Each summer, about a week and a half before school starts, Providence teachers congregate to prepare for the year. It’s a wonderful week of training, preparation, and fellowship. New teachers get to know the vision of the school and become acquainted with their new colleagues, and returning teachers prepare to practice their craft for another year. Each time the teachers gather before classes begin, without fail, several key themes, quotes, and Bible passages are always part of the conversation, serving as reminders of our work as teachers and the distinctive role of a classical Christian teacher.
“The most important thing, therefore, about a classical, Christian education is that faculty members exhibit in themselves the virtues and values that we want to see in our students. Thus, in the classroom the teacher is the primary text.” (David Hicks)
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40)
“The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” (John Milton)
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)
“For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.” (Dorothy Sayers)
“Classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness and beauty so that, in Christ, a student is better able to know, glorify and enjoy God.” (Andrew Kern)
And then I tell the teachers something like this every year:
You are the hands and feet of our school’s mission. Policies, philosophies, methods, and goals are essential. Facilities are needful and useful. Technology, books, curriculum, lessons, assignments, classwork, and homework enable us to do our job. But without teachers none of these things mean much. The key to fulfilling our mission as a school, which is another way to say being faithful to what God has called us to do, is you. You are the hands and feet of the mission of Providence Classical Christian School.
I want you to sense something that our teachers are made to feel very keenly: Providence teachers have a very high calling – that of embodying in themselves those virtues they strive to bring to fruition in their students. Each teacher is his or her own greatest project. They are themselves striving to be lifelong learners who possess the tools of learning and who love to learn about God and His world. Then they invite their students to follow them on this path and imitate them, as Timothy imitated Paul.
Every day your children spend their days with godly, gifted men and women who are passionate for the truth, skilled in the art of teaching, and committed to a classical Christian education. Your children’s teachers love your children, and they work diligently every day to be the hands and feet of our mission to your family, while living out the love of Christ. They aim to equip your children to believe courageously, think deeply, and serve compassionately. I feel blessed beyond words to call them friends, colleagues, and fellow workers. And I know that the magnitude of my calling to lead them is exceeded only by the privilege of doing so.
Please allow me to encourage you to pray for your children’s teachers daily. Ask the Lord to bless them and allow them to be worthy examples, inspirations, and guides for your children. And let me encourage you to love and bless your children’s teachers yourselves as well. It makes an eternal difference in their lives and the lives of generations to come.