Frequently asked questions
Why Byzantine Catholic?
We are Byzantine Catholic and we love the rich, vibrant heritage of our Faith. The Byzantine Catholic Church recognizes the importance of both the body and the soul and the relationship between them. It is a visceral, experiential way of life which emphasizes beauty, mystery, and a poetic knowledge of the Faith. This aligns beautifully with the educational philosophies of Maria Montessori and John Senior, who were both Catholic themselves.
Are we in communion with Rome?
"From the First Millennium, Christians of the Byzantine tradition have referred to themselves as "Orthodox Christians". Byzantine Catholics are Orthodox Christians who embrace full communion with the Church of Rome and its primate, Pope Francis, the successor of St. Peter, the first among the Apostles. Sadly, however, the break in communion between the Orthodox East and the Catholic West of 1054 still affects us today, as our communion with Rome means we are not in full communion with our mother Orthodox Church. We pray for the day when the Churches will again be one."
Who was John Senior?
John Senior was a scholar and professor at the University of Kansas. He, along with Franklin Nelick and Dennis Quinn, began the Integrated Humanities program there, which encouraged a poetic, experiential knowledge of the Good, the True, & the Beautiful and resulted in many converts to the Catholic Faith.
The Death of Christian Culture and
The Restoration of Christian Culture are well loved; these and his lesser known and unpublished short work The Restoration of Innocence: the Idea for a School were guiding influences for Gregory the Great Academy, St. Martin's Academy, Wyoming Catholic College, and for St. Anthonys'.
As Patrick Martin, a former student of Senior's, says in his tribute to Senior, "He had the vision of an eagle looking down upon earth. He could see the beauty of life in all its detail. He could teach us to seek the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in a palpable way that made us long for it, as Odysseus longed for Ithaca. His teaching was, moreover, experiential, by example, living as best he could the love for tradition that he taught."
He taught his students to embrace Beauty, to pursue Truth, and to act in accordance with the Good.
Who was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori was a doctor (the first woman to become a doctor in Italy), scientist, researcher, and a devout Catholic. She specialized in psychiatry and research in education, spending years observing how children learn best.
Her philosophy of education is essentially Catholic; it elevates the dignity of the human person above the rigor of the curriculum, asks for each student to strive for virtue & exercise self-control, and emphasizes the importance of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness.
Popes have condoned Montessori education as the most Catholic of all educational philosophies, and even suggested that all Catholic schools should be Montessori schools.
“It is possible to see a clear analogy between the mission of the Shepherd of the Church and that of the prudent and generous Montessori directress - who with tenderness and love knows how to discover and bring to light the most hidden virtues and capacities of the child.”
~Pope Saint John the XXIII
Must our children be vaccinated to attend?
We believe that the decision to vaccinate lies is a personal family decision that lies with the parents.
Children vaccinated and unvaccinated are welcome at St. Anthonys'.
What is your technology policy?
- All families and students agree to abide by the no technology policy for the duration of the student's enrollment in St. Anthonys'.
- We want our students to be actively engaged with the real world around them, speaking with their fellow students & teachers, & developing healthy brains. We also want to guard against the invasive onslaught of pornography. To this end, technology (screens of any type) in the classroom is limited to the occasional video demonstration (for example, a YouTube clip) shown by the teacher to the class.
- Students are not allowed access to any phones, tablets, televisions, video games or computers at any time during school hours or functions, including when traveling in vehicles, and are not allowed to own phones, tablets, or computers themselves.
- In situations where it is not a distraction from the class, and it may be pleasant to listen to music while working, music (classical or folk) may be played by the teacher over a radio or phone. Students are not allowed to touch the device or tamper with the music in any way.
- when traveling in vehicles of teachers, classical or folk music or appropriate classics on audio book may be played.
We hope to have famliies join SAA who are aligned with our mission & cheerfully embrace a severe limitation of technology in the lives of our students, families who are happy to put aside phones, tablets, computers, video games or any social media accounts for the good of the student. We ask that families encourage their students to spend their time engaging with people, nature, and in healthy activities and that any screen time be had on the weekend and as a family, such as a family movie night.
"For desire of the real to rise up, there must be something real to arouse it, and gadgets, computers, and gimmicks used to hold attention, all taking place in the classroom environments technologically insulated from reality, are simply parts of the generally unlovable atmosphere of modern education - unlovable because they are all efficiency, utility, and no longer beautiful." - James S. Taylor, Poetic Knowledge
What is your homework policy?
We want our students to have time to play, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the world around them after spending the day at school.
We have no homework other than some moderate reading assignments.
If there are no exams or numerical grades, how will I know how my student is doing?
A focus on exams and grades alters the way students learn, making learning a means to an end rather than a good in itself. This contributes to a view of school as a necessary evil on the road to commercial success rather than a joyful discovery that forms the soul. In addition, student anxiety over grades and exams is on the rise nationwide, contributing significantly to the teenage suicide epidemic.
Rather than exams and grades, at SAA Parent - Teacher discussions & progress reports will be scheduled for three times a year, with a written overall assessment for the parent at the end of the year.
The child (with the parent present) may also receive feedback on her work and how she is doing - once a semester, or more often if the student is ill prepared or not doing his/her best.
Emphasis is placed on honest, diligent work to the best of one's ability and the excitement of discovery.
Although we have no regular exams throughout the year, we are partnering with Classical Learning Test (CLT) to assess the students at the beginning of each year and to mark their progress at the end of each year. We will not be "teaching to the test"; we believe our students will excel because they are learning how to think and they love learning. Through the CLT, parents can also see how their students are doing compared with other students across the nation.
The Classic Learning Test (CLT) is the new standard for college entrance assessments. It is designed for high school juniors and seniors. The CLT takes two hours, and tests for grammar, literary comprehension, and mathematical and logical reasoning; it also contains an optional, ungraded essay portion.
The CLT10 is the official preparatory exam for the CLT. It is designed for high school freshmen and sophomores. The exam takes two hours and tests for the similar content as the CLT, at an age-appropriate level and with fewer questions of the highest difficulty.
The CLT8 is an assessment designed for 8th grade students preparing for high school. Some high schools administer the CLT8 as an entrance exam, and it can also be used to monitor academic progress (both individual and school-wide) for 7th and 8th graders. The exam takes two hours and tests for grammar, literary comprehension, and mathematical and logical reasoning.
What is your uniform/dress code policy?
What one wears influences how one thinks and feels. We dress in uniform and look sharp because we want to have sharp minds, and we want to show respect for the school, our work, one another, and ourselves. We also present as a unified, dignified, respectable group when in public.
Specific uniform requirements will be posted on the website.
Girls may wear lip gloss & nail polish, but no other make-up.
If a student arrives at school out of uniform or in violation of the dress code, he or she will be given something to wear for the day and issued with a fine of $5.00 per dress code violation.
How do Montessori's ideas for middle school differ from conventional middle school?
"Montessori for middle school...takes the developmental age of 12-18 in mind. There are many ways in which the adolescent is different than the elementary child in both their body and their mind.
Puberty is one obvious difference. Children grow rapidly, have new hormones in their bodies, and new drives to contend with.
What is less obvious is their new outlook on the world. Suddenly they begin to see social circles and the way that communities are constructed. They begin to ask questions like “Where did we come from?” and “Where do I fit in?” Montessori called the 12-18 year-olds “Social Newborns” for this very reason.
These two factors cause a whole slew of issues. Suddenly, the young child now views himself as an adult. He struggles with inner turmoil and anxiety about his place in the world while at the same time is driven to make deeper connections with peers. Social drives conflict with academic drives. This can add up to conflict with families who still view the child as…well, a child.
Educating the Adolescent
Montessori for middle school takes into consideration this transformation that is happening within the child. It provides rigorous academics, as adult-like in quality as possible, while giving equal regard to their exploration of society. Montessori believed it was best if the child was able to separate from the family, create a micro-society, and explore different roles until the transition calmed down. Here are some of the basic principles of educating the adolescent—and in particular the middle school student:
Ideally, students live and study away from the family. There are only a few boarding Montessori middle schools in the world, but these are intended to give students space in which to grow into their adult selves. Other Montessori middle schools try to give students as many “odysseys” away from family life as possible.
Students are in charge of their environments and are given opportunities for practical work that accompany their academic studies. For example, rather than reading about the four stomachs of ruminants, they may actually raise some cows, or goats, or sheep. Then their studies include both the biology to learn about the animal as well as the work it takes to care for one.
Similar to elementary, academic lessons should provide materials to work with their hands as much as their minds. There are much fewer “Montessori” materials at the adolescent age because Maria Montessori died at the very beginning of the 12-18 work. However, materials are most commonly found in organic ways such as the microscope to view animal cells, wooden tiles to manipulate algebra equations, and the shovel when cleaning a stall.
Ideally, the environment is still prepared and students are given large blocks of work time with multiple ages. This tenant has proven to be challenging for many middle schools as state standards require testing for individual subjects. But, the transition to integrate subjects and provide large work cycles is improving all the time.
Specialists and professionals are often brought into the classroom. Students are often brought to them. Experience with the adult world is paramount to their motivation to learn. They are constantly asking themselves “How will learning this help me?” Montessori for middle school attempts to answer this question by connecting their learning to the adult-world.
An understanding of the needs of the social newborn are worked into the plan of study. This means that time for reflection is set aside so students can slow down and process their learning: physically, socially and academically. Conflict resolution is intentional and guided as students “bump up” against each other in their practice of society. Wellness is incorporated in their daily lives whether it is physical activity, meditation, or creative expression.
And finally, the family and local community are very much a part of the process. The students reach out to volunteer in their community. Families are brought into the school to participate and educate each other on their child’s new development."
What are the major challenges & needs of the adolescent, according to Dr. Montessori?
"The period of adolescence has been compared by Dr. Maria Montessori to the first plane of development. She identified both as periods of great transformation, physically and mentally.
Task commitment and concentration continue to be of great importance to the Montessori Adolescent. Her psychic development is to articulate a personal vision. The adolescent’s motto is “Help me to think for myself.” This requires time for solitude and personal reflection, as well as a time for dialogue with her teacher(s) and within a circle of peers.
The major characteristics or “ages” of early adolescence are these:
The focus of the adolescent is on camaraderie, fellowship, companionship and teammates. Peer relationships are crucial and the peer group is the adolescent’s first priority. They need to identify.
- Critical Thinking
The adolescent mind turns from elementary thoughts of the universe toward themselves and their group. Adolescents need to know how they feel and what they want. They need to draw conclusions, listen and synthesize. They need adults to listen to their reasoning. They need to be empowered to seek solutions and to discuss their conclusions.
- Boundless Energy
The adolescent’s vital force has a special intensity. It can burn out of control – but if channeled, it can move mountains. The adolescent has an astonishing capacity to work and an unquenched thirst for adventure and self-discovery.
- Sexual Maturation
The adolescent feels challenged to understand what is expected of him or her as an adult.
The adolescent confronts and deals with human nature in a very unique way, confronting powerful dilemmas, mysterious forces and contradictions of life.
The major “needs” of the Montessori adolescent are these:
They need to work.
They need to be challenged.
They need to be empowered.
They need the earth (land).
They need to build community.
They need to develop a personal vision."
- from http://www.mariamontessorischool.org/environments/middle-school/
Do you plan to add a high school program?
Yes, we would like to add a 15-18 year old class in the 2021-22 school year.
We will be developing the curriculum in the summer of 2020, after which it will begin to go up on our website.
Are you a full-day, 5 day a week school?
Yes. We operate from 8:15 am to 3:15 pm Moday - Friday.
We are a complete educational program.
Why are you called Saint Anthonys?
We have taken two saints for our patrons - St. Anthony the Great and St. Anthony of Padua.
What is the tutorial system?
As students work on their individual work plans for math and writing during the academic work period, they are pulled aside individually or in pairs by tutors who will assist and assess them, giving them new lessons and instruction as needed.
Is there a precedent for your program?
Not exactly, but our program is a merging of
- John Senior's Idea for a School, exemplified in Gregory the Great Academy, St. Martin's Academy, and Wyoming Catholic College
- Maria Montessori's philosophy, of which there are many examples in Montessori schools all over the world
- Monastic education, of which there are many examples throughout history
- the Oxford tutorial system, which has been used for centuries
What is unprecedented to our knowledge is the combination of these various successful models, which is our goal. We are excited about the birth of this new educational model.
Are you a classical school?
We are a classical school, leading our students through the Trivium, Quadrivium, and Great Books, engaging in Socratic discussion, and respecting the developmental stages of the human person.
We, however, do not believe that this involves sitting rigidly in desks all day, doing hours of homework evenings and weekends, or laboring through a "rigorous" program. We believe that we were designed for what has come to be called classical education, and that we were made to be curious, creative, and joyful in our learning.
Our reading is done primarily in community, as it was traditionally done in monastaries, and it is followed by Socratic discussion of the eternal questions that arise, but much of our learning comes through experience of the real rather than just reading about the real.
Where is your school located?
We are located just 10 minutes from downtown Dallas and 5 minutes from the University of Dallas.
Although Montessori and Senior both talk of farm programs in the countryside, not everyone can or wants to live in the countryside. We would like to develop the ideas of these great educators for an urban environment, calling city-dwellers to connect to the earth, the seasons, beauty, and real life within the polis.
At present we are working on building a designated classroom on our property while working on raising money for a building.