News


With Foresight and Courage

The mass shooting in Sutherland Springs is too horrific for most of us to imagine. The tragic deaths of 26 people and at least that many wounded, gathered in a church to worship the Lord God, no less, at the hands of a bloodthirsty, evil man bent on destroying as many men, women, and children as possible, leaves us all shaken and disturbed. The headline has become all too common, and the locales are etched in our memories: Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Aurora. Churches and schools should be safe places, yet, in a world we feel hardly able to recognize, they have become dangerous places.

One of the reasons parents send their children to Regents Academy is so that they will be in a secure environment. Parents want their child’s mind, soul, and relationships to be safe; a Christ-centered school offers the promise of these types of safety. But parents want their child’s physical safety to be guarded also. Ultimately, of course, no place is perfectly safe. The reality of a sin-sick, fallen world means that evil men bent on doing harm will do their harm, despite our precautions. Living in a free and open society means that we take the risk of people abusing their freedoms with perverted purposes.

The board and staff of Regents Academy know that our school’s parents care deeply about the safety of their children. We take it upon ourselves as a sacred trust to secure and guard the students throughout the school day to the best of our ability. We have many safety precautions and protocols in place: safety plans, security cameras, locked doors, lockdown procedures, 911 buttons, and others. Ultimately, our best safety feature is our teachers themselves, who carefully shepherd their students, watching for threats and staying ready to take action if the need arises. Vigilance is their byword.

Threats do exist, and no multiplication of plans and protocols can prevent all dangers. Ultimately, we pray for the Lord’s watchcare, and we trust Him to be our strong tower. “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved” (Ps 62:6). God does not promise that no harm will ever come to us. Indeed, His sovereign purpose for us often includes danger, hardship, and suffering. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Yet the Lord calls us to exercise prudence, to fulfill our duties with foresight and courage. Please know that it is our purpose at Regents to do so to the best of our ability.

Together, we trust the Lord, and we ask for His mercy on us, our children, and our grandchildren. And we pray for the hurting folks in Sutherland Springs, who have been asked to drink a bitter cup we hope never to drink.


A Vision for Scholar-Teachers

I minored in history in college, and one of my professors was, um, memorable, in his own way. The class was called “The Age of Reason,” and we were supposed to be learning about the Enlightenment in the 18th C. However, this professor had dedicated his scholarly life to studying 18th C. French gardens, and that was all – I mean all – he lectured on. He assigned three books (all about French gardens), and gardens were all he appeared to care about. In fact, it was obvious to me that while he loved his subject, he merely tolerated his students (oddly, he hardly ever made eye contact with us). Did you ever have a teacher like that?

Arthur Holmes, in his book Building the Christian Academy, wrote,

If we consider the art or science that is taught, then it is a contemplative life devoted to the truth; but if we consider students and their needs, then it is indeed an active life engaged in the affairs of this world for the common good. It is not a choice between the two, for with a duty to both the discipline and the student, the teacher should in reality be a teacher-scholar.

So which is it: should teachers love their subject or their students? If Dr. Holmes is right, the answer is “yes.”

In the classical Christian vision for education, the teacher is a not simply a technician who has studied the science of pedagogy. Rather, the teacher is a scholar who leads “a contemplative life devoted to the truth.” Should the teacher be skilled in the science of pedagogy? Absolutely. But a teacher’s greatest trait is a love for learning and for truth (historical truth, mathematical truth, language truth, etc.). She shares that love for learning with her students. She is first and foremost a pursuer of truth and of the One who is the Truth.

And of course a classical Christian teacher doesn’t just love his subject; he loves his students. He leads “an active life engaged in the affairs of this world for the common good” – and what greater good is there than training children to live for God? Students are image bearers of the Triune God. They aren’t pupils filling desks, with teachers filling their pockets by filling the students’ heads. Teachers are called to give themselves away to their students, to invest in them, and to approach them as dearly loved children.

Teachers who love their students but don’t love their subject can never lead their students to love learning. Teaching is always incarnational, and teachers are called to model their love for truth before their pupils in order for them to be transformed into their teacher’s image.

Teachers who love their subject but don’t love their students will be distant, harsh, and self-involved. Learning is drudgery when it’s about the teacher grinding through his pet subject or it’s merely about checking off the stuff you have to do to fulfill the class requirements. That drives students away. But love draws them. Relationships are powerful things.

I can still remember those long periods sitting under my French garden professor (I struggle even to remember his name). But let me tell you about Mr. Grove or Mr. Orlofsky or Dr. Lea. They were passionate for their subjects, but they loved me, too (somehow – I don’t think I was very lovable back then).

Teachers at Regents Academy aim to properly balance passion for our subjects and love for our students. The vision for scholar-teachers, with “duty to both the discipline and the student,” is a worthy vision. It is one we are committed to.


Congratulations, All-Region Musicians!

Three Regents Academy students were recently selected for the Texas Music Educators Association Region 4/21 orchestras.

Ninth grader Shelby Rotramel was selected from dozens of violinists who auditioned for the All-Region high school orchestra. Eighth grader Mason Baker was selected 2nd chair in the double bass section of the middle school orchestra, and seventh grader Karys Alders was selected for the middle school orchestra first violin section.
Congratulations, Shelby, Mason, and Karys! We are very proud of you!
Pictured, from left, are Karys Alders, Mason Baker, and Shelby Rotramel.

 

 

 


Haiku Contest Winners

Regents Academy 4th-8th graders celebrated two of God’s most magnificent gifts — poetry and autumn — with a haiku writing contest. The students each wrote autumn-themed haiku and submitted them in two categories: 4th-6th grades and 7th-8th grades. The poems are simply delightful to read, but the seniors were tasked with judging them, which was a difficult job indeed. The winning haiku were announced in Morning Assembly:

  • 4th-6th grade: 1st place, Mary Kate Hill; 2nd place, Sydney Rotramel; 3rd place, Ella Furniss.
  • 7th-8th grade: 1st place, Sydney Cunyus; 2nd place, Holden Kelly; 3rd place, Christian Castleberry.

And here are the winning haiku (Mary Kate’s above, and Sydney’s below):

Thank you, 1st and 2nd graders, for coloring the lovely fall leaves, and thank you, Sherry Wiggins, Lori Cunyus, and Tanya Kelly, for teaching haiku writing!


Living in a Circle

He was called the gadfly of Athens for good reason, pestering 5th century Greeks with endless questions. Ultimately, the Athenians shut him up by giving him hemlock to drink, ostensibly for polluting the minds of Athenian youth. But his quest for wisdom remains and is embodied in anyone who admits ignorance in order to find truth.

Imagine Socrates having a conversation with a college student on the campus of a contemporary American university. Author Peter Kreeft envisions just this scenario in The Best Things in Life. Here we pick up in the middle of a conversation between Socrates and college student Peter Pragma (Pragma – get it?):

Socrates: What do you need money for?

Peter: Everything! Everything I want costs money.

Socrates: For instance?

Peter: Do you know how much it costs to raise a family nowadays?

Socrates: And what would you say is the largest expense in raising a family nowadays?

Peter: Probably sending the kids to college.

Socrates: I see. Let’s review what you have said. You are reading this book to study for your exam, so that you can pass it and your course, to graduate and get a degree, to get a good job, to make a lot of money, to raise a family and send your children to college.

Peter: Right.

Socrates: And why will they go to college?

Peter: Same reason I’m here. To get good jobs, of course.

Socrates: So they can send their children to college?

Peter: Yes.

Socrates: Have you ever heard the expression “arguing in a circle”?

Peter: No, I never took logic.

Socrates: Really? I never would have guessed it.

Peter: You’re teasing me.

Socrates: Really?

Peter: I’m a practical man. I don’t care about logic, just life.

Socrates: Then perhaps we should call what you are doing “living in a circle.” Have you ever asked yourself a terrifying question? What is the whole circle there for?

Kreeft, through the voice of Socrates, is exposing a great flaw of modern thinking about education: pragmatism. A pragmatic philosophy of education puts people on the hamster wheel of passing tests to pass classes to get degrees to get jobs to make money to have children who will start the vicious cycle all over again.

There is certainly a practical dimension to education. We need jobs that will pay bills, and our children need them also. But something we need more than jobs and money is an answer to Socrates’ question: “What is the whole circle there for?” And that is precisely what classical Christian education brings to the table.

The wealth of wisdom bequeathed to us from the Great Tradition and a robust Christian worldview show us the way. And when children are immersed in the wisdom and virtue and worldview-shaping influences of the Great Conversation, under the tutelage of godly teachers committed to Christian truth, then our children learn not just skills that will get them jobs and money but receive eternal gifts that surpass these things beyond measure.

“What is the whole circle there for?” We strive to take this question into account every day as we educate children at Regents Academy. We are glad to partner with you to do so.


Congratulations, Isaiah Bertke! National Merit Commended Student

Congratulations to Regents Academy senior Isaiah James Bertke, who has been named a Commended Student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.

About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized this month for their performance on the 2016 PSAT and for their exceptional academic promise. Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2016 competition and took the PSAT during their junior year.

Pictured is Isaiah with Headmaster David Bryant.

Congratulations, Isaiah, and may God continue to bless you!


Music and Memorization: Tried-and-True Methods

Recently the Imaginative Conservative published an article titled “How Music and Memorization Can Save Our Failing Schools.” The article, by Annie Holmquist, suggests that tried-and-true methods such as rote learning are a big part of the cure for what is ailing contemporary education. Indeed, classical Christian education goes “back to the future,” with its rediscovery of practices used for centuries but largely abandoned in most contemporary settings. Holmquist’s article is well worth your time.

————–

How Music and Memorization Can Save Our Failing Schools

By Annie Holmquist

We all want the best for our kids. Because of this desire, it’s quite discouraging to see when efforts to boost progress in reading, math, and other subjects flatline in schools across the country.

On the other hand, this perpetual stagnation causes us to sit up and notice when a school manages to boost its achievement in dramatic fashion.

Such is the case with Feversham Primary Academy in Great Britain. According to The Guardian, Feversham was a failure a few years ago. Achievement was low and seemed unlikely to improve given that many students hail from disadvantaged backgrounds or are English Language Learners.

But as The Guardian explains, the school began using the “Kodály approach, which involves teaching children to learn, subconsciously at first, through playing musical games.” By teaching these musical games and encouraging memorization of classic works such as Shakespeare, the school has experienced the following change:

Seven years ago Feversham was in special measures and making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Today it is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and is in the top 10% nationally for pupil progress in reading, writing and maths, according to the most recent data. In 2011, the school was 3.2 percentage points behind the national average in English. This year 74% of its pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, against a national average of 53%. It is 7.1 points above the average for reading and 3.4 above for writing. In maths, the school was 2.4 points behind the national average in 2011 and is now 6.5 above it. Its results for disadvantaged pupils are well above average.

Such increases are quite impressive and appear to mirror the forty percent achievement gains another British school experienced after incorporating Shakespeare into lesson plans.

So why is it that these simple techniques appear to produce such stellar results?

The answer to that question may be found in what music and memorization appear to do the brain. Research suggests that exposing children to music fosters brain development and boosts their “vocabulary and reading ability.” Likewise, memorization “exercises” a child’s brain, training children to pay attention while also laying a foundation upon which they can build future facts and insights.

These components are core elements of classical education. In the grade school years, also known as the grammar stage, classical education capitalizes on the love children have for rote learning, using songs and rhymes to instill historical dates, scientific facts, and famous literature in their brains. When they move beyond these years, they find they have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips from which they can draw, make connections, and spin off new thoughts.

The funny thing is, while this common-sense approach to early childhood education was standard practice for centuries, it has been abandoned in recent years. Shunning rote learning, we have instead told young children to draw on their own (limited) experience or feelings when completing school assignments.

Classical education methods of music and rote learning have been experiencing a revival in many home and private schools in recent years and have enjoyed a good deal of success. The dramatic turnaround in the Feversham school suggests the success of these methods is not limited to those of a “privileged” status.

Is it time we ask ourselves if modern schools have been too hasty in tossing out the rote learning methods of music and memorization?


What’s Going On?

Let me brag on our school for a minute or two. God has blessed us in so many ways, and I am continually thankful for all the good gifts and wonderful people He has brought together at Regents Academy. Right now I’m thinking about the many extracurricular opportunities at our school these days. They are so much more than just extra stuff to do! Through our extracurriculars students’ abilities and gifts grow and develop, students find platforms to explore interests and passions, and students are given opportunities to be servant leaders.

What are these opportunities?

High School Clubs

The Regents chapters of the Key Club and the National Honor Society afford many opportunities for service, leadership, and academic recognition. These groups are active both within our school and also in the community.

Sports Programs

Regents has active teams in cross country, soccer, basketball, and track and field. Each team is led by a devoted volunteer coach, and our student athletes excel, even with a rigorous academic load and many other commitments. Students also participate in Volleyball Club and Golf Club.

Music Programs

The Regents Orchestra meets weekly and performs several times per year. Competitive choirs also meet weekly and compete through the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). Many students also compete individually through TAPPS in piano, strings, guitar, and voice. In addition, three music teachers provide lessons on campus during the school day.

4-H

The brand new Regents chapter of 4-H has gotten off to a strong start, with much interest among students and parents, and a new grant for gardens that will be tended by students. A dedicated group of student officers is doing a great job leading the club.

Speech and Academics Team

Also competing through TAPPS, our high school team meets weekly, with students preparing to compete in tests (math, current events, literary criticism, etc.) and speaking events (solo and duet acting, prose and poetry, extemporaneous speaking, etc.). Our team has had a lot of success in recent years, winning several state championships.

Spelling Club

A number of excited students gather frequently to prepare for the spelling bee, which is coming up in late November.

And remember – all of this is in addition to classes, field trips, music, art, drama, and plentiful activities that fill our halls and classrooms during the school day!

Our school’s mission is, in part, to “equip students to lead lives of virtue, display mature character, love learning, and serve the Triune God.” Extracurricular activities are one important avenue for students to benefit from this great purpose. There’s a place for every student to get involved and grow into the man or woman God wants them to become.