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Why Classical Education?

A Catholic classical education is the oldest and the most successful method of education ever developed. Classical teaching methods and the early integration of Latin from the first grade help students to learn faster and move ahead of their non-classical peers in most subjects. This prepares them to be advanced learners in high school and college, putting their scores in the top 10-15 percent on college entrance exams.

A Classical Education

St. Mary’s School’s classical education can benefit almost any student, from the average to the advanced.  Children gravitate to the classical method because it builds on their natural intellectual curiosity. The classical approach nurtures students’ intellectual and spiritual potential, inspiring them to want to learn; it teaches them logic, reason, and critical thinking, showing them how to learn; and it holds up examples of good citizenship and moral and virtuous behavior, demonstrating why they learn.

The classical approach was the dominant method for teaching for centuries up until the early 1900s. While many modern educational approaches have failed to educate students better than their predecessors, returning to the classical approach is about returning to what works, not returning to the past. What you see at St. Mary’s is a teaching system based on more than 2,000 years of experience.

While students still learn the fundamentals – math, history, science, English, and theology – they also learn at the feet of the giants of history by studying the classical literature, language, art, music, and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome and the long Western intellectual tradition that was built on their foundation.

In addition, the study of Latin helps students acquire the building blocks of English and develop a more extensive vocabulary and a better command of English grammar, which leads to more effective reading, writing, and speaking, as well as the ability to quickly pick up other languages.

“Classical education is the most successful curriculum ever developed, whether measured by its results in literature, art, music, science, philosophy, law or politics.” 
– E. Christian Kopff, author and associate professor of classics, University of Colorado


Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS/CASI)


St. Mary’s Catholic School was established in 1878 to teach children in an atmosphere of faith.  St. Mary’s has been the only Catholic, parochial, elementary school to operate for over 140 years in the Diocese of Memphis and is the oldest, continuously existing parochial school in the state of Tennessee. 

The school has been staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville from 1900 to the present.  It is owned and operated by St. Mary’s Parish and supported by parents and parishioners and the wider community.


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