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The staff at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy are like the interior designers of education. The school works as a team to accomplish for your family your specific ideas or needs for education but more importantly, what each individual in your family needs, even Mom. The advisors, through prayer and their vast knowledge of both Catholic and

secular programs available in all subjects, is able to consider the style, preference, interests, strengths and weaknesses of each of your children when carefully choosing and designing a school curriculum that is right for you.

       I have six children, ages 12-2, so far, and came to St. Thomas' years ago through an internet find. I called and an advisor spent 45 minutes on the phone reassuring me and guiding me to my next step as my oldest at the time was entering 2nd grade. I had been designing my own unit studies and was worn out from the time involved. I wanted someone else to keep my records and help me with my design. I didn't want to sign up for a "school in a box" place as I was concerned to lose some of the depth and hands-on that we were use to and loved, a kind of Montessori approach to learning.

       My oldest is entering 7th grade now and my advisor has gotten to know my children and their work. She even gets excited about what we will be doing which puts an enthusiasm and encouragement into my own schooling when I am tired and think I can't do it another day.

       This year we did a program called "Blood and Guts" accompanied by the "Body Book", a hands-on program to study human anatomy. We are more history and literature people and are not really excited to study science but this program was fun and something my younger ones could easily participate in without taking away any challenge or learning from the older children. The idea was the kids cut and colored, glued and assembled individual parts of the human body while I read to them about that system. I learned a lot myself. Then by the end, they had a complete skeleton which was great to display at our homeschool group project fair. This illustrates only one example of doing together, hands on, programs that can reach all levels at once. That was it for science, not 5 separate classes for each child. Then we followed up with a great game called "Skeletons in the Closet" that I got through Emmanuel Books which reinforced much we had learned.

       Your advisor tries to pull your family together no matter what the children's personalities, learning abilities, etc. either in groups or one big lot. It makes learning fun and it helps you on a time budget to feel like you are not leaving anything out. Another example of this would be history. We all study the same period in history either together or in the respective ages. Last year, for instance, the older kids and I studied the middle ages through exploration. At a different time, the older boys read to my third child from Hillyer's "Child's History of the World." This was their reading skill class and her history class. She learned the same material at her level but still with her brothers which made it fun for her. Then our art history class which we did as a family studied the art from the period and we always brought back why the artist did what he did because of circumstances we were all familiar with from the history surrounding it.

       Sometimes it happens that a program may not work but it is nothing that can't be fixed. Because STAA designs lessons individually rather than as an entire grade, a program can be taken out and reinserted with another. For instance, my older boys have a hard time with grammar. They are good writers but have a super hard time with labeling parts of speech. My advisor had recommended a workbook a the beginning of the year to be used one day and the other days to use Winston Grammar. Winston Grammar was a wonderful help for us as it used cards with clues to help decode the part of speech. They did fine with this but the workbook did not work out. I just called and spoke with the school about it and no problem, I was given a suggestion for a different program that worked just fine. I love the flexibility but security I get from STAA. It is not something to stress over, "What am I going to do, they are failing this workbook?" The idea behind St. Thomas is not to finish at all costs, it is to encourage learning and ability: "Not information but formation" is always one of the models.

       Formation takes time, patience, knowledge, understanding and prayer- all things that St. Thomas Aquinas Academy have shown to me without fail. Everything you get from STAA is not about curriculum but about your children. I have a very wonderful but "particular" six year old. He is like Timmy in the Mitchell's Story. Don't get him cross in the morning or it's going to be a long day. He will be starting first grade next year and, unlike my older kids, I didn’t think it would work to school he and the next boy together, not because of ability but because of the six-year-old's temperament. My advisor worked through formative ideas, "Get him out of his head and into his hands" meaning that clay, sand, cutting, etc were good activities to do. She suggested he was over-stimulated which is unavoidable being fourth of six children, five of which are boys. "He needs to unwind" and he won't get so worked up. Although this has still been a struggle, it helped me focus more on this particular child's needs, giving me a different understanding than I had during my frustration. These are the kind of insights and help my advisor brings because of her vast experience and because of her prayer she spends on behalf of you in particular.

       Without a good team though, nothing can be successful. The office staff is always helpful, extremely kind, and efficient with any questions or concerns. The computer communication, presentation and efficiency just in the last two years has been remarkable. 

       I can not recommend this program highly enough. If you want the education of your children and the spirit of your family to be designed just for you, then look no further. No one can do it better than St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.

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