Local News Archive
Print Issue: September 5, 1968
Ungraded Language Arts Program At OLA School
Sister Mary Valentina, principal of Our Lady of the Assumption School, has announced that OLA will introduce an ungraded language arts program -- reading, writing, spelling -- for the children in kindergarten through third grade. She hopes to extend the ungraded program to all subjects in the primary grades.
Mrs. Paul Kenneth Vonk, associate professor in the School of Education, Oglethorpe College, has been helping Sister Valentina and will continue to help her throughout the year. Mrs. Vonk spoke on the advantages of the ungraded school at the OLA Cafetorium.
She explained that the non-graded school is the natural evolution from the mistaken notion that all children are ready for schooling at age six.
She compared the old system to buying thirty size eight suits and expecting all children to fit them. The new system is to tailor the schooling to fit each individual child.
If a child is permitted to self-progress, explained Mrs. Vonk, he will progress much more rapidly. If he is allowed to seek information that interests him he will seek his own level, and his standards will be set high. If a child is forced to learn, he will become frustrated. If he can work at his own pace without being pushed, he will learn at a much more rapid pace.
Mrs. Vonk has bachelor and master degrees from the University of Miami. She was appointed adjunct professor by both Florida State University and the University of South Florida, teaching continuing education courses in language arts, diagnosing reading difficulties, and techniques and treatments for reading disabilities, to teachers in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Fla. She set up and directed a developmental reading course at Pensacola Junior College.
Sister Valentina became interested in the non-graded school last November after reading about it in The National Elementary Principal. After evaluating the curriculum of OLA, she felt this program would be beneficial to the children. In December the primary teachers at OLA observed a non-graded school in Macon, GA. and were impressed by the experience.
They came back to OLA and regrouped the first grades. The children had originally been divided into three groups within each classroom, the slow, average, and bright. Now all first grade children and second grade children were regrouped into eight ability groups ranging from very low to very high. The groups were established through teacher evaluation and test scores from the basal reader and remained flexible. This provided a more accurate placement for each child.