By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
The Sisters of Divine Providence told parents Tuesday night at St. Camillus Academy they would be willing to lease the buildings for a dollar a year, if the parents can keep the historic Corbin school open this upcoming school year.
The announcement came late in a meeting of parents, faculty, board members and interested persons with Martin Cothran, a co-founder of Highlands Latin School in Louisville, and senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky.
Cothran was in Corbin to speak about the concept of “classical education,” and to present options about keeping the school open, and to answer questions the audience would have.
“For right now, we’re willing to lease the buildings for a dollar a year to the parents of St. Camillus who are interested, until we get on our feet, with the hope it can be purchased someday,” said Sister Carleen, who came from the Sister’s convent in the northern Kentucky community of Melbourne to tell the news to those in attendance.
Applause came from the group of around 25 persons, at which time Cothran said to her, “That is very kind of you.”
“If the parents can make this work, we’re willing to do that. We just can’t put out the money to make it happen. If the parents can make this work, we’re willing to do that. We would love to see education continued here,” added Sister Carleen.
Last month, St. Camillus officials were told by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington that the school would close at the end of the school year in May. The school, which began in 1908, is owned by the Sisters of Divine Providence and operated by the diocese.
Prior to the announcement, Cothran answered questions on how the school can go forward with another year of existence.
When an audience member asked what would happen next after the May closing, Cothran said, “I would decide now if you want to run a day school, or one on a limited schedule. If you do that (a limited schedule) you attract more students who are home schooled. Or, you can do a hybrid, and have classes on the lower levels, like K-2, and a limited program two-to-three days a week with home schoolers.”
Another person asked Cothran about what can be done at St. Camillus, and pointed out to what his school could offer to parents in Louisville as a starting point.
“In a classical program, Christianity is built in. We have very orderly classrooms. We get a lot of teachers who are graduates of Southern Baptist Seminary, which is a block away. We have full-time teachers in the lower levels, and you need that in the lower grades. And we have several of our teachers who are retired or semi-retired, which can work in the higher levels. At St. Camillus, your biggest expenses are faculty and facilities. Your tuition is very low. We charge a little over $6,000 and we have a book fee. We’re considered inexpensive. You have to ask yourself, ‘What is the value added in what you’re doing?’”
Cothran was introduced to the program by Kim Devers, a parent who has children who attend St. Camillus.
“We’re here for a common goal, and that’s what is best for the children.”
Cothran followed, telling the audience “I speak to groups all over the nation about going the next step in their education process.” He added what has been done at Highlands Latin has been very successful.
“Classical education is what we do. You wouldn’t think that a Latin program would be a big item, but it works. We started as a two-day-a-week school, mostly serving home schoolers and mostly in the middle grades. I joined the program in 1998. We added about 50 kids a year, and we added three days a week. Then we added a fourth day. In our program, kids need to read — books. They need an extra day to read, so we have a fifth day off.”
With an enrollment of what he noted was “about 550 kids,” Cothran said the private, classical and Christian school is now “capping their growth,” and has a waiting list to the 9th Grade.
“It’s been very successful. Private schooling in Louisville has been successful, and because of what we’re teaching, and how we teach, we’ve done very well.”
Cothran, who is the Upper School Curriculum Director at Highlands Latin, teaches Latin and Logic, as well as publishes educational curricula.
He told those attending the concept of “classical education” gives students the tools of lifelong learning, instead of just teaching subjects to them, and helps them learn how to think. Grammar, logic and rhetoric are the three basic methods of learning subjects in the foundation of classical education, according to an article from the Catholic News Agency.
“We adhere to the classical education model, which has been around for a long time. It goes back to ancient times, when the Greeks invented education, and the Romans inherited it. Through the Middle Ages, the Medieval period, the Puritans and the Founding Fathers’ education was very classical. The old classical education was passed down to the next generation,” he stated.
During the program, Cothran added classical education was the study of what he called the “Great Books” and the liberal arts, which he said were the old set of doing critical thinking skills.
“It those old schools where they taught Greek and Latin, they would use those languages to better study English. Today, grammar is becoming an endangered species. Linguistics skills have fallen on hard times. Technical things are great, but we need a renewed emphasis on language.”
When asked about the school’s curriculum, Cothran said Highlands Latin had a “classical core curriculum.”
“There’s something you do in the curriculum every week. The teachers love it. We use the traditional teaching methodology. If you try to teach children something, you have to have order, in order to do it, especially in the lower levels. Latin, math and music are our strong programs, and we’re very serious about Latin, which is our grammar program. We do have certain classes taught twice a week, and other classes once a week. What people don’t know is that technology can be more of a distraction than a benefit. And so, we pretty much stress books, and it seems to work pretty well.”
Deal is for a dollar a year, ‘with the hope it can be purchased someday’
By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
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