About Us

Message from the Principal

Welcome to Decatur Classical School, a school with a caring staff and a safe and nurturing environment, where high expectations are the standard. At Decatur, we embrace the diversity of our students and are proud of their high academic achievements.

Together as the Decatur family, we must continue to strive for improvements and celebrate our achievements. As the principal, I invite you to contact me if you have concerns, questions or ideas
that will help our school keep its fine reputation.

Susan J. Kukielka

School Mission

The Decatur Classical School learning community helps students assume responsibility, feel self-confident and worthy. Our challenging curriculum allows students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. Individual differences are valued, respected and used as a resource for learning. The ultimate goal is to unlock within each student the ability to think, to create, to freely express and apply ideas that will help students achieve their fullest potential, thus, build a future for all.

What is a Classical Education?

The classical model of education has been around for over two millennia and has produced, among others, Archimedes, St. Paul, St. Patrick and Columba, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Christopher Columbus, Shakespeare, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.

This “retro” approach is used in many charter schools because it is so successful in providing an in-depth, comprehensive education. “Great Books” programs are also based in part on the classical model.

Classical education enjoyed a rebirth primarily due to an essay by Dorothy Sayers in 1947 entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning.” Among other things, she pointed out that the study of Latin is an essential part of this model, because “even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent. It is the key to the vocabulary and structure of all the Teutonic languages, as well as to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literature of the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historical documents.”

First and foremost, the classical model is very different than a traditional “gifted school” model. A classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the upper grade years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium, and at Decatur Classical School, our curriculum runs 1-2 years above grade level and follows the trivium pattern of learning.

The first years of schooling are called the “grammar stage” In the primary years, the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — etc. This information makes up the “grammar,” or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education. This is where the term “grammar school” comes from!

Intermediate students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking “Why?” The second phase of the classical education, the “Logic Stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework. A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic, and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects.

The final phase of a classical education, the “Rhetoric Stage,” builds on the first two. At this point, the student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language.

A classical education follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.

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