No Child Left Unknown: Building a Thriving House System

If you’re looking for a thriving student culture where students feel a sense of belonging and purpose, consider starting a house system. An intentional approach to sorting students across common interests, abilities, age and intellect helps a house system function as the best place for students to flourish. Engaging students in the process of developing the structure is essential, so we’ll discuss how Trinity’s students have helped with decisions and offered fresh perspective on still-developing traditions. We will also explain the mechanics of getting started and the weekly task of cultural maintenance.

Jane Houchin

Jane Houchin has her bachelor's degree from North Carolina State and a master's degree in education from Clemson University. Jane has taught at Trinity Academy of Raleigh since the school began in 1995. A er years of service as a chemistry teacher and Student Care Director, Jane transitioned into the role of Upper School Head in 2016.

Jonathan Horner

Jonathan received his bachelor's degree in history from Appalachian State University, and a master's degree in Christian Ethics from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been at Trinity Academy since 2008, where he teaches high school humanities and religious studies. Asked to lead the student culture in 2013, he founded the house system in 2014, and now co-leads the school's honor council.

Navigating Middle Earth: Creating Community in Logic School

Logic School is often viewed as just a bridge between the Grammar and Rhetoric years, but these years are a time of great change and growth for students. Enriching these years with a true sense of community among the students is essential to a successful Logic School. However, creating a sense of belonging and a true feeling of community among the students can be challenging, particularly as a school grows in size. With over 170 students, the Geneva School of Boerne Logic School has found success in cultivating community and unity through a Tolkien-themed annual celebration. This tradition fosters community and is highly anticipated by students, as well as faculty. In this session, we will explore how to create a Logic School honor code, how to use devotion groups to create fellowship across grade levels and the importance of celebrating together.

Mary Clifford

Mary Clifford has been in the field of education for almost 20 years and has taught at the Geneva School of Boerne for 12 years. She currently teaches 6th-grade English and 8th-grade dialectic. She is a two-time recipient of the Paideia Award for excellence in teaching in both the Grammar and Logic Schools. She and her husband have two sons who are both graduates of the Geneva School of Boerne. Mary is an avid reader, paddleboarder and Francophile.

Why Schools Teach But Don’t Educate

Jacques Barzun in his book Teacher in America satirizes the way many use the word “education” as the great solution – “education” is meant to do everything the world leaves undone so the prevailing dogma has become that “education is the hope of the world.” Schools, he says, are better off doing what they are designed to do: teach. Not that he is down on education. He simply believes that education is the “lifelong discipline of the individual by himself, encouraged by a reasonable opportunity to lead a good life” and that education is synonymous with civilization. “Civilization,” he says, “is a long slow process which cannot be ‘given’ in a short course.”

Of course he is right—and wrong. Education is a much broader concept than teaching (or schooling) and the word is used to cover what Barzun calls “abysses of emptiness.” But while schools should focus on teaching extremely well, they still can and should participate in the broader enterprise of education. Especially classical Christian schools.

Classical Christian schools aspire to actually educate students. Our tradition and the Scriptures give us no alternative. The apostle Paul makes it clear that our aim is to educate children in the fullest sense of the word—the Vulgate even uses the Latin word educate (imperative form of educare) in Ephesians 6: 5: “Fathers bring up (educate) your children in the instruction of the Lord.” The Greek for “instruction” is paideia, a very rich word that can also be translated as “discipline”
or “training.” It connotes the Greek view of making a man of excellence, which was the goal of the Greek polis. Moses in Deut. 6:4-9 also makes it clear that a child’s education is parent-centered and occurs in every place (“when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”). Classical schools that stand in the place of parents are given a comprehensive call to educate and not merely to teach.

Now here’s the rub. Schools, on their own, cannot educate students. The education of a human being – no less a Christian human being – is a large target that encompasses much more than the multiplication table, historical dates, even the mastery of grammar, logic and rhetoric. For schools to fancy that they are actually educating students involves a serious commitment beyond the classroom and even from the student himself.

If schools are to do more than teach they must be communal—they must be in a community partnership with parents, pastors, family, friends and, chiefly, with the student himself. It is, in fact, a “culture of learning” involving an interdependence of all these people that results in a genuine education and no mere diploma. It is often observed that there is simply no hope for education unless the student learns to learn and learns to love learning. This rarely happens on account of a good text, classroom, or teacher. It frequently happens when everywhere a child turns he finds the paideia of the Lord pursued by parents, family, teachers, friends and his church.

Every classical Christian school would do well then to work intentionally and fervently to cultivate friendship and camaraderie among students, teachers, parents, churches and supporters. By doing this our schools will become the hub of bonafide communities
of learning that will raise up the next generation of Christian leaders and change our world. As busy as we are with operating a school and teaching, we cannot neglect the profound need we have to actually help craft an education.