Monthly Archives: May 2010


Parenting 101, part five

Here’s another basic of being a good school parent: help your children start the day out right.

I am thinking of very concrete things:

Make sure your children get a good night’s rest

Feed your children a good breakfast

Get your children to school on time

Send your children to school in uniform

Help your child organize his assignments

Pack a hearty snack and lunch that will get him through the day.

It is amazing how much simple things like sleep and food impact your child’s day. And then in turn your child’s day impacts the other students in his class and his teacher as well. Children concentrate, think, and learn better when their bodily needs are well cared for. Children are free to focus on learning when they are not distracted by uniforms and disorganized assignments and tardiness.

One of the reasons you have your child at Regents Academy is your concern for his soul. You know that education is essentially a religious activity and that a Christian education is indispensable for a child to grow up in the care and admonition of the Lord. Prayer, the Bible, and godly teachers are all formative for your child’s soul, and these are what your children are surrounded by each day. But created in the image of God, we are souls AND bodies. We need to tend to our bodies as well as our souls, from childhood to adulthood.

So examine your family’s habits and your patterns. Life is busy, and details are often hard to see. But consider how vitally important it is for your children to sleep and eat well, and to begin each day ready for school.

Here at the end of another school year is the time to take stock and begin to plan now how you can improve next year.


Parenting 101, part four

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts called Parenting 101. These are meant to be suggestions for how to be a good school parent.

The next principle is this: Be a supporter of the school when you’re out in the community.

Parents are our school’s best spokesmen, ambassadors, and advocates. So look for opportunities to get the word out about Regents Academy in our community. Private education seems odd to many people, not to mention private Christian education. And private classical Christian education is an outright enigma. But then there’s you standing before them: your children are part of a classical Christian school, and you can help people understand what is so great about that.

Are there things the school needs to do better? Are there things the school has gotten wrong? Of course. However, we can all major on the many things the school has gotten right and the many wonderful gifts God has given us through the school. A little bit of criticism on Facebook goes a long way. But a few well-chosen words to friends and neighbors about how God has blessed your family through Regents Academy goes even further. As the school’s reputation for excellence in education and for being a loving Christian family grows, the school prospers, and we all benefit.

You have a lot to do with that. So do your part. Talk the school up, and watch what happens.


A Word of Thanks for Mrs. MaryAnn Bentley

Dear Regents Family,

It is my privilege to serve Regents Academy as chairman of the board. I know I speak for the whole board when I express my sincere appreciation for MaryAnn Bentley’s service as administrator of our school.  Her presence on our school campus is proof that God has been faithful to our school in its early years.  She has been a blessing to the board as a great source of leadership, knowledge, and experience as well as being a blessing to our families as an educator, organizer, and friend.  Over the past four years, MaryAnn has helped to transition Regents Academy from a somewhat informal collection of families to a thriving, growing school.

Having worked directly with MaryAnn on multiple projects and in a wide variety of school situations, I can say that she is truly a pleasure to work with.  MaryAnn always has a smile when times are tough. She often shares a story from her years in education and wisdom that can only come from a great mother.   For this rookie school board chairman, I deeply appreciate her calm approach and I’m sure this school year, and my life, has been better for it!

Her experience has proven to be invaluable to the board and her new role as fellow board member will allow for her continued involvement and input.  Additionally, MaryAnn’s new role as Placement Director will help our students find God’s direction for their lives and have even greater success in the pursuit of their goals.  MaryAnn has sacrificed greatly for Regents Academy and her love of learning and the students has led to many great accomplishments.
During her tenure as Regents Academy school administrator, she has endured the building of a new educational wing, formalized many school processes, grown the enrollment significantly, watched many seniors go to the colleges of their dreams, led times of devotionals and singing, disciplined students when needed, and prayed with students and families in times of trials and blessings.  MaryAnn has worn too many hats to count!  We are thankful also that Farrar will continue to serve the school as our Spanish teacher. Yes, we have been blessed to have the Bentleys at Regents Academy, and I look forward to many more years of serving the school together.

Mrs. Bentley’s mantle of leadership will be passed on to Mr. David Bryant, our current Academic Dean, who will become the administrator in June. The board is grateful that Mr. Bryant and his family are a part of our school.

On behalf of the Regents Academy school board, and from the very bottom of my heart, thank you MaryAnn for your impact on the lives of our students, our families, our school and our community.

Sincerely,

Mark E. Sowell, DPM
Regents Academy Board Chairman


Parenting 101, part three

Another Parenting 101 principle: If you have a problem or an issue with your child’s teacher, go directly to the teacher as soon as possible.

You will be tempted to gossip about it with others. You will be tempted to bury it until it festers into anger or bitterness. You will be tempted to send a scathing email. You will be tempted to stew over it until it bursts out later. You will be tempted to do lots of things that are neither productive nor biblical.

The right response is to go to your child’s teacher with a gentle and gracious spirit and simply ask to talk about the issue. In Matthew 18 our Lord taught us that if someone sins against us, we ought to go to that person and tell him his fault. Talking about it with others, unless you are genuinely seeking counsel in dealing with the issue, is not an option. It requires humility in parents to go to a teacher with the right spirit. It also requires humility in a teacher to be willing to acknowledge his faults and rectify them. It takes wisdom, too, because sometimes the teacher has done nothing wrong or has unintentionally hurt feelings.

Regents teachers are not only willing to talk things over with you, they are eager to do so. Almost every week, I see or hear of faithful parents who come to a teacher and share their concern, and the issue is dealt with peacefully and effectively. We live in a community, with teachers partnering with parents to teach and train children for Christ. We are fellow believers — grown-ups — who are called to act in love.

Now, I know that these are your children, and it is easy to get emotional or upset when you perceive that a teacher is out of line. All the more reason to pray, get control, and go straight to the one who needs to work it out: the teacher.

What do you do if that meeting doesn’t yield results? That is the time, perhaps, to go to the headmaster and seek another hearing. Maybe there is more information that will clear things up, or maybe the headmaster can go to the teacher and get to the bottom of things and bring a resolution to the matter.

In any case, we should consider what St. Paul taught us in Galatians 5:14-15.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

We do well to practice these words daily — and heed Paul’s warning — as parents and teachers.


A Hail and Farewell from Mrs. Bentley

A Hail and Farewell

By MaryAnn S. Bentley

A Hail and Farewell is a social gathering all armed services use to welcome newcomers to a new assignment and extends goodbyes to those leaving for another post.  I believe this is such a warm and kind tradition to show our affection for those who share our lives.  This tradition was passed down to me over fifty years ago when I met my wonderful husband, Farrar. The civilian world has retirement parties, but is remiss when it comes to changing one’s address or job position.  I have now come to that fork in the road when it is time for me to say farewell to over twenty years of administrative duties in the field of education and say hello to a bit more free time, but not entirely leaving my chosen profession.

The month of June will bring a transition to Regents Academy.  I will remove my administrator’s hat and become the Placement Director for Regents Academy. My new position will make ready our secondary students for life beyond these halls of ivy. The Placement Directors position is new and I look forward to embracing it with all of the energy, enthusiasm and excitement that I did my first teaching job in 1976.  My plan is to create a profile for our school, to clarify and align our Classical curriculum, as well as make our students ready for their chosen professions.  Along with guiding our students, I will administer and oversee all testing, such as: PSAT, Duke TIP, achievement tests, etc., and lighten the load of the administrator. I will also be available for college counseling with students and families on an as needed basis.

The Lord speaks and Mr. Bentley and I shall heed His instructions to scale back and make more time for our family. We have ten wonderful grandchildren and five fantastic children.  We have two sons in the active Army and have watched them travel in and out of Theater for over ten years.  Next school year will bring us back on a reduced schedule and Mr. Bentley will teach Spanish as I begin in my new position.   We heartily believe in the goals and missions of  Regents Academy and I am thankful for the past four years as your administrator.  The Regents Academy board has asked me to join them in membership and I consider it an honor to become a part of this auspicious body of leaders.

Mr. David Bryant, Academic Dean, will become the Regents Academy Administrator beginning in mid June, 2010.  I pass the mantle to Mr. Bryant knowing that the Regents Academy family will be in very capable hands.  A very hearty welcome to Mr. Bryant, his wife, Ashley and their children Aaron, Alice, Lindley and Sydney.

God’s blessings, love, and grace.


Parenting 101, part two

Here is another Parenting 101 principle: Don’t believe everything your children tell you happened at school.

I am not suggesting that you regard your child as a liar. I am suggesting that you be wise. A pastor I once worked with used to say, “There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth.” There is truth to his statement. Your child will inevitably tell the story from her perspective and so will tell it a certain way. She will include certain details while omitting others. She will reverse the order of events or remember something wrong or make inferences that sound like facts.

Or perhaps she is lying. That is indeed a possibility. Solomon wrote in Proverbs that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. That includes sins like lying. If you believe your child is incapable of lying, you should go back to what the Bible says about her.

So don’t automatically believe everything your child says about what happened at school. Instead, try to understand what happened as best you can. Ask your child questions in a calm and even tone. Seek facts, not interpretations and inferences. Then, call or approach your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Avoid accusing your teacher before hearing her perspective. Ask what happened and listen carefully.

I have observed parents who listen to the story their child tells and then go to the teacher and point the finger angrily, accusing the teacher of unfairness or inconsistency without allowing the teacher a single word of explanation. Also, I have observed parents who listen to the story their child tells, accept every word, and then refuse to go to the teacher at all but instead bury the grievance, which quickly rots into bitterness and anger. In either case, this is a formula for a poisoned parent-teacher relationship. The Bible calls us to peace, not poison.

My own children have come home and reported an occurrence at school that was unsettling or problematic. We talked to the teacher and found out that what really happened was quite different from what we were told. Or, we found out that what happened was accurate, but it had been dealt with. In either case reacting based on my children’s account alone — or reacting with my emotions bent out of shape — would have been the worst thing I could have done.

A teacher once said, “If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to believe everything he says happens at home.” Sounds like a good agreement to abide by. 


Parenting 101

I enjoy Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, not just for the wacky humor, but because Watterson gets us into the mind of a 6-year-old so that we see the world through a child’s eyes (even if that child happens to be a precocious daydreamer like Calvin). One cartoon pictures Calvin as a square peg being beaten into a round hole, than as a zombie, a robot, a hamster on a wheel, a parrot, and a prisoner on a chain gang. At the end of the strip, Hobbes asks, “Another typical day at school?”

What is it like for the other guy? How do things change if I look through his eyes? We should be asking these questions often in many relationships of life, and no less in the complex of relationships that make up the family-school connection. As an educator I try often to see things through the eyes of my students or their parents. As a school parent myself, it’s not too hard to see how the view looks from the other side of my school administrator desk.

Reaching the end of another school year, it strikes me that it is a good time to take stock of how to be a good Regents Academy parent. Call it Parenting 101. Here and in a few subsequent posts, I will offer some suggestions for how to be a good school parent.

First, realize that the school relationship is a partnership, not a solo act.

Resist the temptation to be a drop-off parent who thinks, “They do the educating. I do the parenting. I pay them thousands of dollars so that I don’t have to worry about the education part.” No, parenting is educating. We are your partners in fulfilling your responsibility under God to educate your children.

When you approach school as a partnership rather than as a responsibility that you have abdicated or shifted, it changes everything. You get involved with the day-to-day progress of your children. You go over spelling lists and discuss the literature of the week and review math facts and probe your child’s Bible knowledge. You spot weaknesses to work on and strengths to praise and celebrate. You see the teacher’s role as an adjunct to what you are already doing. You support the teacher in countless ways as a co-laborer rather than as an mere spectator. You develop trust with your child’s teacher as you work together with him or her.

Teachers love it when parents are deeply involved with the academic progress of their students. And the opposite is true as well: teachers get frustrated with parents who are distant and only minimally involved in the education of their children. The first matter of Parenting 101 is to be an involved mom or dad who takes seriously your responsibility under to God in the education of your children.


Leftovers on the Whiteboard

It’s the time of year a teacher begins to wonder whether or not everything’s been taught.  Sitting at my desk with a view of the whiteboard, I read the lengthy list of Latin verbs we dissected today.  My notes for our final paper are still on the board.  As we listed some main characters from the books we read this year, my students continued to express their awe of all they had completed this year.  Someone said, “That was this year!  I thought Estella happened last year!”  The names of Asian mountains, Pamirs and Tian Shan, are left on my board from the geography bee we enjoy holding at the end of the week.  Beautiful African maps that were colored and labeled by each student hang on my walls.  Piles of notebooks to be graded spill almost into the hallway.  One student, without stopping to think, called out the answer to the question about why Texas’ statehood was denied after we gained our independence from Mexico.

I’m hoping they’ve learned.  I’m hoping they’ve learned more of history, grammar and advanced mathematical procedures.  I’m hoping they’ve learned how to translate Latin sentences with relative ease.  I’m hoping they’ve learned how to get along in a world that isn’t always easy to deal with.  Most of all, I’m hoping they’ve learned that their sixth grade teacher loves them deeply!


An 18-Year-Old in K-Prep?

One of the things I love about Regents Academy is the way our students live together as a family. It is a  unique element of our school’s culture. Recently the seniors went down the hall to read aloud to the grammar school  students — and they all loved it.

Here is a clip featuring Parker Andrews reading to the 4-year-olds in the K-Prep class. One of the benefits (among many) of sending your 4-year-old to Regents is the way she will be cared for, not just by a loving teacher, but by dozens of big sisters and brothers. And one of the benefits of sending your high schooler to Regents is the way he is encouraged to be a leader among his fellows students. I am truly thankful to the Lord and proud of our students.