Making a Difference: Katherine Magnuson
KET Courses Go the Distance
They are learning a level of responsibility that can’t be taught in a traditional classroom.
Katherine Magnuson – Christian Academy of Louisville
While it may be true that Rome wasn’t built in a day, it didn’t take much longer than that for Christian Academy of Louisville to build a brand-new Latin instruction program—with the help of KET.
“After the first nine weeks of the 2011-12 school year, our Latin teacher, who had started in August, resigned and we basically had a weekend to scramble,” said Katherine Magnuson, who serves as the facilitator for all four KET Latin courses utilized at the academy.
The school, which is spread over four campuses in two states, had to figure out how to provide Latin instruction for the 90 students enrolled. Familiar with KET’s Distance Learning course offerings from a previous experience with KET Physics, school officials chose to take advantage of the Latin I, II, III and AP Latin-Vergil courses KET offers with teacher Ann Denny.
“I always take a positive viewpoint, and I see this situation from a ‘glass half-full’ perspective,” said Magnuson, who, in addition to serving several stints as a long-term substitute teacher at the school, has sent four children there.
“What the students are getting from KET’s Distance Learning is somebody here who cares about them, knows them, and cares about their education—but the actual knowledge of the language is coming from a teacher who has 30 years in the classroom and five years with distance learning.”
A variety of classes
Since 1989, KET has offered high-quality, standards-based distance learning classes to middle and high school students in Kentucky and throughout the nation. Through a combination of the Internet, digital media, and personal contact, KET’s teachers, tutors, and staff provide a unique service designed to give students direct instruction and support.
Classes currently offered include Latin, German, and Physics. New for 2012-13 are Arts in Culture, which meets the high school graduation requirement for Arts and Humanities, and Chinese I and II.
“Ann Denny is an amazing teacher, and we’re very blessed that she is actually able to visit once in a while,” said Magnuson. “She’s met all our students, she learned their names right away, and she grades all their work. That keeps her very current with who they are.”
A very hands-on facilitator, Magnuson has tailored the distance-learning course to meet the unique needs of her students and the goals of the school. For example, since the students began their instruction this year with another teacher, there were some gaps. So Magnuson opens each Latin I class with a quiz designed to bolster what they might have missed.
And, Magnuson said, because the academy brings a Christian perspective to everything students study, she has found that goal easy to accomplish in a subject such as Latin.
“The integration of faith to Latin is something that is important to us,” she said. “This is something I can do as a facilitator. We have the freedom to supplement and make the connection to St. Augustine or the Bible.”
The KET course has worked so well that the academy has chosen to forego traditional Latin instruction and continue with KET’s distance education courses in Latin in the future.
The future of education
Magnuson, whose training is in psychology, rhetoric, and public speaking, said that in addition to the high-quality instruction, the ancillary benefits to students of distance education are just as important.
“When you remove the traditional setting and go to distance learning, it opens the door for students to go at the pace they want. It opens the door to what we say in Latin, which is, the onus, the burden, is on the student to make it happen, instead of being walked through with someone holding your hand.”
The future of education, Magnuson noted, is to utilize the power of technology, which includes Internet-based distance learning. Her students will be prepared for this and possess the independence required of them as college students.
“I tell the students, ‘You don’t even realize you’re learning a whole new way of learning.’ They are learning a level of responsibility that can’t be taught in a traditional classroom,” she said.
“It’s giving them a little bit of an edge-up for their future. It’s opening them up to new learning styles that they might not have had were they not in Latin.”