Mount St. Michael Catholic School is in its 28th year of working with families to form their children in courageous virtue grounded in the truth of Christ. The school began in 1978 as a preschool Montessori program, but quickly grew to also serve grades 1-8 with what moderns would call a “traditional” curriculum and program. In the year 2000, a Mount St. Michael teacher of fourteen years, Mrs. Gretchen Montgomery, became principal of the school, and joined with a group of parents, teachers, and the school advisory council to move the school into a classical curriculum and methodology. She had been exposed to the classical approach at homeschool book fairs and saw a powerful opportunity to provide instruction according to the God-given natural development of the child, as well as to naturally integrate Church history, the lives of the saints, and virtue formation.
Today, students from forty-two different zip codes attend Mount St. Michael. There are three primary attractions to the school that are unique among the Catholic schools in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area: the daily celebration of the Mass incorporated into the school day to further the overall spiritual life, a preschool Montessori school, and a 1st-8th grade classical school. Many homeschool families are thrilled to find the same books on the principal’s shelf as they have at home. Some have described the school as “the next best thing to homeschooling,” only with a larger “kitchen table.” Enrollment grew from 118 to 189 over the course of six years.
Memoria Press plays an important role in the development of the classical school. Mount St. Michael incorporates their Latin materials for all students, from three-year-olds through fourteen-year-olds. Mrs. Carol Weberg, a Latin educator by degree, developed Montessori materials specifically for the PK3-PK5’s and teaches Latin to every student in the school. Memoria Press Logic especially provides a solid foundation for seventh and eighth grade students as they develop the ability to discern the truth before graduating to attend a variety of high schools. Throughout the school, teachers have enthusiastically enjoyed using the MP Literature Guides to lead students into a deeper appreciation and understanding of literature’s vocabulary and content.
One of the highlights of the school year is the recitation of “Horatius at the Bridge” by the sixth grade class after studying the ballad using the Memoria Press study guide. While the entire class is required to memorize only twenty-four stanzas, they are challenged to memorize and recite all seventy. Those students successfully reciting all seventy are honored with the Winston Churchill Award and have their names added to the plaque displayed for all to see. This year they will each receive the award’s medal, made available through Memoria Press.
In addition, the professional development provided through the Memoria Press magazine, The Classical Teacher, and their conferences influence and guide the paradigms from which teachers instruct their students. Mount St. Michael continues to explore and discover other “gems” provided by Memoria Press and others to further develop as a classical school and develop its students, as St. Ireneus put it, for “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
Originally published in The Classical Teacher, Spring 2014