Sometimes happiness is found in Latin class.
Today’s positive story features Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy, the first classical charter school in Arkansas. This K-12 school is giving kids the chance to dig into the treasures of the past to get excited about learning.
So, what exactly is classical education? (Hint: It’s not about classical music.)
“While we do have great art departments and music departments, that’s not the kind of classics we’re talking about,” explained Susan Provenza, headmaster at the school. “We’re talking about the beginnings of Western heritage and culture.”
Many of the classes at the public charter school are conducted in a “Socratic” method, which encourages students to engage course material for themselves through questions and discussion. By actively discussing the subjects each day, students learn to love asking questions and exploring!
The curriculum is full of treasures that many of us never have the opportunity to encounter, like Plato, Socrates, and even the Latin language.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much of the English language came from Latin,” said Provenza. “It’s going to improve your reading comprehension. It’s going to improve your reading fluency. It is going to improve your grammar, your writing. All of those things can be tied directly back to Latin.”
Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy is a public school with open enrollment, and it’s not just academically gifted students who enjoy the school’s unique curriculum.
Something that’s really great about classical education is that is can be for everybody. You may have a student that has a learning disability in reading, and they may have to read a different [version of a] book, but it doesn’t change what you could learn from that book. – Susan Provenza
While the school is less than ten years old, its students are already displaying how they’re positively benefiting from the learning environment.
“When we are on field trips, the people that encounter our students are blown away by the way they behave, the way they speak to adults, the conversations they have, the questions they ask,” said Provenza. “That is a huge compliment to us and what we’re doing to help kids really be the best version of themselves.”
The school has had two graduating classes so far, and 100% college acceptance for both. Provenza said the first graduating class of ten students had about $800,000 worth of scholarships. The second graduating class, which had sixteen students, earned over $1 million in scholarships.
“We’re really proud of our kids because they work really hard, they want to do great things with their lives, and they’re able to go and do those things,” said Provenza.
Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy is a wonderful reminder that education is not just about careers. It’s even more about humans and helping them fall in love with learning!
As Provenza put it, “If you have great human beings who have the ability to think, to know, and then apply that knowledge, then those kids are going to have careers.”
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