearby St. Joseph Parish, and some the older students choose to either become altar servers or lectors. Through their religion classes and church services, the students learn what it means to be a Christian and to serve God and neighbor.