ACE utilizes a solid curriculum model that has been time-tested for centuries. The classical education model is a curriculum that works well for children at all intellectual levels. In 1947, Dorothy Sayers, a pioneer in the return to classical education, observed, “although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ‘subjects,’ we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think.” Beyond subject matter, classical education develops those skills in students that are essential in higher education and throughout life-independent scholarship, critical thinking, logical analysis, and a love for learning. Students who are intellectually talented will respond to this curriculum model by moving quickly through materials and requiring extensive work on the part of the teacher to extend the learning. Students who may face academic challenges will find that the organization and structure of the curriculum, its ability to build skill upon skill, helps the learner gain skills as they progress.
The Founders of ACE believe that the classical education curriculum has stood the test of time and has contributed to the greatest thinkers in the world. A classical education introduces students to the tools of learning and provides them with the experiences to master those tools with the end result being students who know how to learn as to better understand well as why learning is important.
Lawrence J. Peter, teacher and author, wrote, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” The classical education curriculum enables students to study the past in great depth so that they have a better understanding of how to maneuver the future. Further, by reading and studying the great literature of the world, students develop the ability to have the “great conversations” that classical education headmaster and author, Dr. Christopher Perrin, describes. Through the readings, writing and discussions, students develop the skills to not only parse the words but analyze the meanings and extrapolate beliefs and ideas for future use.
The Academy for Classical Education focuses on instructional techniques that enhance learning opportunities for all of its students by hiring teachers who are not only qualified but who are interested in teaching in a style that encourages students to actively participate in the process of learning. ACE specifically looks at teacher qualifications and experience, but in addition, gives preference to teachers with specific certification types such as gifted endorsement, reading endorsement or the AP endorsements. ACE also recognizes that teachers must fundamentally form strong relationships with their students regardless of the grade so class sizes are kept low from Kindergarten to 5th grade and increase only slightly in grades 6th and up. Experienced educators know quantitatively and qualitatively that their ability to help students learn and grow diminishes as class sizes increase. ACE believes that through the use of class size waivers, ACE teachers will be able to form positive relationships with students in their class and impact those students educationally because the class sizes will be capped at each level from kindergarten through high school. In addition, through the use of a blended learning delivery model, students will be able to utilize a variety of technology to support the learning process as well as to encourage communication among students, teachers, parents, peers and external resources.
As a charter school, ACE enjoys the luxury of being an autonomous entity that can develop a vision for the educational needs of its students based on research, and then follow that plan consistently. The leadership of ACE believes this will set ACE as a charter school apart from its traditional public school cousins. Enabling ACE to develop its students in one setting from Kindergarten to graduation provides the time, structure and relationships that foster growth and academic excellence. Further, having a K-12 school, ultimately fosters an investment in all ACE students by their teachers. Teachers in the lower grades have the opportunity to see their students grow and learn over a period of several years, ultimately graduating from high school. This investment is shared by all teachers involved.