Mikolaj KopernikNicolaus Copernicus School of Polish Culture & Language in Memphis holds classes on Saturdays at 10:30 am at the Bert Ferguson Community Center, 8457 Trinity Road, Cordova, TN 38018.

The school patron Nicolaus Copernicus was born in 1473 in Torun, Poland. After being educated in Torun, at the age of 18 he began studies in Wszechnica Kakowska (now Jagiellonian University). During the four years he spent at Krakow University, he came into contact with many disciplines. He was taught by eminent scholars and his education included instruction in foreign languages. His increased knowledge of astronomy significantly influenced his life.

After graduating in 1495 he became a canon in the cathedral chapter of Frombork. A year later he went to Italy, where he studied law at the University of Bologna. While at Bologna, he conducted his first independent astronomical observations. Thanks to his knowledge of the Greek language, Copernicus could use the original texts of the ancient scholars in the field of astronomy. In 1500 he went to Rome, where he continued to perform astronomical observations, and also practiced law at the Papal Curia. After a brief return to Frombork, Copernicus went to Italy again, to begin his medical studies in Padua. He also improved his knowledge of astronomy and Greek. He received a doctorate in canon law at Ferrara in 1503. After returning to Frombork, in addition to his church and political careers (he was advisor to the king in matters related to the circulation of money), he conducted astronomical observations in one of the towers of the Frombork stronghold. His great discovery of the heliocentric structure of the solar system, described in the work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium - "On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres” - was published shortly before his death in 1543.

The pedestal of a statue of Nicolaus Copernicus in Torun bears the inscription: Nicolaus Copernicus Thorunensis, terrae motor, solis caelique stator ("Nicolaus Copernicus of Thorun, who moved the Earth, stopped the Sun and Heavens".) Copernicus is one of the greatest scientists in human history.


The Nicolaus Copernicus School of Polish Language and Culture in Memphis started operating in September 2006. As is common with many new initiatives, it was not known how successful the school would be. But the school began with the optimism, enthusiasm and energy of teachers who undertook to offer their work, private time and talents to the initial group of 21 students. Three classes were created, according to age: a preschool group, a group of students from 8 to 13 years and a group of adults.  Thanks to the information contained in the specialized magazine, "Voice Teacher," published in Chicago, the school made contact with those working in education. Our school has benefited from valuable tips and advice offered by experienced teachers.

Classes at school begin in September and end in May, when we also celebrate Mother''s Day and Father''s Day as well as observe teh anniversary of the May 3rd Constitution. The start of the school year is preceded by the annual event "Farewell to Summer."

The basic premise of the School was to convince students that school can be enjoyable and that it is worthwhile to learn Polish. We have made every effort to teach classes that are full of vigor, interesting and colorful. In order to spread Polish culture and tradition, during the school year, we celebrate holidays that highlight both the national character and religion.  Christmas Eve performances by students are used to teach occasional poems and songs which expand their vocabulary. Easter egg decorating helps students  learn the symbolic foods and rituals. Wishes are written by students in Polish on Mother''s Day, Father''s Day, and Valentine''s Day. National pride is enhanced when students learn the achievements of great, famous Poles in the classroom. Students learn the interesting tales about Polish kings. They learn about Poland, situated in the heart of Europe, with the Baltic coast, the Vistula river, lakes, forests, mountains, Warsaw, Krakow and other old beautiful spots which are remembered with affection, and help students deepen their knowledge of geography.

In February 2008, another class was added of nursery school students. Through games, toddlers learn Polish so they are able to tell stories to their grandmothers, grandfathers and other relatives in Poland.  Thus, they outperform their American peers with their knowledge of a second language.  We share our experiences with schools in Columbus, Ohio, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The creation of the Polish School of Polish Language and Culture  preceded the appeal made by the Chairman of the Educational Polish American Congress, whose extensive remarks are excerpted below.

Polonia Polish School facilities

America provides an opportunity for advancement for all citizens. But the road to individual leadership is through by sound knowledge. (...)

For 150 years, there have been Polish schools in the U.S. - and there are currently 158 in 27 states – exceeding the expectations of both parents, and those with Polish backgrounds. Teachers not only complement or even correct the historical message of students that they are learning from public schools, but also encourage them to be proactive in defending our national heritage. Polonia schools are strong and important facilities for the entire Polish community.(...)

The Educational Commission of the Polish American Congress calls upon the parents for massive support of their children in Polish schools. Wherever there is a Polish environment - there should be a Polish school. If you do not have one - let''s develop it for the good of our family and the Polish community.

Dr Edward Osysko
Chairman of the Committee Educational Congress



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