Louisville Classical Academy    Porter     Stevenson

The Importance of Community

posted Jan 11, 2019, 6:39 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Jan 11, 2019, 6:40 AM ]

By Joanne Fairhurst

Teacher of Latin and Greek

I have been teaching at LCA for four years.  What strikes me most is its atmosphere of community and support.  I was a late-bloomer—I hated high school, the rote memorization, the dull teachers.  There was no intellectual spark, no teachers spurring me on. In fact, at graduation, I had no intention of even going to college.  To this day, I have not taken the SAT (though the GRE came later). I was profoundly missing something, and that was inspiration and support.  It didn't come until I finally did enroll in our local community college and met an energetic and ebullient professor who started every class with an entry from The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy on the chalkboard, exhorting us again and again of the great ideas and thinkers “You should know this!!!”  He wanted to instill a spark in each of us. And those of us who listened were illuminated.

That only continued as I transferred to College of Charleston where I started taking Latin I in the hopes of improving my grammar (oh boy, did it!), but I also discovered my love for etymology, how words come together.  It was also here that I fell hook, line, and sinker for Classics. Their Classics department was small, but it was composed of the most encouraging professors one could ever hope for. The head of the department, Daryl Phillips, and the rest of the department are the principal reasons for my being a classicist today.  They went above and beyond to create an intellectual community—Dr Phillips’ lectures on Greek and Roman history were kinetic and exciting. He encouraged us to apply for scholarships, submit academic papers and study abroad, and he would spend all of his time trying to make that happen.

When I decided, rather late in the graduation game, to add a Classics major to my History degree, one of my professors met with me during the summer so I could finish Athenaze II and then the following summer another professor offered to meet with me to read Plato’s Apology—all so that I would be able to graduate in time with a Classics degree.   To the professors in that little department, our success was everything and they gave us everything to help us succeed.

I see that same support, energy, selflessness in our school here.  How Mrs. Stevenson just grabbed my Latin II kids from my class the other day so they could see a dissected frog (so cool!) or the way that Mr. Boyd makes every single kid in school light up like a light bulb.  I feel that way when I see my AP Latin kids, who have just performed the spectacular feat of finishing Wheelock’s Latin.  They have an almost perfect command of twelve different types of subjunctive uses, passive periphrastics, ablative absolutes, tenses, supines, gerundives.  They rattle off Latin words and meanings rapid fire. They have worked so incredibly hard and they have so much to show for it. Now, these AP Latin students, armed with all they learned in Wheelock’s, are starting Caesar’s Gallic Wars, unadulterated and as the Romans read him.  I get a glimmer of what those professors saw—the excitement to see a student’s hard and sustained work pay off and of helping, in whatever little way, the students reach that point.  It is this community—a supportive, familial, loving, friendly, academic, philosophical, inquisitive community—that reminds me of the golden days of my college career. Oh, that I had had this school when I was a child!

And You Wonder Why I'm Still Working?

posted Dec 5, 2018, 8:05 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 8:23 AM ]

By Dr. Laurie Duesing

Latin teacher

I am seasoned teacher.  My first instructional position was teaching English in a high school in California’s Central Valley.  For the following thirty years (and several more), I was a full-time member of a community college Humanities Division, teaching composition, literature and creative writing.  After finishing my PhD, I did a postdoc teaching year at UC Davis. When I moved to Louisville in 2006, I enrolled in the Classical Languages Program at U of L, pursuing an avid interest in studying Latin.  In my 2nd year at U of L, I began tutoring Latin in the Reach Program.  Shortly thereafter, I was hired to teach a single Latin class at Louisville Classical Academy at its former Highway 42 campus.  Eventually, U of L hired me to teach Beginning Latin on a part-time basis, which I did for seven years.

Now, I am again teaching at Louisville Classical Academy.  Why? It isn’t money. I have the good fortune to be a recipient of the benefits of the State Teachers Retirement System of California.   Admittedly, part of the impetus was the decimation of the Classical Languages Program at U of L. (That program now consists of one faculty member who teaches all the remaining Latin and Greek offerings.)  I subsequently contacted Mrs. Proietti and asked to come back as an instructor at the Academy, should there be a class that I might teach.  I remain honored and grateful that I am again a staff member.

Here’s why. . .  I have never been in another educational setting whose mission I so completely upheld.  Louisville Classical Academy’s embrace of “enduring literature and the timeless tools of Latin” speaks not only to my mind, but also to my heart.  Its goal of cultivating “intelligent habits of mind” has been my chief purpose in all my teaching over the years. I’ve seen such goals touted by other schools in which I’ve taught.  The difference is that it is not vacuous empty rhetoric here: The Academy, as an institution, means it and does it.

There are other perks that stoke my enthusiasm for my work at the Academy.  My fellow-instructors have been universally collegial and supportive. Their dedication, intelligence, and impressive competence make me proud to be a faculty member.  For example, Dr. Reed offered to guest lecture in my Advanced Literature class about her experiences in Nigeria. (We were reading a Nigerian novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.)   She arrived with props, videos, and engaging commentary which illuminated the novel for the class and the teacher.  Recently, I had the opportunity to substitute for Ms. Fairhurst in her Latin class, and her lesson plan was stunningly thorough and exciting.  Consequently, I plan to adopt at least two teaching techniques in use with her students. Furthermore, Mrs. Proietti has always been available to me (and helpful) if I have a query or concern about my teaching duties or my students.

While the academic support system at the Academy is imposing, there are other ‘nitty-gritty’ factors which facilitate my ability to do my job.  There are supplies! The Xerox machine works! When I taught at U of L in the Modern and Classical Languages Department, the Xerox machine was outdated and quirky.  I never counted on it being operative; thus, before my classes, I would swing by the UPS store on Broadway to duplicate my handouts. (Even if the U of L Xerox machine might be in working condition, there might not be a paper supply.)  The first day I taught at U of L, I asked the administrative assistant for chalk. Looking dismayed, she went to the supply cabinet and handed me a bunch of white pebbles. (That was the chalk supply!) After that, I carried my own chalk and magic markers to class.  

    Furthermore, Bridget Kolb has been the most ideal secretary/ administrative assistant/go-to person I’ve encountered in my professional life.  She taught me the ins-and-outs of our Xerox machine and rescued me when I botched efforts at duplication. One day (just one day) when the Xerox machine was inoperative, Mrs. Kolb asked me if I had handouts to duplicate.  I did, but told her I could write the material on classroom’s whiteboard. She took my handouts, went to other campus, duplicated my assignments and worksheets and delivered them to my classroom!   A couple weeks ago one of the bathroom stalls in the women’s room was locked from the inside. After I mentioned this to Mrs. Kolb, she, with scissors in hand, strode into the bathroom and jimmied the lock free.  (At U of L, on the 3rd floor there was one uni-sex bathroom for an entire wing of faculty offices.  For some bizarre reason this bathroom became locked from the inside with a dead-bolt.  It was three days before it was opened and available for use.)

There have been other benefits.  Dr. Reed walked into my classroom and delivered an Academy I.D. card to me.  I was slightly short of astonished, remembering that I had tried to secure an I.D. at U of L –but was foiled twice by the fact that the camera was out of film.  I taught there seven years with no I.D. One last tribute: a little over year ago during Academy’s Christmas break, I had a hip-joint replacement. Two weeks later, I was completely ambulatory but not allowed to drive for another three days.  Dr. Proietti drove by my home, picked me up and delivered me to the Academy for those three days. I certainly could have arranged other transportation but remain grateful for the chauffeuring (and the engaging conversation in the jeep).

When imagining the duties of a teacher, I believe most people (and concerned parents) think about the competence of a teacher and the ability to convey knowledge to the students.  But there is so much more than goes into a teacher’s ability to deliver “the educational goods.” In every educational setting I’ve been in, I’ve worked with good students—sometimes exceptional students.  But never in any other setting have I had the boon of such consistently cooperative, capable and energetic students.  I have worked under fine administrators, in buildings that were well maintained, with supportive colleagues, and worthy students—but never all four at once.  I have all of that here at the Academy, and I consider myself most fortunate.

Learning to Grow and Growing to Learn

posted Oct 29, 2018, 3:35 AM by Louisville Classical Academy

By Kelly Stevenson

Science Teacher

    As teachers, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that much learning happens outside the classroom. Because of this, I count myself very lucky to have the opportunity to garden with students at LCA. Through my years here, I have worked with students at both campuses to grow food in raised bed gardens. The benefits of this experience to children are many.

    At the most superficial level, it is an excuse to get kids outside and interacting with the natural world. The act of digging in the dirt is not a given for children in our world today, and I think there is immense value in that closeness to the earth. Studies have shown that a close connection with nature in childhood does more to promote conservation ethics as an adult than classroom instruction about conservation. Having first-hand experience with the wonder of nature is the most important factor in wanting to protect that nature.

    Many important science lessons can be learned at an intuitive level through trying to make things grow. Students learn about the cycles of nature and the timing of plants’ growth in relation to the seasons. Students experience first hand the life cycles of plants and what “ingredients” are necessary for a good harvest. They have to apply ideas like competition for resources as they avoid overcrowding. Students have also been confronted with the fact that not all insects are helpful as we pull pests off our food AND that not all insects are bad as we encourage spiders and pollinators.  

    Students also learn a variety of important lessons specifically when growing food to eat. Many people in our country are completely divorced from the source of their food. Ask many U. S. students what they know about where food comes from, and you are likely to get an argument about Kroger vs. Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe’s. (I actually witnessed this argument in one of my classes this year!) The chance to see where food originates, as well as the work that goes into producing it, is invaluable in making people value good food.

    Studies have also shown that having students grow their own food encourages them to make healthier food choices. Through the years of working with students in LCA’s garden, I have seen many students willing to try something just because they grew it. I have heard students say things like, “I don’t like tomatoes, but maybe I will try one of these,”  and “I have never eaten a radish before, but I will give it a try.” I have seen rooms full of students joyfully enjoying fresh salads. I have had parents tell me that their student had never willingly eaten a salad before, and be amazed that that same student came back for seconds of our homegrown salad!

    To me, gardening with students is nothing short of magical. I get such joy out of watching students enjoy the opportunity to get dirty and use a hose, and seeing the pleasure and amazement they get from watching food “appear” after all their work. It does my heart good to watch them eat local, organic produce and get pleasure out of the pure taste of good food. I hope I never have to give up this aspect of my work at LCA.

To lead, to drive, to do

posted Sep 20, 2018, 9:26 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Sep 20, 2018, 9:29 AM ]

by Mith Barnes
Teacher of many subject, grades 4-12

Students tend to like solid, concrete, specific answers. Or, more accurately, they like to know, solidly, concretely, and specifically what answers I want from them. They rarely get them, however, and that’s a good thing. Take the Latin verb agere. Our students learn this verb early in their Intro Latin, and it throws them. It throws them because it can mean so many things: to lead, to drive, to do, to plow, to pass time, and a hundred other shaded variations. There is simply not a solid, concrete, specific answer to what the verb means that can be plugged in every time. “But how do we know when it means which thing?” they inevitably complain. That’s the beauty of Latin, though. While it demands meticulous attention to every letter and every syllable, at the same time, it defies specificity precisely because so many words in Latin mean so many things. I tell them they need to look at the rest of the sentence, or even the rest of the passage, to determine what the verb agere is doing in this particular sentence. In other words, students need to look at context to find meaning. They need to infer, interpret, choose the best meaning in this instance, and in every instance. If there’s a better reason to teach Latin (or any foreign language), I can’t think of one.

That idea, though, isn’t just vital for teaching languages. It is very much at the heart of how I approach teaching at LCA. History students, for example, want to know precise definitions for the ‘terms and concepts’ we study each week, or exactly what will be on the next quiz, verbatim if possible. I don’t give them that, because while memorization is useful in some contexts, it doesn’t lead to real understanding of a topic. I don’t want my students to be able to recite, by rote, ‘three factors that led to the Civil War,’ or ‘Florence was important to the Renaissance because A, B, and C.’ That isn’t understanding. Like any set of facts crammed into one’s skull for the current test, those will be lost the moment the test is over.

Don’t get me wrong; facts matter. Facts, as we have perhaps never been more aware, matter a great deal. Study of the Civil War will have no meaning whatsoever if you don’t also know when, where, and by whom it was fought. But that’s not enough. There’s a meme floating around the internet that says “Knowledge is knowing Frankenstein wasn’t the monster. Wisdom is understanding that Frankenstein was the monster.”  It’s one thing to know the details of the plot (or the historical moment), but something else altogether to understand what they mean. Facts alone don’t make understanding.

Students must, as with the elusive agere, look at the context to find meaning. Having knowledge on which to draw is crucial to being able to establish that context, but the facts themselves are not understanding. Rather than telling me just the names and dates of battles, I want them to tell me why this battle was fought, why it mattered to the people who fought it, what was important enough to fight for. It’s nowhere near as easy as memorizing key facts they can drill on Quizlet and then plunk them down like prefab houses onto a quiz (and they don’t fail to remind me of that). It takes thought, it takes interpretation, it even demands they take a stand sometimes. It’s not as easy, but they are much more likely to remember that process and that understanding long after many of those memorized facts have been lost to the next set of data. That is also how they can come out of History class knowing not only something about history, but something about what it means to be human, something about what is important enough to fight for, and maybe even something about themselves.


posted Sep 10, 2018, 8:22 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Sep 10, 2018, 8:23 AM ]

by Amanda Proietti

Academic Dean

    As we are three weeks into the school year, parents have been gaining a sense of their child's homework expectations and the kinds of assignments they will be bringing home.  Helping students with organizing and managing these assignments is something parents can certainly do, and we'd like to suggest some ways that you can that most effectively.

For primary-school students

    In the primary school, homework is fairly limited.  Whatever work is assigned is designed to allow for additional practice in areas that need repetition, such as math and spelling, and to allow students to develop the expectation of homework and a rhythm for completing it.  Teachers generally want students to complete this work on their own as much as possible, and if they are experiencing any difficulty, parents should let teachers know.

    Parents can help by asking to see completed work, making sure that all work returns to its proper folder and then to the backpack.  Parents can also help by calling out spelling words and sharing their own tricks for remembering spelling. If your child needs some help with math, ask her to explain the problem and the process to you.  That in itself can help illuminate the problem. Work a sample or similar problem with your child, step by step, and let your child then complete the assigned problem on his own, as much as possible. Help your child clarify what his confusion is, if he remains confused, so that he can ask the teacher a specific question the next day.

For older students: math and Latin

    On the Douglass campus, students will have homework in math and Latin during the week.  Again, these are the subjects that require the most repetition and daily practice, and even if your child claims that she has no homework, there is probably an expectation that she will study math and Latin.  

    Studying math usually means reworking problems done in class that day or working the sample problems from the text without looking at the solution first.  This is the best math-studying strategy, and I hope you will encourage your child to use it. Another excellent practice is to have your child work as far as he or she can with a problem, and if he can’t quite solve it, have him write down what is stumping him there on the homework paper.  Verbalizing the problem is very useful for the student and for the teacher, and your child will have a helpful starting place the next day in class—asking the question.

    An excellent strategy for helping your child with languages is to have her teach you the language.  Even if you have had Latin, let your child explain the concepts to you. We often don’t understand something until we teach it, so be your child’s student as often as you can.  Help your child create flashcards and study lists and call out the spelling words. Your active participation will help.

Staying organized

    Help your child with organization.  Remember that we use a pouch system at the Douglass campus to help keep class materials together, so Latin materials should always go in the purple pouch, science in the green pouch, etc.  Encourage that everything-in-its-place mentality at home. The younger they are, the less we encourage multi-tasking, so one pouch comes out at a time, finish the work, put everything back in its place, and into the backpack.  

    Help your child form the very helpful habit of making lists.  At home, provide a white board—not too small, but not necessarily a large wall-mounted model.  At the beginning of the weekend, go through your child’s agenda with him and write or have him write down all homework assignments.  Then have him add all other obligations or expectations for the weekend, including chores, thank-you notes, sports events, piano practice—everything.  Then work through the list. It is important that your child check off what has been completed or accomplished. Remember, the younger your child, the more you will need to verify that the work has been completed.  “Show me your Blue Book. Yes, I see it’s complete. Into the pouch and into the backpack. Check.” You might have to do this for a while until your child can do it independently. Some will need this support through middle school.  Some are independent in grammar school. Let’s work with what is rather than ought to be. If you have a child who needs homework support, please give it and gradually withdraw as you see independence developing.

    This is what we mean by homework support—providing help with organization and verification and allowing yourself to be taught.  Some other kinds of help are not so helpful. Fixing mistakes in a paper, for example, is not helpful because no learning happens when you do that.  You can say “You have several spelling mistakes in your first two sentences,” or “I don’t really understand what you are trying to say in this paragraph—can you explain more clearly?”  Those comments are helpful. And if, after you’ve made these comments, your child does not make all the corrections, back away. You can do only so much. Don’t do your child’s projects for her.  Be restrained in the amount of advice or the number of ideas for writing assignments you give. Let your child feel ownership of all her work.

    Some struggles with time management and organization are common and do not necessarily indicate a problem.  These are skills we learn with practice and coaching. We encourage parents to help students cultivate productive work habits and to communicate with teachers (and encourage their children to do the same) when it seems that help from the teacher is needed.  Every LCA teacher is happy to help students overcome obstacles to become the best students they can be.

JCLCA Service

posted May 16, 2018, 9:16 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Sep 20, 2018, 9:29 AM ]

By Althea Porter
Teacher and LCA Kentucky Junior Classical League sponsor

    It has been one of my great pleasures to serve as the sponsor for our local chapter of the Junior Classical League. It’s the thing I do that makes the most sense to me. It’s the thing I do that makes the least sense to others. My fellow JCL sponsors always want to know just how a non-Latin-teaching person got involved with the “Latin Club.” My friends, who are probably much like you, always want to know just what exactly is the JCL?
    The Junior Classical League is a student-run national service organization that seeks to promote the Classics. Students compete in academic testing focused on Greek and Roman History and Latin. At convention, they dress in togas -- toga pura, toga pulla, toga, picta -- is anyone else feeling shocked that kids know the difference? They make Latin puns, Greek puns, Caesar jokes, translate pop songs into Latin, speak to each other in Latin, and just Latin, Latin, Latin! But somewhere in this Latin fray is a small group of students working on a project for veterans, the homeless, or kids in hospitals. These small service projects are not a point of emphasis at convention and are barely acknowledged by the state delegation.

    Sadly, for a majority of the JCL chapters in Kentucky, these very small projects at convention are the only community service that any of them do all year. For LCA, on the other hand, community service is a regular part of our JCL experience. It’s just what we do. Our delegation has completed the most community service in the state of Kentucky for at least 6 years. In 2016, LCA was awarded first place for community service at the National JCL Convention.

    The executive board of the KYJCL tried to encourage other delegations to follow our example and created an annual service award -- the Service Stick -- to be awarded to schools who did the most community service each year. LCA has the proud distinction of being the first school to be awarded this Service Stick. The next year, we were the second school to be awarded the Service Stick. The third year, the board changed the standard and openly pledged to award the Service Stick to any school that did half as much service as LCA. We were the third school to be awarded the Service Stick. This year, we heard a rumor that the board would award the Service Stick to any school who did any service at all. We are the fourth -- and final -- school to be awarded the Service Stick. LCA was also awarded our state’s Spirit Stick as an acknowledgement of all the service we did this year.

    How? Why? How can our humble Academy do so much and why doesn’t it seem like so much? Because it’s not just service that’s being done. It’s a response. It’s a dialogue that is being had between the JCLCA and the community around us. It is a conversation that seeks to include all others. It’s just what we do.

    Some of our service projects this school year have included cleaning a park, sponsoring the LCA food drive, spreading the “JoyCL” with holiday gifts for teachers, and making Valentines for Vets. You can find a more complete list of the JCL service projects here.


posted Mar 30, 2018, 5:37 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Mar 30, 2018, 5:56 AM ]

By Kelsey Castaneda

Second-grade Teacher


    When I first moved back home to Louisville to continue my teaching career, I interviewed at several different schools in the city. Louisville is home to so many different types of schools with different approaches to education, and it was of the utmost importance to me to teach at a school that I felt was making new, exciting, and important leaps in education in our city. LCA’s classical approach to education is already unique to Louisville, especially as this approach is taken at both the upper and lower campuses. But, what is even more important, I think, is that the LCA Primary Program has hands-on science and global studies courses integrated into the core curriculum.


    While many schools do teach elementary students science, LCA teachers take a different approach, allowing students not simply to complete worksheets, but to participate in hands-on activities and experiments. LCA believes it is imperative for students to begin learning research procedures and conducting experiments at a young age. Rather than simply reading about how the amount of sunlight a plant gets affects its growth, LCA third graders conducted an experiment with tomatoes, leaving them under different window seals and observing how the lack of sunlight stunts the growth of one tomato over a couple of days. My second graders were pleased to have Mrs. Kelly Stevenson, science teacher at the upper campus, come over to do a flower dissection experiment, giving them a first-hand look at the different parts of the flower, and how those parts all work together. Our entire Primary Program spent a day at the University of Louisville’s Rauch Planetarium, where they learned all about our solar system’s planets in a virtual reality experience that made them feel like they really were in space.


    Most other schools have some kind of social studies or history courses for elementary students, but those courses usually focus on American history only. LCA students study globally, meaning they start studying not only U.S. history, but also the history and cultures of other countries all around the world from the time that they are in kindergarten.

    My second-grade students, for example,  have had the opportunity to study a plethora of countries and cultures throughout the year. The second-grade curriculum emphasizes Asian cultures, and we have studied China, Japan, India, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and reviewed the biographies of significant leaders of these countries, such as Gandhi and Genghis Khan. We have examined the cultures of these countries and their differences from ours, from language to cuisine and holidays to religions. We do special projects to really help the students understand these new places. LCA teachers have organized everything from Greek feasts to Kamishibai plays, to reenactments of Seneca Falls and the Women’s Suffrage movement. Teaching children about other cultures at a young age encourages an open mind, better understanding, and an inclusive attitude, benefiting them in their future endeavors.


    In addition to this global approach, second graders do learn about American history. We began with America’s rebellion from England, resulting in the establishment of our country. From then on, we examined the Civil War and the importance of figures like Harriet Tubman. It is astounding to hear first-grade students chat about Greek gods and goddesses they've enjoyed learning about during lunchtime or to see kindergarteners pretending to be soldiers in the Revolutionary War during recess time.


    LCA is special for so many reasons. Our curriculum, I think, is one of the critical reasons and really sets our school apart from others in the area. I am so pleased to be teaching at a school that encourages students to think outside the box in all subjects, especially at a young age.


posted Mar 5, 2018, 9:10 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Mar 5, 2018, 9:17 AM ]

By Dewey Kincade

History, Greek, Latin, and Art Teacher

    “What does that mean?”

    That is a favorite question of my three-year old son, Theo.  The question never fails to bring me a smile.  He is busy acquiring the building blocks of meaning--the meanings of words.  These building blocks are the foundations of a great tower of meaning, and as such, he needs his meanings to be clear, concise, and concrete in order to support the weight of this tower.  

    As a teacher, I’m fortunate to be able teach students of all ages.  They are all in one way or another asking what things mean.  At the foundational level, meaning is understood like an equation.  This word equals this definition.  Primary students spend a lot of time at this level.  These students are not ready to take on ambiguity or nuance.  Instead, they need reinforcement.  Word games, puns, and any activity that allows students to assert their knowledge will help build a solid foundation. The foundation should not only be strong; it should also be broad.  Students should be learning as many new words as they can, and finding a book series they like is a great way to do this.  

    As students continue building their tower of meaning, they encounter the interpretive level where = becomes ≅.  Unlike the foundational level, meaning at the interpretive level is not fixed.  A poem can mean a lot of things to different people.  A sentence in Latin can be translated several ways.  This is a challenging time for most students because the very foundation of their tower seems to be in jeopardy.  Whereas before meaning was fixed, now it has become more malleable.  It’s not enough to say what a story means, students must also support their statements. Arguments must be made.  

    This is a great time to engage in debates with your children.  The best way to encourage a child to construct arguments is by having fun debates at home.  Who would win in a matchup between the Hulk and Wolverine?  Who would make a better friend: Elsa or Moana?  Your children will come up with an answer, but make sure they can support their answer with evidence.  One of the challenges with debates is that people expect there to be a winner.  When a child confronts the notion that there may not be a best interpretation (but many good ones), they may take it a step too far and say that any interpretation is valid.  If they do, demand hard evidence for this assertion.  

    The importance of our interpretive abilities cannot be over-emphasized.  We don’t simply apply these skills in language classes like English and Latin, but in history as well.  The past can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Even the sciences provide students with an opportunity to hone their interpretive skills.  Raw data doesn’t always provide us with an obvious conclusion.  Sometimes we must forge ahead by finding the best interpretation of the data.  

    The bulk of middle school and high school is spent exploring the interpretive level of meaning, but lurking around the periphery is an even higher level of meaning--the existential.  What is the meaning of life?  That’s a big one, but what we really mean is: what is the meaning of my life?  As seniors approach the end of their education at LCA, they shift from following the plot to constructing their own plot.  Unfortunately, we can give no answers to the question, what is my life’s purpose?  And I have no advice to parents as their children begin to tackle this question, but I’m confident that students getting an LCA education will acquire the tools to answer the question for themselves, whatever direction they head in.  


posted Feb 9, 2018, 8:19 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Mar 5, 2018, 9:16 AM ]

By Sharlette Cullen

Kindergarten Teacher

    Prior to joining LCA, I taught in the public school system for 18 years, in Georgia and New Jersey. While I have always loved being an elementary teacher, I often felt overwhelmed by large class sizes, extensive state-mandated testing, and mounds of daily paperwork. I moved to Louisville two years ago and serendipity, somehow, led me to become a kindergarten teacher at LCA. Here, I have found my bliss as an educator.

    The nurturing environment, small class size, and extensive curriculum that LCA provides has taught me that I love teaching classical kindergarten.  My students are eager and enthusiastic to learn as much as they can each and every day.  Our daily routine is full of activities to encourage children to be inquisitive, creative, and active.  Whether it be painting, going on a nature walk, re-enacting an explorer’s journey, or engaging in imaginative recess play, my students are active and engaged in all aspects of our kindergarten curriculum.

    We are obsessed with books in our classroom.  Throughout our day, we enjoy picture book, read-alouds, and Magic Tree House chapter books. We listen to books on CDs, explore biographies, savor fairy tales, examine Greek myths, and investigate as many non-fiction texts as possible. I follow the students’ interests and explore, in great detail, the chosen subjects in our curriculum that intrigue them. I am amazed at their ability to absorb new information and acquire new skills. Whenever we read and discuss a text, we model the “shared inquiry” method, encouraging each child to listen, speak, and take turns during our discussion. Their pointed questions often lead to new opportunities for learning.

    Our tightly-knit classroom community allows me to foster kindness, manners, and compassion on a daily basis. With such a small class size at LCA, my kindergartners are able to feel safe to take chances and be as imaginative as possible. They encourage one another and cheer each other on. My students often cite examples of how they follow our class motto: “be the reason someone smiles today.”  I am grateful for the many opportunities I have to smile at my students every day.


posted Jan 9, 2018, 11:44 AM by Louisville Classical Academy   [ updated Mar 5, 2018, 9:15 AM ]

By Dr. Laurie Duesing

English and Latin teacher

    I did not study Latin for any of the right reasons.  I was in the first year of a Ph.D. program in English Literature at UC Davis and attempting to dispatch ‘nattering requirements.’  Among such requirements was proficiency in two foreign languages.  French was my college language, and I dispensed with the requirement quickly.  Now what?  I took a look at a very long list of acceptable languages, and with one exception, three semesters of study were required.  The exception was Latin.  I am a practical woman, and I was also teaching full-time at Solano Community College, which offered two years of Latin in our evening program.  Perfect!  I could teach my classes in the day session and stay on one evening a week for two semesters and fulfill my second language requirement.  I thought, “How hard can it be?”

    My first Latin teacher was Ken Bubb, a former Jesuit priest, who was charismatic, knowledgeable and kind.  Just as we do at Louisville Classical Academy, I started my Latin study with Wheelock’s Latin, and I was almost immediately blindsided for one simple reason: Latin made sense.  Already a seasoned English instructor, I was accustomed to the irregularities, inconsistencies and bewildering plethora of rules (and exceptions) governing English grammar, pronunciation, you name it. . .   I was stunned: Latin was orderly.  It had constant rules.  All I had to do was learn them and apply them, and I could do the homework and translations as if I were a first century Roman.  A few weeks into the semester, Mr. Bubb said, “You can almost count the number of irregular Latin verbs on one hand.”  Astonished, I yelled out, “I’m in!”  

    The clincher came when Mr. Bubb showed a clip from The Gladiator where Russell Crowe is speaking to his troops and utters “Hold the line” and “Stay with me.”  Explaining how this dialogue truly replicated Roman ideals, Mr. Bubb launched into a further exposition of Roman culture.  I was so moved, I wept.  

    So Latin had its way with me.  I fulfilled my second language requirement and made a vow I would study Latin in depth whenever I had some time.  That time finally came when I moved to Louisville and discovered that U of L had an undergraduate minor in Latin.  Since 2007, I have taken every Latin course offered (and more because the Chair of the Department keeps changing the authors in the senior level classes so that I can repeat those classes for credit.).  At last count I had garnered 84 Latin credits.

    The irony in all of this is that I have learned more about English language (my specialty!) from studying Latin.  Latin is the ideal; it shows how a language should operate.  It’s gorgeous rhetorically and poetically.  (To my chagrin, I now believe that Vergil is a poet superior to Shakespeare.)    At the conclusion of every semester at U of L (when I was teaching Latin 101 and 102), one or two or three of my students would come up to me and say, “I understand English now better than I ever did.”  Of course.  Latin is the illuminator, the illustrator, not to mention the firm basis of the English language.  (Percentage estimates range from the low 90s to the 97th percentile.)

    Is it any wonder that Classics majors (more than any other major) invariably perform better on all kinds of graduate school qualifying exams?  This is no surprise to me because graduate entrance exams are language exams.  And Latin is the grand template of them all.  

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