The fourth Regina Academy was formally announced this summer with the full cooperation of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In light of the founding of a new school, this time in Ottsville, Penn., The Cardinal Newman Society spoke with the president of the Regina Academies board, Barbara Henkels, about the future of the Regina schools and the growing popularity of classical education.
The new Regina school, originally called St. John the Baptist Parish School, had been slated for closure two years ago. As a result, religious members and laypeople from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia rallied to keep the school open. Funds were raised and a pastor was appointed to St. John the Baptist Parish who was sympathetic to the cause. St. John the Baptist Parish School decided that “becoming a Regina Academy was the best way forward for continuing a path of renewal and growth.”
This will be the first Regina Academy to come from an existing parish school—the first three were started independently. According to Henkels, this is a positive sign of the Regina Academies’ growth. “Our Chairman has been getting many calls from people outside of Pennsylvania who want to know how to open a Regina school,” she told the Newman Society. “There really seems to be a growing interest.”
Founded in 2003, the Regina Schools specialize in teaching students liberal arts and classical education through the Trivium—Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic. The Common Core is not utilized. Students from Regina Coeli Academy, the first of the Regina Schools, scored in the top two percent of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills last year. The majority of students average one or two grades above their level, according to Henkels.
Henkels shared her perspective on the importance of classically educating children:
People can see the great failure of education in this country. It’s widespread. Some of us remember our grandparents’ generation who were usually educated with the Trivium. There’s more of an awareness in the validity of a classical education. Parents have discovered the inadequacies of the Common Core and its inauthenticity in properly educating young people.
Henkels went on to explain the importance of a child’s elementary education. “The elementary years [are] when their potential to grow in the faith is so strong. It’s important to provide a wonderful environment in which they can thrive,” she said.
Each of the Regina schools has 13 to 20 teachers and all the teachers take an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church at the opening school Mass. Henkels explained that this dedication to faith has “created a wonderful community between parents and teachers where everyone is on the same wave length.”
Carol Kodsi, the marketing director for Regina Coeli Academy, told the Newman Society that the classical education provided for Regina Academy students is most successful because “the Catholic faith is at the center of their education.” Enrollment has swelled to around 100 students at each of the three schools and The Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist hopes to experience similar growth, due to the reported enthusiasm of the community and the quality of education.
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