Beginning in September 2014, parents of 5-year-olds in Western New York have a new choice in Catholic education. Buffalo's Nardin Academy is adding kindergarten to its first- through eighth-grade elementary program. The inaugural group will build reading and math skills in extended morning classes, while afternoons will include religion, languages and performing arts, according to Victoria Boreanaz, lower schools admissions facilitator.
"I think one of the advantages of coming here is a small group setting, that kids learn in reading and math," Boreanaz said. "All students. We don't have pullout for all those gifted and talented. All of our children are gifted and talented. So it's a very enriched curriculum."
The school will continue its multi-age Montessori classroom, while children who join this new program will enjoy a seamless transition to the Nardin experience, said Jana Eisenberg, director of communications.
"In the kindergarten, there will be a religious element to the curriculum, as well as all the arts and phys. ed., technology, reading, math. There will be a beautifully, sort of tailored, curriculum, age-appropriate, but preparing them to move through our school, which is known for its academic rigor."
Nardin Academy traces its history back to 1893 when Bishop John Timon asked Miss Ernestine Nardin from the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, to start the school. Boreanaz said that Nardin has held onto that unique niche.
"We are the first one in Buffalo, Catholic independent school," she said. "We maintained our independence in that way, and we hold with our Catholic identity."
Boreanaz said that when principals meet within the diocese, social justice themes are developed and the liturgical year is celebrated.
"We are a Catholic school, with a strong Catholic tradition," she said.
Joanne Vile, elementary teacher at Nardin for the last 12 years, is excited to be part of building the kindergarten program. She said the school celebrates its diversity as students from different religious backgrounds attend.
"Parents of other faiths have been wonderful about coming in and sharing their tradition," Vile said.
Vile praises the school's new Nancy Larson Science program, saying it was exciting to meet with Larson to study the curriculum last summer.
"It's an experiment-based curriculum," Vile said. "It encourages exploration. We're very lucky here. We have some amazing technology within the classroom."
She said that lessons in textbooks can be projected on SMARTBoards in every classroom as well, and that tablets are available for every student and teacher.
Eisenberg said that because of families who are heavily invested in the community, Nardin is active in social justice. Even the youngest children get involved, she said, sending comfort in colorful handmade cards to Ronald McDonald House and nursing homes nearby.
At Nardin, children may start in Montessori at age 3 and continue through high school, building lifelong bonds, according to Eisenberg.
There's a lot of legacy," she said. "Families have been coming for generations, and coming back."
Boreanaz said one of the things she especially enjoys are the visits of former students.
"They come back and tell us how they are doing," she said. "And they are doing fabulous things. One of our boys is designing homes to go on the side of a mountain in Rio, because of the earthquake."
Eisenberg said the school works hard at being a part of the community and keeping the tuition at a competitive rate.
"Our wonderful Advancement Department works really hard to supplement the school so it is more affordable for families," Boreanaz said.
Boreanaz and Eisenberg encourage interested families to visit the school. Visitors can arrange a tour and speak with teachers.
"This is a great place as a parent and a teacher," Vile said. "It's really a family here. My own children came here, and they led me here. You're part of a family. They had very good experiences here. I always talk highly of that. I feel that it changes your life."
For more information contact Victoria Boreanaz at 716-881-6262, ext. 1030, or via email.