Volume II, Issue 2 ~ December 2017
Preparing Hearts &
Homes for a Peaceful New Year
Director's Corner

This month, as Advent unfolds and we prepare our hearts for the coming of the innocent Jesus, we bring the focus to bear on making use of Aquinas Learning resources to better prepare our homes to achieve greater peace of mind and a renewal of joy in the new liturgical year.

Join us as we cycle through existing resources, inspire each other with visual ideas for home order, perspective pieces from AL parents, continue to learn about the broader Aquinas Learning community, and enjoy some seasonal liturgical inspiration focused on Advent family traditions... read full version here .
Center Profile: Long Island
Long Island was the second Aquinas Learning center, founded in 2011 following a Google search and an 11:30 pm conversation...
About seven and half years ago, Long Island homeschool mom Joanne Curley was trying to figure out how to challenge her oldest of three children, who was just about to hit high school, and she wanted a classical approach.

At 10:30 p.m. one night, she prayed and sat down to research classical home high school programs. She hit upon Aquinas Learning and thought she’d just give director Rosario Reilly a call. Workhorse that she is, Rosario picked up the call! Joanne learned she would need to start a center to implement Aquinas Learning but felt “no qualms” thanks to a career opening restaurant chains; she felt empowered to jumpstart a new Aquinas center. Joanne visited Virginia about two weeks later for a training day—and the Long Island Center was founded in 2011, is now seven years old, and averages about 40-50 students a year. Full story here .

–Joanne Curley has run the Long Island Center since 2011.
Mentor Spotlight: Maureen Ryan, Long Island
The AL Centers run on the energy and talent of the mentors. Each issue will feature one of these generous individuals.

I started mentoring the Prima 1 (first through third grade) boys and girls in 2013. It is a constant source of joy and very humbling to be with these children every week, and my heart swells when I think of the “small moments” in the classroom...they constantly give each other little gifts and accept one another in such a Christ-like way.

I love to watch over the course of three years as the “youngest” Prima matures—the one who couldn’t remember any answers, was too shy to do a presentation, or was repeatedly reminded of the rules of the classroom—and becomes the natural leader and the true class “mentor” to the other children by his own third year. The mixed-age classroom is one of my favorite aspects of the program, because it encourages the children to help each other and to take on responsibilities in a gentle way, over time... read more here.
Parent Perspective:
Public School Teacher to Homeschool Mom

“I will never homeschool. Kids should be in school where they will learn from knowledgeable teachers. They will be around friends and learn how to work with others.”

Oh, how my opinion has changed. 

Throwing Away Everything I Learned

Over the past eleven weeks of homeschooling, I have learned that everything I studied in school and used in the classroom is essentially useless or looks very different at home. All those tools were created for use in the classroom when you are teaching many children... Read the full article here .

–Allison Lalli is a former teacher. She taught in several elementary schools for about ten years. This is her first year as homeschool parent through Aquinas Learning.
Parent Perspective:
Evolving My Role
As Working
Homeschool Dad

It took me a while to develop my individual role in our kids’ education, my role as a homeschool dad. 

What I came to realize is that I shouldn’t compare my role to my wife’s role. 

I learned to couple my children's curiosity with my own interests and passions to create opportunities for education and exploration to supplement their daily mom-given education.

When possible, get involved at your Aquinas Learning Center. Being a homeschool dad is a less lonely place when you’re able to connect with not only the kids, but the other dads.

–Ryan Flicek is an Aquinas Learning Dad from Minnesota. His wife, Meg, is the Director of the Aquinas Learning Burnsville Center, where Ryan volunteers as the music teacher. He is the Vice President of Aviation Services for a small corporation in the Twin Cities.

Ryan has much more to offer to dads about developing their role as "homeschool dad." Read the full article here .
Living the Liturgical Calendar:  
Colleen Rooney, Celebrating Advent and Christmas for Children

The ALJ’s first segment of the Living the Liturgical Calendar segment features Colleen Rooney, a former Aquinas Learning mentor for the fourth-sixth grade girls for three years at AL Manassas.

Colleen is the founder of Living Advent and author of the 2013 book, Celebrating Advent and Christmas for Children: Food Celebrations with the Saints for Home and School . Click here for information on the book, discount ordering information, and visual inspiration on celebrating the Advent and Christmas seasons with children!
AL Alumni Profiles
Aquinas Learning Centers will graduate four seniors this year. The perspective of former high school students and recent graduates provides helpful and inspirational feedback for current seniors, parents, students and mentors, and inspires the rest of us!

Luke Curley, Long Island, 2015

Luke Curley , one of the first Aquinas Learning senior graduates, finished at the Aquinas Learning Long Island Center in 2015—a year early—and was accepted to Ave Maria University in Florida.

For the full article on Luke's educational and work journey, as well as his words of wisdom for current seniors, go here .
Former Aquinas Alumni Recognized by National Merit Scholarship Program

Clare Kearns, former Aquinas Learning Alta student in the Manassas Center, was recently awarded a letter of commendation from her current school, Oakcrest, and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Commended students placed among the top 50,000 by taking the 2016 PSAT/MNSQT.

Clare was in Aquinas Learning for her 6th and 7th grade years, and she says she “really enjoyed the classroom discussions as well as the opportunities for creative collaboration with her peers.”

To read more about Clare, and her older sister Anne, both AL attendees, read the full article here .
Today I Delighted In...
“I was intrigued when I read in the parent guide how you manage your household. You have no idea how much you have inspired me and have helped me to get on a schedule that we can live with. For the first time in years, I am not running on the theme, "We're behind." That alone is the most refreshing change I see in myself this year thanks to the AL program.”

--This edition's "Today I delighted In" comments were submitted by Christine Buehler (Mentor's Aide, Prima II Girls' Class, Manassas AL Center). To submit your own thoughts, click here .
Organizing Home & Life for Homeschool the Aquinas Learning Way
The preparation time of Advent, coupled with the beginning of the new liturgical year is an ideal time to make the best use of existing resources, as well as to continue to inspire each other with visual ideas for home order!

On the following webpages, you will find Aquinas Learning's support resources collected in one place. Utilizing these resources will help give you the tools for a successful homeschool year. For any resource needs or questions not addressed, please email: aquinaslearninginfo@gmail.com. 

Select the link below to review
Visual Inspiration for Home AL Set-ups:
We have attempted to collect the few known visual samples we of methods of “visual” organization to display the Aquinas Learning materials at home. The goal is to inspire each other with some ideas for the new year, and to hopefully engender some new ideas and sharing among our community. See link above.

If you have an idea about how you handle memory works, visual materials, etc. please share via  email  or to   FaceBook and we will update this page accordingly. 
Get Your Students Organized:
Make Use of Aquinas Learning Student and Parent Planners
These optional—but very helpful—tools were developed by Aquinas Learning parent Bridget Rivas, designed specifically to fit the AL model and to enhance follow-through for parents and students in a useful and visually appealing format. If used correctly, the planner becomes a “permanent” record of student work so a parent can dispose of used workbooks and still have records for proof when needed. There are a couple of options and pointers to keep in mind.

Read here for options, discount order information and how the journals came to be!
Let us know what you think!

Questions? Suggestions? Article ideas? Letter to the Editor?
Interact with ALJ on the web here.

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