Novotny said St. Joseph Academy has worked with special needs as well as gifted students. The younger grades follow a Montessori-style program; the older children work with individualized curriculum. Meaning, the educational materials are the same, but teachers adapt them to fit each student's learning style, Novotny said.
"Some kids are visual and some are hands on," Novotny said. "They all learn differently and like different things."
St. Joseph Academy does lack one component many traditional schools have.
"We don't give them huge amounts of homework," Novotny said. "They get most of the work done during the school day and they also have time to go into the other rooms and work on projects."
Moving to St. John the Baptist brings two more benefits to St. Joseph Academy. One, students and teachers won't have to walk as far to daily Mass, a definite plus in inclement weather. When they were in downtown Joliet, they walked to St. Joseph Catholic Church, Novotny said.
Two, students and teachers now have an actual gymnasium for gym class, she said.
In the other building when we had gym, we had to fold up the card tables we used in the lunch room," Novotny said. "There's also a playground for younger children kitty corner from the school that's owned by the school. And there's a lovely huge stage at the end of the gym and a kitchen at the side of the gym for when we do fundraisers."
Like many Catholic schools, St. Joseph Academy charges tuition and that tuition is comparable to what other Catholic schools charge, Novotny said. However, the academy will work with parents for whom the cost is challenging. In return, these families will often do extra fundraising or clerical tasks at the school, Novotny said.
"I used to teach in traditional schools and there are some wonderful schools out there," Novotny said. "But there are children who are square pegs trying to fit into round holes, children who learn differently. We have the opportunity to explore different ways of educating children that, if we had a school of 500 kids, we would not have that luxury...we can write our own story."