Welcome, Scholé Academy Families!We’re delighted to partner with you in pursuit of restful classical education for your students. This handbook outlines the structure of our online academy, the philosophy of education that we embrace, and the policies we have set in place to facilitate a smooth and fruitful experience for students and teachers. Please review this handbook carefully, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. You confirm your commitment to these policies and agreements by enrolling your student in a Scholé Academy course.
I. The Scholé Learning Philosophy
The word scholé (pronounced skoh-LAY) comes from a Greek word meaning “restful learning,” with connotations of reflection, contemplation, and leisure. Put simply, scholé means undistracted time to study the things that are most worthwhile. As our name implies, we at Scholé Academy value learning that is restful rather than frenetic. How do our educational philosophy and methods differ from those represented by progressive education? Modern education is largely an education in anxiety. In this system, students commonly take eight or more courses at a time, which contributes to the stress and anxiety now associated with the term “student.” For each of their classes students are typically graded numerically by teachers who are often driven to “teach to the test” and who must use assessments that produce easily quantified data—in other words, dehumanizing tests that are machine readable. Students in such a system learn to cram, pass, and then forget. By contrast, our courses of study cultivate un-rushed learning with meaningful, deep engagement of fewer books and concepts (comparatively speaking), so that learning becomes memorable, enjoyable, and permanent. Scholé Academy instructors create an atmosphere of restful learning by modeling peace, tranquility, love of the subject, and they utilize methods of evaluation that assess understanding and mastery of the subject rather than just the input and output of facts.
This means that even in an online classroom setting, the Scholé Academy faculty works to create engaged discussion and learning and seeks to build relationships with and among students. We have worked hard to structure our courses so that the amount of work required is in accord with the allotted time while an atmosphere of contemplation, conversation, and reflection is also cultivated. Our instructors are masters of their disciplines and experienced teachers, many of whom have written the text from which they teach. They seek to wed truth to beauty in their teaching and to cultivate education in its fullest sense, ensuring that through Scholé Academy your student will receive excellent, classical instruction that leads to wisdom and mastery.
As part of their training and orientation, all Scholé Academy instructors study the following. If you are interested in exploring the concept of scholé in more depth, we recommend these resources to you.
- “The Liberal Arts Tradition: The Philosophy of Christian Classical Education” by Kevin Clark and Ravi Jain (book)
- “Scholé in The Scripture: Choosing What Is Better” by Christopher Perrin (article)
- “Desiring a Kingdom School” by Christopher Perrin (article)
- The Liturgical Classroom and Virtue Formation by Jenny Rallens (video seminar)
In pursuit of scholé, Scholé Academy employs two key pedagogies that set it apart from other online schools. First, we emphasize the development of virtues in students; second, we employ patterns of “liturgical learning.” In fact, liturgical learning is an important part of developing student virtues. While it is beyond the scope of this handbook to fully describe the student virtues and how we seek to cultivate them, the student virtues should nevertheless be briefly described.
1. Student Virtues
Augustine described education as essentially teaching students to “love that which is lovely,” following on Plato’s idea that affections and taste must be cultivated. The classical and Christian traditions have emphasized that it is critical to model for students the love for the true, good, and beautiful, and by various means to cultivate and stir up a love for them. C.S. Lewis makes this case persuasively in his little book The Abolition of Man. He tells us that we need to cultivate not only minds but also chests (the visceral, affective part of us), especially since presently our modern schools neglect the cultivation of affections, rendering us as “men without chests.” He comments that modern students are not so much “jungles to be cut” as “deserts that need to be irrigated.”
Even the word “student” suggests this. The word “student” is derived from the Latin word studium which mean, “zeal,” “fondness,” and “affection.” Thus, etymologically considered, a student is someone who is zealous and eager for truth, goodness, and beauty—that is, for knowledge. Is it not true that there are many students who are not really students? Until we have a child before us who is seeking and zealous for knowledge, we really don’t have a student before us; instead we have someone who we must force to do academic work, usually by means of the carrot and the stick. Such a “student” will be generally uncooperative and resistant (even if passively so), and will quickly forget what he is forced to “learn.” Teaching such “students” is no fun at all. By contrast, once a child becomes eager to learn, to know, is in fact “in love” with math, history, language or logic—then teaching is a joy.
Great teachers know instinctively that they must cultivate this studium, this zeal, in their students. Naturally, parents play the most vital role in this development, and in education a partnership between parents and teachers is required for true success. So what are the key student virtues that we need to cultivate in our children? What are the corresponding vices that they must overcome?
- Love: Love is a master virtue that fuels and empowers the other student virtues and leads to them. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 13 that even if we speak in the tongues of angels (high linguistic achievement!) and fathom all mysteries (surpassing the learning of a genius) but have not love, our achievement will be worth nothing. Students are called by God (and thus should be called by us) to “love the lovely” and to glory in God Himself and His revealed mind in nature, Scripture and ourselves. Knowing of God’s goodness in the world, and his goodness toward us, we can live out of love and gratitude in all we do, including in our studies and our pursuit of the True, Good, and Beautiful in all of our academic work. We can always say to our students therefore, “Choose joy.”
- Humility: Humility is another master virtue that leads to other virtues. We cultivate humility by taking students to the heights, showing them greatness. In the presence of greatness, students become conscious of their own slender resources and will not take on anything beyond their power, but instead learn to rejoice what is given them in their measure. Humility will also lead to gratitude—gratitude even for those friends whose gifts and capacities surpass our own. Sertillanges writes, “In face of other’s superiority, there is only one honorable attitude, to be glad of it, and then it becomes our own joy, our own good fortune.”
- Patience: Patience involves bearing difficulties well, enduring the hardship and “suffering” that does come occasionally (and sometimes regularly) as part of learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge.
- Constancy: Students who exhibit constancy keep steading at task, remaining focused and diligent. This virtue enables students push away even “good” distractions that would inhibit learning and mastery.
- Perseverance: Perseverance is similar to constancy, but this virtue requires a willful spirit to do what must be done, and even to love what must be done (reminding us that love is a master virtue). Students will be motivated and inspired to persevere by the vision of mastery, capacity, and wisdom that teachers lay before their eyes. Small wins and slowly increasing capacity will also kindle perseverance, constancy, and patience.
- Temperance/Studiousness: Students need to avoid excessive negligence (laziness) and excessive curiosity and ambition (vain ambition and overreach). To master an art, students must walk the wise, proven path, starting at the beginning and mastering each step. To leap ahead (even when they can to some degree) does damage to the necessary discipline of mastering an art. Sertillanges says, “if you want to see things grow big, plant small,” and go to the sea by way of the streams and rivers—it is folly to go jump in the sea. Recall as well the tortoise and the hare. Students also must balance or temper their studies with other academic work and with their other responsibilities and human being (good exercise, prayer, worship, family living and contributions, etc.).
- Pride: Pride drives students to love their opinion and thoughts such that they cannot learn from others or discern the broader wisdom from other minds that would inform them.
- Envy: Envy agitates the mind by refusing to honor the gifts and capacities of others; it hinders students from learning from other honorable and able students.
- Sloth/Laziness: This is where the good gifts and capacities of students go to die.
- Sensuality: Indulgence in sensuality (not only of the sexual variety) creates lethargy, befogs the imagination, dulls the intelligence, and scatters the memory; sensuality distracts from learning.
- Irritation/Impatience: Irritation and impatience repels exhortation, direction, and constructive criticism and thus deters students from mastery and leads them to increased error.
- Excessive Ambition (a form of intemperance): Excessive ambition leads students to leap ahead of their capacity without true mastery and integration (often out of pride), which ultimately slows down learning and leads to patchy, non-integrated understanding.
All of these vices compromise a student’s ability to attend, to judge/assess and therefore to truly know. All of these vices also tend to come together and lead to one another—they are interconnected.
These virtues are not so much taught as they are cultivated and modeled. We should make students aware of these virtues and we should in fact occasionally teach them directly. However, it is very important that students begin to hunger for these virtues themselves and cry out to God for them. This seems to be the point of Proverbs 2—if a student won’t cry aloud for wisdom and seek it as hidden treasure, he won’t ever get it. Therefore (among other things we do), we must exhort our students to ask God for virtue and wisdom—a prayer he delights to answer (James 1).
2. Liturgical Learning
“Liturgical learning” is a phrase that describes the use of the embodied patterns from church worship and tradition for shaping the way we order time, space, and language in our schools and home schools. We believe that using elements of a liturgical pattern within our classes is an effective way to recover reflection and contemplation as part of learning. We think that it is one faithful application of the classical tradition, and it differentiates us from other online schools.
For example, one could use the following “order of worship” as a pattern for ordering a lesson. This pattern or template is intended as a guide that is not “followed to the letter” but nonetheless shapes the “learning liturgy” of Scholé Academy classes to distinguish them as “scholé” courses. Our faculty embraces and loves incorporating this approach, and we believe our students will too.
Please note, the pattern of a class is determined by the course instructor. Many of our teachers incorporate elements of the following pattern, but the embodiment of “liturgical learning” will vary from teacher to teacher and class to class.
- Welcome/Greeting: Students are greeted by beautiful image(s) and music, perhaps with a inspirational quotation or key question, which they are asked to contemplate for several minutes.
- Grateful Acknowledgement: The students and the teacher express gratefulness for the art, one another, the opportunity study some aspect of God’s creation, mind, nature, humanity, etc.
- Confess What We Need: The students and the teacher confess a need for a disposition, a frame of mind, virtue, a heart that seeks and calls out for wisdom, etc. A written confession may be read and/or prayer offered (Key Scripture: Proverbs 2:1-7).
- Teach/Present/Discuss: The teacher leads a traditional lesson, ensuring that students are engaged and participating.
- Confess What We Know/Have Learned: The teacher leads a summary and review, sometimes taking the form of “creedal” confession that edifies.
- Expression of Thanksgiving: The teacher (or a mature student) leads the class in expressing gratitude to God, the teacher, and/or other students.
- Benediction/Dismissal: The teacher gives a prepared benediction written by the teacher or from traditional sources.
- Processional: The students return to beautiful music and images. Students are free to leave immediately or remain for quiet contemplation.
As we seek to recover and renew the scholé tradition of education, we know that we will misstep and veer from this path—after all we don’t know the path nearly as well as we would like. Still, we believe that finding and walking that path will be enriching to students, parents, and teachers. As we seek to recover the classical tradition of scholé, we welcome parental feedback and ideas about how we can better embody scholé in our online classes.
II. Classroom Technology
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with processor with a speed of 1 Ghz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later) or XP (with SP3 or later). We do NOT recommending using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your internet the better. We recommend using a connection with an download/upload speed of 5/1Mbps or better. You can test your internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class.
Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face-to-face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use.
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
3. Joining a Class Session
1) Be sure you have downloaded Zoom as outlined above.
2) Launch the Zoom application/program on your computer.
3) A small window will open with several options for joining or starting a Zoom meeting.
4) Click “Join.”
III. School Policies
1. Statement of Faith
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
2. Student Placement
For each of our courses, we list a class description, grade range, and prerequisites (if applicable). Please use these as guidelines for determining your student’s readiness for the course. If you have any questions about the placement of your child, please call us at 866-730-0711; we would be happy to help you determine the best fit for your student. Students who are outside of the listed grade range, who are above or below grade level for their age, or who have not completed the listed prerequisites must be approved by Scholé Academy before they are granted admission to the course. If you have a student who fits this description, please contact us before purchasing the course.
Students enrolling in Scholé Academy courses should be able to write and communicate at their grade level. Students enrolling in SA lower school courses should be at least eight (8) years of age before the first day of class but not older than thirteen (13) by the first day of class. Students enrolling in SA upper school courses should be at least twelve (12) years of age before the first day of class, unless otherwise specified in the course listing on the SA website. Lower school students will be expected to write their work legibly by hand. As the students progress into the higher levels of lower school (approx. 5th grade and up), increased comfortability with typing is expected. Students enrolling in upper school courses must have adequate computer keyboard skills for interacting during class and typing written assignments. All students must also be able (sometimes with parental guidance) to interact with Schoology, the learning management system used by SA, to view homework, post assignments, view feedback, etc.
Please note that Scholé Academy, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to deny admission to a student for any reason.
3. Student Learning Challenges/Disabilities
To best enable us to meet your student’s needs while maintaining high standards for our courses, we would like to invite you to engage us in a dialogue if you think your child might demonstrate a developmental difference that could limit his/her ability to fully engage with the course and its standard requirements. Our instructors are not equipped or trained to serve students with learning disabilities. However, in many cases students with learning challenges are able to participate fully in our courses with outside assistance. To ensure that we can serve your student well, we ask that you please contact us before registration if your student has any unique learning challenges or has been diagnosed with any learning disabilities. If you have questions about the placement of your child in one of our classes, please contact us prior to registration, and we would be glad to discuss possibilities for accommodation. In some cases, we may request that the student and/or parent meet with the course instructor to determine the best course of action.
Students with learning disabilities who are accepted into Scholé Academy courses are enrolled on a provisional basis. Within the first three weeks of classes, the parent or teacher may determine that the course is not the proper fit for the student, and a refund will be issued. To the best of our ability, we seek to ensure proper placement before the start of the school year. However, in the occasion that an issue becomes apparent within the first three weeks of classes, the parent or teacher may request that the student withdraw for a full refund.
Tuition: Payment for courses may be made online on the Scholé Academy website or by calling the office at 866-730-0711. Tuition for each course is listed on the course page and also at checkout. Scholé Academy offers custom payment plans and will hold a seat for a student with a minimum $75 deposit. See below for our withdrawal/refund policy. If you would like to register with a payment plan, please call our office at 866-730-0711.
Withdrawing from a class: There is a $75 deposit built into the cost of each course. Withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including this deposit. After May 1, withdrawals are granted a full course refund, less the $75 deposit. Students may withdraw from a course through the second week of classes. After the second week of classes, no refund is given.
Waiting Lists: If a given course is designated “full” and you’d like to be added to the waiting list, please contact us with your request, including your name, phone number, and email address, as well as the following student information: name, grade (2017-18 school year), and date of birth. If a seat becomes available, we will notify those on the waiting list in the order in which the requests were received by our office. In some cases, Scholé Academy may offer an additional section of a course if a course fills up quickly. In these cases, we will notify those on the wait list of the new section when it becomes available for registration.
Auditing a class: Auditing is permitted on a case-by-case basis. The charge for auditing a SA course is 70% of the tuition fee. Auditors are not responsible to take any examinations or complete any assignments. Teachers will not assess any written work of auditors. Auditors may not participate in class discussion except when asked to by the teacher. If you are interested in auditing a class, please contact us.
Class cancellations or changes: On rare occasions, SA may have to cancel a class or move students to a new section of a class with a different instructor. A full refund will be given to parents of a student whose class has been cancelled. If a student has been moved to a new section of the class with a different teacher, parents will be permitted to withdraw from the course and receive a full refund if parents withdraw within 10 business days of receiving notice of the move to a new section.
5. Orientation Sessions
One week prior to the start of a course, the instructor will hold a brief orientation session for students and their parents. This session is an opportunity for students, parents, and the course instructor to introduce themselves to one another, test the classroom technology, and ensure everything is in working order for the first day of class. Participation is required.
Details regarding the orientation session will be provided by the instructor via email during the month of August. If you or your student are unable to attend the orientation session, please contact the course instructor for access to the recording of this session.
Our classes are live and highly interactive, with students regularly interacting with their instructor and peers and participating in class discussion. As such, we recommend students attend as many live class sessions as possible. There are, of course, circumstances, both planned and unplanned, in which students must miss a class. In such circumstances, we provide students with a recording of the live class session so that they may play back the session they missed. Whenever possible, we ask that students alert their instructor of their absence before missing class.
While recordings of live sessions are a helpful tool for occasional absences, they are not a sufficient replacement for class participation in the long term. With this in mind, we allow a maximum of six absences for yearlong courses (September–May) and three absences for one-semester courses (September–Jan or Jan–May). During the Summer Term, absence permissions are handled by the course instructor on a case-by-case basis.
Please note, though we will endeavor to have recordings for each and every class, we can’t guarantee that we will have recordings 100% of the time (e.g. occasionally we run into technical difficulties). Our teachers are available to their students in class, via email, and during office hours. When students are unable to attend class, they tend to rely more on email communication. If your student has to miss a class, anything you can do to minimize the extra work required of the teacher would be greatly appreciated. As you might expect, teachers can’t reteach the material via email. However, our teachers are accessible to their students and provide assistance as needed.
While Scholé Academy courses will be “restful,” we also recognize the need to provide grades for students who will be using this course as part of their prepared college transcript. It’s a delicate balance to achieve both restful learning and excellent academic performance. Earning a specific grade should not overshadow achievement goals for mastery of this discipline. Often, for disciplines in classical education, learning the concepts introduced will be a necessary and significant component of future success in upper-level classical education. In that sense, attaining mastery is its own reward.
Teachers will often assign the following grades based on students’ level of achievement: magna cum laude (with great praise), cum laude (with praise), satis (sufficient, satisfactory), and non satis (not sufficient). Ideally, every average student working diligently should do praiseworthy work (cum laude). Those who excel beyond this expectation will be the magna cum laude students. Students who do adequate but not praiseworthy work should be designated satis. Non satis means lacking sufficiency or adequacy. These assessments are not mere grading instruments but ways for both the student and the instructor to assess mastery. We recognize that some students will need a traditional grade designation for reporting purposes such as transcripts. If you require either a numeric or letter grade, please notify the teacher at the start of the course so that he or she can provide a grade accordingly at the end of the course.
Scholé Academy serves homeschoolers by providing online instruction, but we do not replace parents as the administrators of home schools. As such, the ultimate authority on a student’s grade is her parent. If a parent feels the need to modify the teacher’s assessment in his own records, as the administrator, he should feel free to do so. However, only students who complete the required work for a given class at a level deemed satisfactory by the instructor will receive a completion certificate from Scholé Academy.
8. Parent Concerns
If, at any time, you have a concern regarding your student, the course, or the instructor, we encourage you to contact the course instructor as soon as the concern arises. Likewise, should our instructors have any concerns about your student, they will reach out to you right away. Our instructors wish to keep lines of communication with their students and students’ families open at all times, and the vast majority of concerns can be resolved quickly if expressed promptly. With the exception of very minor concerns, we encourage you to set up a call with the course instructor to discuss the matter over the phone. We have found phone and/or video conversations to be far more effective for resolving concerns and conflicts than email, which naturally lends itself to ambiguity and misinterpretation.
If you have already spoken with the course instructor and you are unsatisfied with the resolution of the issue, please do not hesitate to contact our office, and a member of the Scholé Academy administration will be happy to hear and address your concern.
IV. Parent Agreement
In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.
— St. Augustine
Teaching children is a noble activity but also one that can create anxiety. After all, to hire someone to teach your child touches upon and impacts 1) your money 2) your faith and life philosophy 3) the soul of your child. It is important, therefore, that we clarify what each party (Scholé Academy and the paying parent) expects from the other and to commit to treat one another with respect and charity.
What follows is a general description of what we (Scholé Academy or SA) pledge to provide to the parent or guardian as the paying customer for our courses. This section is followed by a description of what the customer pledges to SA, including the various logistical and financial responsibilities and student requirements. We look forward to a successful partnership, serving each other for the education of the next generation.
Please note: Parents confirm this agreement by enrolling their student in a Scholé Academy course.
- Scholé Academy Responsibilities
- SA will provide qualified teachers to teach students to excellent academic standards, also seeking to cultivate noble affection and virtues in the souls and minds of students. SA teachers will follow the “scholé learning philosophy” of restful learning in a congenial online atmosphere.
- SA teachers will provide meaningful assessments to help students and parents gauge the academic progress of students and to help ensure they are on the path to mastery.
- SA teachers will neither upbraid nor humiliate students, but they will seek to guide, mentor, and correct students (including their class behavior) in accordance with Christian love and wisdom. When a sensitive issue arises, or an offense or grievance, SA teachers will seek to speak to students privately whenever possible. SA expects that the vast majority of discipline and behavior issues will be handled by means of meaningful conversation with the teacher and student. Discipline and behavior issues that are not resolved by conversation with teacher and student will be brought next to the parent or guardian’s attention. Discipline and behavior issues will only be brought to the SA director when no resolution has been achieved after conversation between the teacher and parent.
- SA will provide high-standard virtual classroom software and learning management system software, and offer general support and guidance in order that parents and students can use these tools well.
2. Parent and Guardian Responsibilities
- Parents and guardians will encourage students to be diligent in the completion of all assignments (on time), in coming to class on time, in participating in class discussions, and in maintaining respectful behavior in class. Outside of class, parents and guardians will seek to reinforce and compliment the “restful learning” approach of SA. Parents will assist students by reviewing homework and written assignments, and helping students stay organized, on task, and on pace. Parents will review the annual Academic Calendar to ensure that students are prepared ahead of time for coming classes.
- Parents and guardians will trust the assessments of qualified teachers who are masters of their art and will generally refrain from challenging the assessments of teachers. Parents and guardians will, however, seek to understand the academic progress of students and engage teachers with questions when they need clarity and guidance in order to help their children/students.
- Parents and guardians will encourage respectful behavior or students in class and in all communications with other students and the teacher.
- Parents and guardians will bring any offense or grievance privately to the teacher for resolution. Only after a discussion with the teacher fails to bring resolution will an offense or grievance be brought to the attention of the SA director.
- Parents and guardians will provide computer equipment according to the standards set forth in the SA technological requirements (see Technology Requirements above).
- Parents and guardians will maintain good communication with SA teachers and ensure that students are able to access the learning management system online. Parents and guardians will notify teachers and the SA administration at firstname.lastname@example.org) of any change in email address or phone number.
- Parents and guardians will ensure that students make up any missed classes by viewing class recordings (distributed by the instructor) and completing any missed assignments. They will also help students follow the course description and map that may be distributed by SA teachers.
- Parents and guardians will ensure that suitable computer equipment (see hardware and software requirements in the Classroom Technology section) is available and working so that students can access the online courses and use them well.
- Parents with two or more students enrolled in a SA course may allow two-three students to use one computer, but must be responsible to ensure that audio and video will work well with the configuration. If the configuration will not work well, parents will be required to provide one working computer for each student. SA encourages parents to provide one working computer for each student if at all possible.