New Catholic school opens in Clifton

Record Photo by Ruby Thomas Jack Richards, principal of Holy Trinity School, worked with Nathan Leach, a second-grader, in the therapy room at the newly-opened Holy Trinity Clifton Campus School Aug. 14. The Clifton Campus school specializes in teaching children diagnosed with language-based learning differences.

The new Holy Trinity Clifton Campus School will reveal the “genius” of every child, Bishop J. Mark Spalding of Nashville told families who gathered for the school’s blessing Aug. 11.

Holy Trinity Clifton Campus School, which opened for its first day of class yesterday, Aug. 14, is housed in the former Clifton Center, 2117 Payne St., on the campus of St. Frances of Rome Church.

The school is a secondary campus of Holy Trinity School in St. Matthews. It provides a Catholic education to children diagnosed with language-based learning differences.

Bishop Spalding — who helped develop the school when he was pastor of Holy Trinity Church — spoke at the blessing and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This school will make sure the genius of all children is revealed in the world,” said Bishop Spalding. “This widens our arms and outreach to children and families.”

The school aims to do exactly that, said Paula Watkins, head of school at the new campus.
“We’re very passionate about this project,” she said during a recent interview. “We feel we’re transforming the future for Catholic families and we’re very proud.”

She said families have told her how important it is for their children with language-based learning differences to receive a Catholic education.

“Our Catholic families now have a faith-based option,” said Watkins.

Two moms, Carrie Leach and Jackie Hulsey, who have children attending the school, said they are “excited” their children have a faith-based environment where they can learn at their own pace.

Leach whose 7-year-old son Nathan is a second-grader at the Clifton Campus said there’s a long history of Catholic education in her family, so it’s important that her three sons follow in that tradition. She was upset when her son started having difficulties in the classroom, she said.

“The way things were presented (in the traditional) classroom was hard for him and he was frustrated,” said Leach, who also has a kindergartner at the Holy Trinity campus in St. Matthews. “He has to see it, hear it and almost touch it for it to make sense and that’s what will be provided at the Clifton Campus.”

Jackie Hulsey’s 10-year-old daughter Carlee has similar experiences in the classroom. Carlee, diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, is a fourth-grader at the Clifton Campus. Hulsey said it was difficult for Carlee to learn in a “traditional” setting because she’s easily distracted.

“She can only retain a little of what she’s being taught because her mind is all over the place. It’s almost like there’s too much information coming in and it becomes jumbled,” said Hulsey. Carlee who used to feel “isolated and like she didn’t fit in” is now excited to be in a school with children who learn as she does, said Hulsey.

The school year began yesterday with 13 students who are in second-, third- and fourth-grades. Students come from 11 parishes in the archdiocese.

Every class is staffed with a teacher trained to work with children facing language-based learning differences, as well as an instructional assistant, said Watkins.

She said the Clifton Campus plans to keep classes small. It will add a class each year and eventually offer kindergarten through eighth-grade. The student body will be capped at 99.

Students who attend Holy Trinity Clifton Campus School will not miss out on anything that happens on the main campus in St. Matthews, added Watkins.

“We’ve made a strong concerted effort to make sure that both of our campuses are the same, as far as the schedule and resource offering,” she said.

With that in mind, Clifton Campus students will attend Mass every Wednesday at Holy Trinity Church, go to the main school library and will take part in field trips and Holy Week activities with their peers on the main campus. They will also take part in sports and after school activities there as well.

“We’re one community serving two campuses,” said Watkins.

Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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