In 1970, little was known about special education, let alone helping bright, capable children who couldn’t read.
Sister of Charity Anne Rita Mauck wanted to be the solution, accepting the challenge and founding the de Paul School to focus on kids who desperately needed her help. From day one, she worked to not only remediate her students’ issues with reading and organization, but she also prepared them for life beyond the classroom. Head of School Tony Kemper says that foundation has guided The de Paul School to become one of the nation’s premiere kindergarten through eighth grade schools. Below, learn just a few of the ways de Paul has made a difference in thousands of children’s lives.
1. The ruler for best practices
From the very start, Sister Anne Rita Mauck developed a curriculum that has stood the test of time. Kemper says, “We have been implementing best practice before best practice was understood.” He continues, “The big buzzword in education right now is structured literacy. Well, for 50 years, we’ve had DPSL as the backbone of our teaching — de Paul Structured Linguistics, now Structured Literacy. For our children who have reading difficulties, this comprehensive daily program is how we teach literacy in all its forms; reading, writing, speaking, spelling, grammar.” Kemper says that the power of DPSL lies not only in the program itself but how they implement it at de Paul.
“Every teacher on our faculty is trained to teach DPSL, which means that if a student is in a language arts class, then goes to a math class, the teacher may be teaching math concepts but with the same emphasis on literacy and organizational skills as if it were in a language arts class. In science, the same applies; essential language skills are reinforced period after period. Every single period of each day is literacy instruction, while they’re also getting uncompromisingly solid instruction in other content areas. Every classroom is going to resemble each other. It’s very much a commitment to be a congruent instructional body.”
2. The de Paul difference
The de Paul School difference isn’t just a tagline — far from it. From the second students step on campus, Four Pillars of Success (Attention, Multisensory Approach, Structure, and Practice) are reinforced so that students can feel confident, comfortable, and engaged. What’s more, Erin Whicker, Admissions Director, says that parents immediately notice the school’s unique guiding principles, “One of the things I hear the most is about the engagement between students and teachers, they’re involved, they are interacting. There are a lot of comments about how calm our school is, too. It’s very purposeful.”
And the teachers have everything to do with that. Kemper notes, “The single biggest attributor to student achievement is teacher excellence.” He goes on to say that the school makes sure that every teacher they select meets their impressively high standards, and it shows. Their teachers speak on a national and international level about their methods, providing professional development lessons to other educators.
3. The ability to evolve
Kemper says that because de Paul is an independent school they’re “able to craft and identify curriculum based upon today’s research and our students’ needs. There’s extraordinary accountability because we can’t afford to make bad choices.” And it’s working — last year, the school retained 86% of their students and more than 95% of graduating 8th graders are accepted into their first-choice high school.
On a more granular level, though, de Paul’s dedication to transformative education shows in the stories of their students: “A new student came to us this year — we’re wrapping up his third week. He’s been to many schools,” Kemper says. “He came to us not believing in himself, thinking that nobody liked him. His family said he’s never made friends. His literacy skills, his organizational skills are so weak, and after three weeks of the teachers investing in him, it’s so much fun to see him understanding just how smart he is. Yes, de Paul is transformative in terms of the academics,” Kemper says, “But, gosh, it’s much more than that.”
If you’d like to learn more about The de Paul School in Louisville, go online to dePaulSchool.org or call them at (502) 459-6131. They are a rolling enrollment school, so it’s never too late to explore them to uncover the true potential of your wonderful child!