Classical, Christian school start-up’s are often founded by people of conviction and action. Their founding board’s have “skin in the game” and care about the outcome.
Classical, Christian schools are fueled by two things: prayer and money. This session will leave the prayer part to you (keep doing it). This session might help you with the money part.
Enrollment and Re-Recruitment: Why do students come to your school? More importantly, why do they stay? Do you know? Are you sure? If not, you are quite possibly jeopardizing your ability to deliver on your mission. Building on the data of the preceding session, we will explore management and teacher strategies that will make a difference in a family’s decision for classical Christian education.
John Heaton is a native of Orlando, Florida. He has concluded his 20th year as the second Headmaster of New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, Virginia. New Covenant is a classical Christian School serving around 450 students in Pre-K through 12th Grade.
What Matters Most at School: Data can show us precisely the driving factors that sustain academic excellence over time. How is this to be accomplished with GenX’ers and Millenials? This session will explore those drivers using New Covenant as a case study. The practical takeaways will include what school boards, administrations and faculties must do to achieve real academic results.
John Heaton is a native of Orlando, Florida. He has concluded his 20th year as the second Headmaster of New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, Virginia. New Covenant is a classical Christian School serving around 450 students in Pre-K through 12th Grade.
Technology tends to promote access to information for larger and larger groups of people, and contributes to the overall well-being of individuals and communities. Thus, technology is a sociological force with results that can be demonstrated, if not accurately measured. In the last 75 years, technology has been viewed by educators with narrower, but higher hopes. This session shows that professional educators tend to embrace technical modalities with somewhat utopian hopes for learning, a particularly unique sociological outcome. The data show that technology consistently fails to affect or effect learning; moreover, educators and policy makers often promote technologies in the classroom that have negligible positive effects, or even negative effects upon students. It is increasingly evident that technology is deployed in ways that are consistent with any number of theories of child development, learning, and epistemology. This suggests that technology is not leading a revolution in learning, but is, paradoxically, trailing in the wake of dominant educational theories.
John Heaton, BA, MA, MALS, has served since 1998 as the Headmaster at New Covenant Schools, a classical, Christian school in Lynchburg, VA, serving 465 students. In addition to his duties as headmaster, he teaches Intermediate Greek for seniors in the School of Rhetoric. He serves as one of the parish priests at All Saints Church, a traditional Episcopal parish a liated with New Covenant Schools. He is married to Heidi and has four children.
It’s the most profitable 54 pages you could read in the next month. I’m talking about Josef Pieper’s, A Brief Reader on the Virtues of the Human Heart. Pieper’s clarity and style – even the clunky passages woodenly translated from the original German – quickly induced me to welcome him as I would an old friend.
But first, some background if you haven’t read anything by Pieper. As a Catholic Social Philosopher, he was part of the neo-Thomistic revival of the twentieth century. Pieper isn’t well known among English-speaking Protestant Evangelicals, having spent the bulk of his career at the University of Münster where he taught from 1950 to 1976. Thereafter, until his death in 1997, he continued to lecture as Professor Emeritus. If you have hung out at SCL conferences, however, you’ve no doubt noticed on the table his better-known book, Leisure the Basis of Culture, an outstanding read that we’ll save for another day.
His gift to the German-speaking world was his translation of Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, suggesting his appreciation for brothers across traditions. His gift to us (one of them!) is this little reader nicely packaged in a thin 5×7 paper cover – suitable for your coat pocket. It’s so small it doesn’t even get notice on his Wikipedia entry, no doubt because it is a digest of his longer works on the virtues. As such, it’s a valuable introduction.
Pieper must be read with an awareness of some basic commitments. His sympathies are in the Scholastic tradition, notably with Aquinas, while remaining surprisingly more Platonic than Aristotelian. As Gilbert Meilaender noted in his obituary of Pieper in First Things, he had “inhabit[ed] a system of thought long enough to see the world in its terms. He had so digested Aquinas as to make him his own.” And, while Greek thought is not far beneath the surface, it is transcribed into theological constructs, viewed through the corrective lenses of biblical reflection. For example, Pieper says that “all duty is based on being. Reality is the basis of ethics. Goodness is the standard of reality” (11). In other words ethics is based on metaphysics.
The book begins boldly by asserting that “virtue is…the realization of the human capacity for being” (9). Thus, a “man is wise when all things taste to him as they really are” (21). Reality – and knowledge of it – is essential to an ordered and flourishing life.
When Pieper talks about reality, however, he doesn’t mean brute reality the way the Greeks talked about it. He insists that reality is the Triune God, and a Christian is one who, in faith, not only embraces this, but strives in hope for the fulfillment of his being in eternal life. This brings us to the heart of Pieper’s thought, the virtues: love, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. These are the means by which one apprehends the truth of God. “Becoming a moral person occurs in the individual’s appropriate response to reality” (17). This is a common theme not only here, but across Pieper’s writings, the close connection between intellectual and moral virtue. In order to grasp the reality of God, which is ultimate and final, we have to become a certain kind of person. If Augustine taught us to believe in order that we might know, Pieper reminds us that we have to behave, in order that we might know. “For us, the…connection that links the knowledge of truth to the condition of purity has vanished from our consciousness” (42). For the classical, Christian teacher, the implications for moral formation in education are profound. We teach
in a culture that intentionally and powerfully attempts to separate a student’s behavior, and his loves, from his intellectual development. Pieper says that this cannot be done.
Drawn out in summary in the Reader, Pieper shows us progressively how the virtues link together as pathways to truth. I can reduce them to some axioms; you’ll have to read the book to connect the dots fully:
– On prudence: Prudence belongs to the definition of the good; it is the birth mother of all human virtue (14-15); false prudence is really covetousness, “the anxious se- nility of a frantic self-preservation bent on only its own assurance and security” (19);
On justice – Justice is not merely giving each his due; the just man who is a recipient of the gifts of God, will alone be ready to fulfill to others what he does not owe (24);
– On courage: Fortitude implies vulnerability; to be brave means to be ready to sustain a wound (25); fortitude protects a person from loving his life in such a way that he loses it (28);
– On temperance: Abandonment of the soul to the sensual world wounds the fundamental capacity of the moral person to apprehend reality and respond to it appro- priately (42);
– On hope: Human existence has the structure of hope;
we are “not yet” creatures.
And so on. Few have had the ability to navigate the world of the medieval mind. Pieper is one of them, and the Brief Reader is a gateway to that world.
A very good teacher and administrator I know has a stack of four or five good books in perpetual company on the night stand. Each demands to be read now, but at the end of a long day of teaching, paper grading, and preparation for the next day’s classes, progress is slow. That’s why I’m five years late in getting to Steven Garber’s helpful title, The Fabric of Faithfulness. Not to worry. His message is timeless enough to be appreciated when you get to it. It is imperative enough, however, to move it to the top of your stack.
His question is straightforward: Having taught stu- dents what to know, how do we help them connect belief to action such that they maintain a life of faithfulness over the long haul? To answer this question, Mr. Garber interviewed dozens of seasoned men and women from vocations in business, academia, and the Church, searching for common themes in their life experiences – those things that explain how they came to a “functional unity” (31) between “world- view and way of life” (47). Their experiences do unite, but more on that later.
The answer requires context, of course, which Mr. Garber amply supplies by the inclusion of dozens of stories of young people he has taught, mentored, pastored, or with whom he had a chance conversation over coffee on the side- walk outside the Bodleian library. These stories also unite. They share a crisis common to students from Tiananmen Square to Washington DC to Rice University.
The stream of current culture is fed by the tributaries resulting from the thaw and crack-up of the deep freeze of the Enlightenment. For two centuries academia has in- sisted on an objectivist and secular view of the world, which can be observed, measured, and quantified. But, quoting Richard Bernstein, “when values enter, they must be treated as noncognitive emotional responses or private subjective preferences” (66). In other words, the introduction of values as we interpret the facts of the world has been relegated to an interior, personal world disconnected from the public square. At bottom, it creates disjuncture between telos or purpose, and praxis, how we live (57-58), resulting in a loss of meaning, and a tendency to alienation and isolation from reality.
Enlightenment thinking may have taught us much about the world, but it has left us with incoherence as we seek to understand our place in it. The dirty water flowing from the tap has been polluted with “Nietzschean relativistic nihilism, Marxist social planning, Freudian therapy and Bultmannian historicism” (107), which Thomas Oden calls “mod rot.” The result is a definition of freedom that per- mits us “to devote ourselves to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true” (107). Each represents a labyrinth of dead-ends for students who ask, “How do I coherently connect what I believe…with the realpolitik of the public square? (66).
So far, nothing new here. However, Mr. Garber’s contribution to educators and parents who seek faithful- ness in their children – and the heart of his project – is found in the tapestry of the experiences of those seasoned men and women mentioned above. Three findings emerged: 1) Convictions – Each formed a worldview sufficient for the challenges of the modern world; 2) Character – Each found a teacher who incarnated that worldview; and 3) Community – Each forged friendships with folk whose common life was embedded in that worldview (51, 124,174). Woven together, these components proved to be powerful sustainers over the trajectory of a full life.
In the neighborhood of educators served by the SCL, everyone I know is paying close attention to the first finding, attempting to impart a robust Christian worldview, which must, as Garber notes, “bring integration to the whole of one’s existence” (126). It is the second and third findings that are particularly instructive. Helping students con- struct a worldview is challenging; after all, a worldview is a complex thing. Instructional success, however, does little to guarantee coherence over the decades-long arc of a life.
A Christian worldview is not merely a body of ideas to be mastered; it is the mainspring of commitments that must be lived out.
We should not be surprised, therefore, to find that men and women who maintain coherence in thought and behavior over time, early on found a mentor who impressed them powerfully and encouraged them as their lives took shape in young adulthood. This single realization creates an enormous horizon of opportunity for the teacher who will re-orient his professional objectives to extend beyond a student’s graduation from high school. Quoting Augustine, “…boys do not need the art of grammar which teaches cor- rect speech if they have the opportunity to grow up and live among men who speak correctly” (150). As I tell my own faculty, the teacher is the primary text, but that text must be read within the bonds of an authentic relationship.
The most difficult finding is the last – integrating into a community in which common life is embedded in that worldview. “What we believe about life and the world be- comes plausible as we see it lived out” (159). Some schools like mine overtly refer to themselves as a community but then struggle to give real legs to the claim. Many students will seek such a community in their churches, and they should. Sadly, what they will often find is more relativism, a religious practice intensely reduced to the level of individu- alism that fails to engage faith with broader culture, a pre- dictable piety flowing from post-Enlightenment “faith.” As a result – and I have witnessed this – some students will give up and leave the Faith altogether, concluding that Christian- ity should be discarded with the rest of the mod rot.
For this problem Mr. Garber does not offer an answer. But who could? He does offer a challenge along with the encouragement of grace. He has provided a densely nar- rated anecdotal account of those who have struggled to weave their own tapestry, and he has shown us how others succeeded in that effort. In doing so, he may have shown us the next step in the way forward to faithful living.
In 2009 shortly after taking office, President Obama appointed Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. After only two months on the job Mr. Duncan announced that up to 82% of America’s public schools could be failing under the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act. He argued for immediate changes to the law and initiated the “Race
to the Top” to encourage innovation in the public sector of education.
Simultaneously, a less-noticed project, but one of vastly greater importance to Christian educators, arrived from James K.A. Smith. I picked up a copy right away, and I’ve since been savoring it privately and with my faculty. No “race to the top” here; if anything, it’s a race to the past, in a vein classical educators should relish. As we often muse in classical, Christian circles, most of what we teach is not new, though nearly all of it seems revolutionary.
The burden of Desiring the Kingdom (DTK) is to explore the relationship between learning and worship, and the book is organized neatly into two sections around this theme. Dr. Smith challenges the notion that learning is merely cognitive, an assertion with which we would readily agree, but which, as he points out, we often fail to recognize in practice. Because cognitive learning takes place in the context of a set of pre-cognitive, affective dispositions, the learner possesses a whole web of desires that constitute the pre-conditions of learning. Those desires are rarely, if ever, addressed through cognitive methods teachers learn in undergraduate majors such as education or even early childhood development. Rather, affective desires
are shaped by habits, practices and influences, some of which are experienced unconsciously. Even those that are recognized are rarely comprehended as having anything to do with learning.
In short, “…because our hearts are oriented primarily by desire, by what we love, and because those desires are shaped and molded by the habit-forming practices in which we participate, it is…rituals and practices…that shape our imaginations and how we orient ourselves to the world”(25). This assertion finds broad support in Aristotle and in St. Augustine, and, as such, it is neither new nor innovative. It does answer the nagging question that makes teachers scratch their heads about why Johnny can’t read (Latin). It’s not that he can’t. It’s that he won’t. He doesn’t want to do that or many other challenging inclusions in the classical, Christian curriculum because so much of his basic desire is bent in other directions by a hundred influences that put downward pressure on Latin.
Thus, Dr. Smith moves us from the modern and reductionist view of man, homo sapiens (thinking man), to the more robust view, homo liturgicus, or worshipping man (39). It is here that DTK is most relevant, taking aim squarely at “world-view talk in its distorted form” (63). I understand his argument as offering a much needed corrective to the deficiencies that have developed in the evolving concept of “worldview.”
With the broad influence of C. S. Lewis and to a narrower degree, that of Francis Shaeffer, Christian educators have become increasingly sensitive to the fact that our presuppositions are the primary drivers that determine how we make sense of our world and inform our worldview. To give due credit, we have to admit that it has been those in the reformed tradition that have led in shaping our awareness, not to mention our understanding of this important fact. Though he doesn’t say so directly, Dr. Smith, who teaches at Calvin College, seems to be conducting an intramural critique of this 50-year old worldview project, which has been influenced by a (narrowly) resurging Calvinism. Classical, Christian educators, many of whom share the reformed tradition, have good reason to pay attention. The overt emphasis upon rationalism is evident in the literature of this tradition, and it is not an overstatement to suggest that a straight line exists from reformed theologians to the centrality of logic in the classical curriculum.
While this is by no means a critical error, Dr. Smith argues that it is incomplete. The “social imaginary,” as he puts it, “is an affective, non-cognitive understanding of the world. It is described as an imaginary (rather than a theory) because it is fueled by the stuff of the imagination rather than the intellect” (68, emphasis his). Love or desire is a “structural feature of the human being” (51) and as such it aims at a vision of the good life, turning on the “the fulcrum” of habits.
This brings us to the most compelling feature of DTK, which is the attention given to “embodiment” in learning. This theme is woven throughout the first section and leads to his discussion of practices which he helpfully describes as “thick” and “thin” (82). That is to say, many of our habits, such as brushing our teeth, are inconsequential insofar as they do not shape identity—they are thin. Our vision of the good life, however, is shaped by the “thick” habits that are “rituals of ultimate concern” (86), like going to church, engaging in daily prayer. But meeting regularly with two or three friends for breakfast might fall into a thick habit, if it contributes to and expresses our sense of community and identity in relation to others (83)
Alert educators do well to reflect upon the many rituals of day-school education, testing them along the lines of this matrix. For example, a school might establish the ordered habit of having students stand when an adult enters the classroom, a thick habit that fosters respect. That same school might discover upon reflection that the lunchroom is pure chaos between 11 and 12:30 pm, assuming that how we eat is a thin habit that can be ignored. Habits are uneven and often work at cross purposes to one another.
In Part 2 Dr. Smith takes up the specific question of worship and its relevance to the educational endeavor. He admits that many attempts at formative influences in the affective domain are not explicitly religious. Noteworthy is the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, which overtly borrows religious architecture for an
overtly secular purpose. Nevertheless, such influences are implicitly religious insofar as they mimic religious worship in their power and invitation to a way of being. Christian worship therefore should be considered as a precursor to education, if not its mainspring. At this point, many K-12 educators in classical, Christian schools will find DTK less helpful, but only because they may labor in contexts in which worship is excluded from the weekly or daily regimen of their independent, Christian school. DTK does not assert that chapel should be in your program. More broadly, he maintains that if man is fundamentally homo liturgicus, then what we worship—and most importantly— how we worship moves front and center and should not be overlooked.
This leads to a lengthy evaluation of worship in general, and, judging from the context, reformed worship in particular, although this may be misstating the case. Drawing upon diverse sources that form a broader historical point of view (Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the World, for example), Dr. Smith clearly advocates a return to an overtly sacramental view of worship and the world, which those of us in the Anglican tradition, myself included, or other liturgical traditions, would welcome.
The project weakens at this point, however, for, in spite of its length, his treatise on worship is less coherent than the first section. There is plenty to tweak the sensibilities of those in the reformed tradition, whom he assumes will not only be unfamiliar with the terminology, but experientially removed and, therefore, resistant to his liturgical proposals. Those in Orthodox, Anglican, or Catholic traditions—all of which are represented on the faculties of classical, Christian schools—will applaud the effort but leave feeling that the book only makes a good start in the right direction.
These are mild criticisms to which I would add that the book is written to the educated reader, and some will find it unnecessarily complex. While the writing style is clear, it often feels like driving down a washboard dirt road. It is heavily footnoted to the extent that the fine print is almost a book within a book. At times the attempts at emphasis or clarity bleed into redundancy. At other times it seems that the harder word could be replaced with the simpler one with a salutary effect.
Finally, there are oblique references to a variety of issues that are in current debate in the author’s circles, which may or may not attract attention from a casual reader. Nevertheless, they may clang on some ears. Two are worth mentioning, as in the reference to “the minister [who] raises her hands, and we stretch out ours to receive (emphasis mine)” (207). Okay, maybe in his church she is the minister and that’s normal; it’s not in mine. Dr. Smith is not even arguing the point, but one wonders at whom he is throwing the elbow. Perhaps more serious is the following explanatory comment which really doesn’t explain: “I don’t mean to communicate an alarmist fear of culture in the spirit of the ‘culture wars’ (which, by the way, I think are often tilting at windmills rather than targeting the real, substantive threats to Christian discipleship—fixated on gay marriage but eagerly affirming capitalism)” (126). This reviewer doesn’t think that opposing gay marriage is tilting at windmills or that it is such a great trespass to affirm free markets.
No author expects that you will agree on every point, even in serious matters. In DTK, Dr. Smith has given voice to what many classical, Christian educators have been thinking for a long time. Education is not merely the transfer of information from teacher to student, but the shaping of a whole person. If you wish to reflect on how that process might proceed, DTK is a very good place to begin the conversation.
I received a notice in the mail recently from the 100-year old Episcopal boarding school down the street announcing the appointment of a new headmaster. It took my breath away when I looked to the bottom of the letter to read the school’s mission statement, which for a century has been the verse from St. Paul to the Ephesians, “…until we all come to the full measure of the stature of Christ.” This statement is written in Greek in the stained glass of the campus chapel. The statement at the bottom of stationery, however, proclaimed boldly: “until we all come to full stature.” The “of Christ” part was neatly deleted with a simple keystroke, so I presume the students are just growing up with no particular end in mind. Well now, might we be just a wee bit embarrassed about Jesus? Clearly, mission drift has been going on in that school for a long time.
The hard work of sustaining fidelity to a clear mission challenges the most august and established institutions. The last twenty- five years has been a founding generation of classical schools in large part because the mission of providing classical education was dropped by schools that once espoused it.
Since the publication of Wilson’s Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, there has been a renaissance of schools rising to the effort called for in that and subsequent books. There is a palpable energy felt in the hallways of these schools, freshness in the spirit of teachers in the classroom, an enthusiasm unmatched in any sector of private education. Once the first flush of success dims, however, mission drift can be a great enemy.
The mission of a school is obviously the stewardship of the “owners,” the board of directors. Boards, however, can only affect a relatively small handful of factors that keep the school on course, and most of those are systemic – hire the right head of school, enact policies that are on mission, etc. They cannot – and should not – interfere in the daily discharge of the school’s work. Thus, mission drift is most successfully attenuated when there is buy-in to the mission from top to bottom. Board members must be appropriately profiled and selected, but so must faculty members and students themselves.
School heads are in the single strongest position to guard the mission because they work directly both with boards and with staff. That doesn’t mean that teachers and other administrators don’t play a role. Here are a few suggestions that headmasters and faculty members might try:
Read your school’s mission statement out loud routinely. It sounds cheesy but lead teachers, deans, or heads of schools should consider beginning formal faculty meetings with a unison recitation of the mission statement. I’ve done this for more than ten years, and my faculty agenda template includes the mission statement and the collect of the day (ours is an Anglican school). Every meeting begins with these, and I have often found that even some minor detail on the agenda links directly with something major in the mission statement. Moreover, as time passes, this practice helps newer faculty members obtain a sense of what is important to you. Use those first moments of a meeting to “catechize” new members of the faculty in the big picture in a conversational and uncontrived way. Over time, they will come to understand that the mission is who you are. If you find that reading your mission statement this way is awkward, ask yourself if that feeling is because the mission statement sounds disconnected from what you’re actually doing. If the answer is yes, you’re already in mission drift.
Print your mission statement everywhere.
If you’re sending out printed information, include the mission statement appropriately on every print piece. Will this avoid mission drift? Of course not; but it’s a simple thing, that, over time contributes to establishing the main thing in everyone’s minds. Don’t overlook it.
Consciously justify programming in terms of the mission. Every program a school starts, changes, or eliminates, should be done because there is a missional purpose. If a school has an athletic program, it should be because it comports with the stated mission of the school. A perceptive leader will quickly realize that this drives other less visible policies. If a school’s sports program, for example, is driven by its mission, does it make sense to restrict students from playing sports because of poor grades? Maybe; maybe not. Would a student be withdrawn from, say, Latin, because he had a 74% average? Why then should a student be pulled from athletics if it was within the stated mission to develop students with team sports? One could substitute any number of other curricular inclusions in this example, but the point is to think through the mission and consider how it should drive policy.
Eliminate programs and practices that are not on mission. Before a school starts a new program, leadership should ask the basic question: Are we starting this because of a felt need, a temporary circumstance or because it’s within our mission? If a school’s stated mission is to educate traditional learners, it makes little sense to make significant and costly accommodations for the inevitable minority of students who present learning disabilities. I am not suggesting that a school should or shouldn’t, but before going out on that limb, the board needs to determine if it is part of the mission. A teacher in the classroom can be guided in the same way, albeit at a more granular level. If it’s the school’s stated mission to develop students who think and reason critically, one would expect that faculty and sectional team meetings would buzz with strategies to incarnate those skills in science, history, or Latin class pedagogies.
Talk openly with students about the kind of school they attend. Teachers should not take for granted that youngsters “get” the first principles of the school. They may know the buzz words, but they might not have a clue as to what Trivium, liberal arts, or dialectic actually mean for them. Take time to make the student self-consciously aware not only of what he’s learning, but of the larger commitments the school maintains. In short, provide the larger context of his efforts and the principles that are guiding that process.
Summarily, the mission of the school should not simply be a statement written down on the first page of the school’s by-laws. Every member of the school’s board, administration, faculty, and student body should be conversant in the school’s first principles that give identity and direction to their efforts. In that way everyone gets stewardship of the mission. As these constituencies gel over time, they will give unified voice to the school’s fundamental purpose, and the school’s reputation will successfully express its mission.
John Heaton and Leslie Moeller will share the details of their two school’ successful recent capital campaigns. Geneva School kicked off its first ever capital campaign in November 2008 immediately following the crash that became the worst recession in recent history. At the time, the school enrollment was just under 400 students and they offered grades K through 10. Three years later, the campaign has raised $6.5 million and funded a new upper school campus and a competition gym. New Covenant Schools went public with its first capital campaign two weeks after 9/11. Since that time, the school has grown to nearly 375 students, conducted a second campaign and is now heading into a third phase this summer, the economy notwithstanding. Heaton and Moeller will share the good, bad and ugly of raising money in tough times.
John Heaton is finishing his thirteenth year as the Headmaster at New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, VA, serving 370 students in grades K-12. John is an Episcopal minister, and he and his wife Heidi, have four children from third through ninth grades. John holds a Masters degree in theology and is a candidate for the MA in Liberal Studies at Hollins University.
Leslie Moeller has been a member of the School Board for Geneva School of Boerne, Texas for four years and has served as President for the past two years. Geneva has just completed its eleventh year and has a student enrollment of approximately 460 students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. In addition to her board responsibilities, Leslie is one of two coaches who started the Geneva Forensic Team which competed in tournaments throughout the state and qualified for the State Championship Tournament this past spring. Leslie has previously taught middle school language arts and debate and served as Head of School at Geneva. She holds a BA in English Literature and Economics from the University of Virginia and she has a J.D from Boston College. Her two sons are in eighth and eleventh grades at Geneva and she has a three year old daughter still at home.