Villa Madonna Academy prides itself on the academic challenge and personal growth that begins in kindergarten and continues throughout the intermediate grades. Guided by teachers 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, world 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 connecting reading to vocabulary. 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 taught through the use of high-fluency words and a structured spelling program beginning in kindergarten. First graders begin with simple sentences and progress to a structured paragraph that includes 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. Our low student:teacher ratio enables teachers to conference with students on a regular basis allowing for differentiated 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 kindergarten, 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 wherein 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 kindergarten and continues throughout the sixth grade. In kindergarten, students learn one semester of each language, French and Spanish. In grades 1-6 a student chooses one world language to study twice per week for the entire year. The curriculum provides students with an early introduction to languages using best practices. The teachers use various methods including, but not limited to, the Natural Approach, which focusses on all aspects of language learning: speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a meaningful context. The seamless design of the program promotes high levels of fluency through a spiral curriculum and the opportunity to study thirteen consecutive years of either French or Spanish.
Kindergarten students learn French for a half of the school year and Spanish for the other half of the year. In first grade, students choose which world language to study through sixth grade. In the primary grades, (grades 1-3) an emphasis is placed on oral language development. Instruction includes engaging students in activities including conversation, music, Total Physical Response, games, and hands-on projects. Basic skills and knowledge are taught and reinforced by the target language activities that address core content for assessment. In the intermediate grades (grades 4-6) the communicative experience is strengthened through content-related topics, thematic instruction, and service-learning. Strategies used include storytelling, cooperative work, and community-based projects work.
Our World Language program teaches :
- Share and discuss ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines with learners
- Share and discuss proficiency goals for each grade level with learners
- Develop instruction to reinforce core content knowledge.
- Provide meaningful opportunities for students to communicate within the four modes of communication: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
- Demonstrate language acquisition through the use of visuals, gestures, pictures, manipulatives and technologies.
- Assess students on performance-based tasks like oral, written, listening and comprehension daily in the classroom.
- Allow students to self-assess their language progression.
In kindergarten and primary grades, the social studies program provides continuity by teaching units on unique geographic areas as well as important people and events in history. The first grade studies our world and the 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 fifth and 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. All students are required to complete service hours and grade level service learning projects throughout the year. Constant awareness of Christian values are promoted through these activities with the goal of growing community ambassadors. The students also learn about the Benedictine values and how to incorporate them into their daily lives.
The science curriculum utilizes a hands-on program 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.
In art class, students are introduced to the elements of art, principles of design, and the different media artists use. They explore these by looking at other artists' work and by producing meaningful works of their own at an age appropriate level. As students move from kindergarten to the primary grades and on 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 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 as well as secular and liturgical songs. Students are also exposed to the contemporary educational ideology of Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze. The multiple disciplinary aspect of music allows our program to integrate music to enhance cognitive and developmental skills in other subjects, not just in music class. 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 kindergarten, primary, and intermediate grades. Drills are age-appropriate and progressive in nature with training modalities utilized to increase intensity with each 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. 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 child’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.
We believe in the power of technology to enhance education and build virtual bridges that connect our entire community. Our technology program prepares students to address the technical challenges of an ever-changing world, while helping to inform parents about every aspect of their child’s education. As technology continues to evolve, we will evolve with it, providing our students with critical skills that contribute to a leading-edge education. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade have access to iPads or Chromebooks in the classroom. Our teachers use SmartBoards to enhance learning, and our elementary Fab Lab allows students to explore computer coding, circuitry, and much more. The weekly Fab Lab lessons dovetail with the classroom curriculum. Computer use is integrated with classroom lessons and activities, enabling students to develop the skills they need for college and the workplace. Our technology curriculum also includes important lessons on acceptable use, computer ethics, and the impact of technology on society.
Library The library is a welcoming place for students and teachers who wish to do research or find age appropriate reading materials. Students in K-6 visit the library weekly. During library class time, the children are taught library skills and learn how to find information in a variety of reference sources. The time is also used for checking out books and hearing stories. Mr. Ben Tilley, our librarian, is committed to helping students exploring books that both challenge and excite the students, and the library collection supports the kindergarten through sixth grade curricula. The elementary library is open daily.