by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!
The 5th and 6th grade classes sponsored Regents Academy’s Veterans Day celebration with patriotic observances, original poetry, expressions of gratitude, and breakfast on November 10. About a dozen veterans were present to join the celebration. We appreciate all our brave men and women who have served our great nation!
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.
It was a chilly, soggy Wednesday, but 13 Regents juniors and seniors, along with 4 adults, trekked to Plantersville, Texas, to step back into the Medieval and Renaissance world and enjoy a day of jousting, lords and ladies, elephant rides, and giant smoked turkey legs. It’s a G-rated version of the TRF called School Days, and it is loads of fun.
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.