Villa Madonna Academy prides itself on the academic challenge and personal growth that begins in the primary grades and continues throughout the intermediate grades. Guided by faculty who are dedicated and skilled in addressing the needs of all learners, VMA students extend their academic foundation and social skills in a caring and comfortable Benedictine environment.
Students receive instruction in each of the core disciplines, including language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and religion, as well as educational opportunities in music, art, physical education, health, foreign language, drama and communication. This curriculum provides a well-balanced educational experience and involves hands-on instruction as well as collaborative learning and lecturing to reinforce subject materials.
The language arts program creates a solid foundation for students in reading and writing, grammar and vocabulary. The reading component includes independent reading, conferences, literature discussion groups, author studies and mini lessons which include making connections to reading, vocabulary, reading for meaning and effective reading discussions. Students correspond with teachers through journals and conferences to assure that they are reading age and ability level appropriate material. Spelling, phonics and vocabulary are included through the use of high-fluency words and a structured spelling program. First graders begin with simple sentences and progress to a structured paragraph with a main idea, supporting details and conclusion by the third grade. Throughout the elementary years, the writing module compliments each component of the reading curriculum. Activities elicit personal responses, creative writing, art projects and discussions. Grammar, strong vocabulary development, and technology are integrated throughout the components. Individual learning styles are met through differentiated instruction. Small class size enables teachers to conference with students on a regular basis and allow teachers to differentiate instruction based on individual learning styles.
The mathematics program focuses on problem-solving through formulas and cross-curriculum activities, exploration, and mathematical communication. Strategies for problem-solving are introduced in the first grade, developed and practiced in the primary grades and further developed and utilized in the intermediate grades. An integral part of the learning process is the review of concepts and procedures in which students use previously learned skills to develop proficiency with more advanced concepts. Students learn to use or look for patterns, make tables and graphs, use logical reasoning skills, create diagrams and/or brainstorm to solve problems.
The World Language program begins in the kindergarten and continues throughout the sixth grade. The levels provide our students with an early introduction to languages using best practices. Starting in kindergarten, students receive one semester exposure to both French and Spanish before choosing one language of study beginning in first grade. The seamless design of the program promotes high levels of fluency through a spiral curriculum and the opportunity for thirteen consecutive years of study of either French or Spanish. The World Language teachers use various methods including but not limited to the Natural Approach focusing on all aspects of language learning: speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a meaningful context.
The primary social studies program provides continuity by teaching units on unique geographic areas at each grade level as well as important people and events in history. The first grade studies our world and the t seven continents, the second grade learns about government and civics, while the third grade program includes an in depth student of the United States. Kentucky history is taught in the fourth grade and Ancient Worlds are studied in the sixth grade. Literature, art, music and writing have all been incorporated into the teaching of social studies. Each grade level also devotes time to map skills. Strategies are used to incorporate photographs, artwork and maps for the teaching of important historical and social concepts.
Readings and stories from the Bible are used extensively within the religion curriculum. Students fully participate in the liturgies as each child has the opportunity to be involved in reading and singing at all Masses and prayer services. Constant awareness of Christian values are promoted through service projects geared to students at each grade level. Students at every grade level are expected to complete service work. Students participate in service learning projects through the year. These activities help students become ambassadors for their community. The students also learn about the Benedictine values and how to incorporate them into their daily lives.
The curriculum utilizes a hands-on program in science with a spiral curriculum of common themes. The students use inquiry to discover life, physical, and earth sciences. Students learn about physical science, including simple machines, gears and pulleys, physical and chemical changes, and Newton’s laws of motion. They study the environment, organisms and the solar system. Science processing skills are learned through written work as well as discussions. Students also learn observation techniques, prediction, data collection, experimentation, inference and application of data, interpretation, analysis and how to form a hypothesis.
Following a sequentially developed and skill-based curriculum, the fine arts program focuses on the process of students’ artistic growth. The culmination of student work is represented in musical performances and art exhibits throughout the school year. A major goal of the program is to help the students become problem-solvers and risk-takers, while developing creativity and originality. For instance, students of music have been encouraged to develop their own accompaniments to simple melodies.
Art students are introduced to the elements of art and principles of design and the different media artists use. They explore these by looking at other artist’s work and by producing meaningful works of their own at an age appropriate level. As students move from the primary grades to the intermediate grades, they focus on two-dimensional and three-dimensional processes, techniques and purposes. Drawing and painting skills are developed through practice and observation. Different styles and cultures are presented allowing students opportunities to develop creative inspiration and confidence in their abilities. Students work is connected to the subjects students cover in classes.
Students learn through the five basic elements of music in the primary grades: rhythm, melody, harmony, form and tone color. Additionally students learn music history, music literature, and ear training. Secular and liturgical songs are also part of the curriculum. Students are exposed to the contemporary educational ideology of Orff, Kodaly and Dalcroze. The multiple disciplinary aspect of music allows our program to integrate music within other curriculum areas to enhance cognitive and developmental skills other subjects as well as music. All students are encouraged to be involved with musical arts and to make it a life-long pursuit.
The physical education program is designed to introduce and develop athletic skills, cooperation, sportsmanship and an appreciation for physical activity. The curriculum is presented in a challenging and sequential manner throughout the primary and intermediate grades. Drills are age-appropriate and training modalities increase in intensity with each grade level. All other units are progressive in nature and appropriate to grade level. Activities include softball, , badminton, team handball, soccer, cooperative games, floor hockey, ultimate frisbee, basketball, track and field, volleyball, and recreational games. Emphasis is placed on working and playing with intensity, concentration and self-discipline. Cooperative challenges, free-play situations, independent thinking and sport games are all key elements in the development of these important values.
Villa Madonna Academy maintains over 525 computers and iPads throughout the campus, both in lab setting and in the classroom. Teachers capably integrate technology into the curriculum. Web-based learning techniques are used to gather information, reinforce learning and to extend the walls of the classroom. Technology is used as a tool for learning throughout the entire curriculum. All teachers have a laptop computer and iPad. Smartboards, class sets of iPads and laptops also lend themselves to the varied and balanced instructional methods that teachers fully integrate into their subject areas. VMA uses a web based program that allows parents and students the ability to monitor their children’s performance as well as information about classes. In addition, parents can become more active in the school community through updated announcements from teachers and administrators.