Welcome to the Catholic Liberal Arts Education Page!
Here you will find informational resources and descriptions of The High School of Saint Thomas More's discernment and possible transition to a classical education curriculum, including posts from our principal, Sister M. Bridget Martin, from our weekly newsletter and frequently asked questions.
In an ideal world, we would hold informational meetings to tell parents more about this model and answer questions. However, living in the midst of a pandemic, we are unable to do that. Therefore, we are going to begin also including a link for parents or students to ask questions for us to address as time goes on. Here is that link.
We want to be as transparent and inclusive as possible with our parents, students, and staff regarding the steps we are taking, and many topics relating to this curriculum were discussed during our Virtual Fall Preview Night, which was held on October 21, 2020.
Overall, the purpose of The High School of Saint Thomas More is to form disciples of Christ. To further this mission, we have been exploring a Catholic liberal arts curriculum, also known as a classical education curriculum, which seeks to form the student holistically-spiritually, morally, intellectually, and physically. This proven pedagogy has been used for two millennia as its greatest strength is to orient teaching around the timeless transcendentals of truth, knowledge, goodness, and beauty.
The High School of St. Thomas More has been working closely with the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools to research the Catholic liberal arts education model. Based on guidance from the Chancery and the Office of Catholic Schools, it is our sincere hope to be able to hire a professional education consulting firm which focuses exclusively on conducting feasibility studies for Catholic schools. This process is a critical step for planning and determining the readiness of the school to move forward with a possible transition to a classical education model. The goals of the feasibility study will be to better understand all aspects of the 'what and how' this transitioning to a Catholic liberal arts curriculum may look, including the level of interest and identifying any potential problems that could occur during its implementation.
If approval is received from the diocesan level to move forward, the next step would be to interview and select a consulting firm. Further details and information about the process, timelines, and data collection methods would be shared with our school community at that time.
Please continue to keep this good effort in your prayers as we discern and plan for the spiritual formation and academic excellence which have been hallmarks at The High School of Saint Thomas More. May we always be a school where Jesus Christ is known, loved, and served.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact the school at 217.352.7210.
Yours in Christ,
The Administration of The High School of Saint Thomas More
The Importance of a Catholic Education
It’s no secret that Catholic education is in dire need of renewal. Catholic schools across the country have been suffering with regard to enrollment for some time now. Below are two of the principal reasons we have a crisis in Catholic education.
1. Catholic Schools Have Forgotten Their Mission
Desiring to be more competitive with public schools, many Catholic schools have focused all their energy on improving the non-faith-based aspects of the school. Forgetting that the best education is one that integrates all aspects of the human person - body, mind, and soul - they abandon their adherence to the Faith to focus on mere information-giving and test-taking.
2. We Are Too Career-Oriented
Both parents and schools base their decisions on future collegiate and career success. “How can my child best be positioned for success in the workplace?” But is that really the ultimate consideration? To have a child with a great job but poor human formation is hardly something to shoot for. To send them into our modern college environment ill-equipped to deal with the moral and spiritual challenges that lurk there is grave negligence.
Our school is committed to avoiding both of the pitfalls enumerated above. Our vision is to provide students with a classical, liberal arts education that is deeply committed to a vibrant Catholic culture and identity.
For more information, check out this short article.
Q: Will Catholic liberal arts education help my child prepare for college and a possible career in a STEM fields?
A: One common question that comes up when talking about a classical or Catholic liberal arts Education is about compatibility with STEM fields in college and beyond. Here is a short article giving some specifics on why this type of education is actually most beneficial to those going into the STEM fields.
Q: What kind of education do we offer now, and why transition?
A: This a great question! It is most certainly helpful for you to know that in order to understand our reasonings for the shift. Countless Catholic schools in America have accepted secular education with the addition of theology or religion class as a Catholic education. While we do try to be more intentional at The High School of Saint Thomas More in integrating the Faith in all that we do, we would say we have been fighting this balance, as well. We have spread our teachers so thin with our course offerings that some are teaching four, five, or six different classes each day, just to offer more classes. We have lost sight of the main purpose of our school, which is to put our students in relationship with Jesus. Our aim is to help our students become the young men and women God has called them to be, and to be active members of the Church and the community. We deeply desire this for each and every one of our students, and wholeheartedly believe that a more well-rounded and holistic education is the best way to get there.
Q: What are some core principles of Catholic education?
A: To answer this question, we would would like to highlight a little book called "The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools," which was published in 2006 by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. The book itself costs just under $5 and is a quick read.
In this text, Miller writes that the Holy See has laid out its “Five Essential Marks of Catholic Schools” as such:
A Catholic school should be:
- Inspired by a supernatural vision;
- Founded on Christian anthropology;
- Animated by communion and community;
- Imbued with a Catholic worldview throughout its curriculum;
- And sustained by gospel witness.