A Testimony: Implementing Classical Christian Education Internationally

This panel is reserved for leaders in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to make regional plans and discuss DFW issues in Classical Christian Education.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is from Lexington, Kentucky, but worked in schools in Ohio and Virginia before joining Covenant Classical School in 2009. Eric earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University, and a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. He has taught history, political science, psychology and philosophy in public schools, and served as an assistant principal for several years. In 2006, Eric felt called to join the classical Christian school movement and became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his leadership roles, Eric taught apologetics, theology, philosophy of religion, and served as thesis director.

Jeff Hendricks

Jeff Hendricks is the Head of School at Providence Christian School. He joined Providence in 2005, first teaching algebra, and then middle school English and history before being appointed head of middle school in 2014. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Gordon College and a master’s degree from the University of Dallas. His wife Jessica is also an educator. The couple has three children, the oldest of which currently attends Providence.

Robert Littlejohn

Dr. Robert Littlejohn has served as Head of School at The Covenant School in Dallas Texas since April of 2018. Previously he served as Head of School at Trinity Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA and as Director of Distance Learning for a consortium of Private and State Colleges and Universities in Minnesota. As a Ph.D. Biologist (Washington State University), he has authored two College Biology Laboratory texts and has published 26 reports of original research in refereed journals in the fields of Ecology, Plant Physiology, Biochemistry, and Science Educational Theory. He is coauthor with Charles T. Evans of Wisdom and Eloquence: a Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, published by Crossway Books. He was founding Headmaster for New Covenant Schools in Virginia, founding Executive Director for the Society for Classical Learning, and a founding board member for the American School of Lyon, France. He is a Certified Facilitator of Appreciative Inquiry™, a former Accreditation Reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission and Advance_Ed, and a consultant to colleges and schools across the nation.

Rejecting Disciplinary Insularity and Irrelation

It may seem normal that, with increasing specialization in our world, particular academic disciplines tend to stand alone, becoming insular and standing in irrelation to other subjects.  Christian educators must not only resist such a trend, but also commit to seek out, delight in, and communicate the connectedness, compatibility, and coherency of all true knowledge.  Insofar as some prominent academics, who are or have been vocal in the public square, have succeeded in convincing many people otherwise, faithful Christian educators should purposefully design their curricula such that the unity of knowledge is magnified and celebrated, and so that our students are prepared for living the life of faith in a sometimes hostile and polarized world.

Steve Mittwede

Steve Mittwede serves as Science Department Chair at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth. His academic journey began at The College of William and Mary in Virginia (BS in Geology), took him south to the University of South Carolina (MS and PhD in Geology) and Columbia International University (MA in Intercultural Studies and EdS in Educational Leadership), and took on an international flair when he studied at the Evangelical Theological College of Wales--now Union School of Theology (MTh in Modern Evangelical Theology). Steve and his bride make their home on the westernmost edge of Fort Worth, but relish opportunities to spend time with four sons and their burgeoning families. He does research and publishes every chance he gets, and is especially passionate about faith-learning integration.

Raising Sturdy Kids

This session will provide valuable insight into current cultural and psychological dynamics that impact our students, their families and our ability to engage them. Where are we now and how did we get here? (From helicopters to snowplow parents) What has the influence of psychological thinking led to with our current view of parenting? How do we recover and then implement principles that will lead to a healthy development of Maturity? 

We will focus primarily on the “current state of affairs” of current families with the realities that most children are more fragile and have great difficulty dealing with normal rigors of life as compared to previous generations, and that most parents operate as if they need permission to effectively parent their children.

Keith McCurdy

Keith has worked with families, children, parents, and individuals for over 30 years in the field of mental health, working with more than 15,000 individuals and families. He received his Master of Arts and Education Specialist degrees from James Madison University. He is currently the President and CEO of Total Life Counseling, Inc., and is licensed in the state of Virginia as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Keith provides counseling and consulting services as well as a variety of workshops on improving parenting skills, building strong marriages, and maintaining healthy relationships. He has developed and regularly offers parenting retreats entitled “Raising Sturdy Kids” to help parents operate from the correct paradigm with their children and has extended and customized this powerful program for schools and students. For many years Keith has been a consultant and speaker nationally to businesses, churches, and schools both within and outside of the world of Classical Education. He previously served as Chairman of the Board at Faith Christian School, a Christian classical school in Roanoke, VA. Keith has been a regular contributor to The Roanoke Star with articles on children, parenting, and marriage. Keith has been featured on the Circe Institute’s podcast “The Commons," "BaseCamp Live," and "Crosspolitic" podcasts respectively.

Mission Possible Through Intentional Culture Work

In their book Mission Drift, Peter Greer and Chris Horst make the following observations: 1) mission-true culture doesn’t just happen; 2) thoughtful leaders intentionally craft the
culture of their organizations and know it is too important to delegate; 3) mission-true organizations don’t underestimate culture; 4) cultivating a purposeful and healthy culture, reinforced by good habits, will carry forward your values and safeguard your mission; and 5) great organizations get culture. In this session, we will examine best practices for shaping and guarding your school’s culture while remaining “on mission.” We’ll consider the role of a clear mission statement, along with the structures, systems, processes, policies, procedures and people that are engaged from start to finish when assimilating new parents, students, faculty and staff into your school. e goal is to protect your school’s culture beginning with one’s first encounter with your school, throughout the application process and throughout the tenure of a student culminating in the portrait of the graduate.

Russ Kapusinski

Russ serves as the Assistant Head of School at e Cambridge School in San Diego, where his contributions include managing discipline cases, conflict resolution, enculturating new and existing families, developing leaders, providing leadership for the spiritual formation of the student body, giving oversight to co-curricular programs and assisting in the strategic implantation of the school’s mission. Over the last 30 years, Russ' visionary, pastoral, collaborative leadership style has enabled him to successfully serve as a catalyst and launch new initiatives for several organizations and ministries. Russ and his wife, Diane, have three children, Joshua, 18, Caleb, 17, and Kate, 10.

Biblical Peacemaking

Ultimately, our Christian schools are in the business of human flourishing with a view to glorify God in all things, especially relationships. Biblical peacemaking is at the heart of schools that flourish. Peacemaking programs require a profound understanding of the gospel and its application to the various relationships within a school community, thereby enabling our mission statements to become a reality by God’s grace. In this workshop, we will look at the foundations of peacemaking and its role in shaping school culture. We will also discuss practical ways to establish and maintain a peacemaking culture.

Russ Kapusinski

Russ serves as the Assistant Head of School at The Cambridge School in San Diego, where his contributions include managing discipline cases, conflict resolution, enculturating new and existing families, developing leaders, providing leadership for the spiritual formation of the student body, giving oversight to co-curricular programs and assisting in the strategic implantation of the school’s mission. Over the last 30 years, Russ' visionary, pastoral, collaborative leadership style has enabled him to successfully serve as a catalyst and launch new initiatives for several organizations and ministries. Russ and his wife, Diane, have three children, Joshua, 18, Caleb, 17, and Kate, 10.

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.

What Does the Kingdom of God Look Like? An Apology of Diversity in Classical Christian Schools.

We all have “blindspots” in our lives, or things that we just can’t see. This isn’t because those things aren’t right in front of us, but because we don’t have eyes to see them. Having students from diverse backgrounds — racially, ethnically and socio-economically — helps us to eliminate the blindspots from our lives. Having a diverse school helps to prepare our students for life in the world in ways that a monolithic, monochromatic student body cannot. Students who have experience in a diverse student body are able to navigate cultural nuances, preferences and differences more ably than students who don’t have that kind of experience. Diversity in a student body better reflects the kingdom of God, encourages empathy, helps students see difficult issues from more than one perspective and allows students to experience life in a more abundant way. Achieving diversity is much easier to talk about than it is to do, but this seminar will look at some of the challenges of diversification and how to overcome them.

Peter Vande Brake

Peter Vande Brake grew up in the southern states of Georgia and Tennessee, but attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was a four-time, All- American decathlete. He went to seminary at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and then did his doctoral work at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, obtaining a doctorate in systematic theology in 2000. He was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA in 2001. Peter completed the Van Lunen Fellows Program for Executive Leadership in July of 2009. He taught, coached and administrated at North Hills Classical Academy from 1996 to 2010, and served as the Headmaster there beginning in 1998. He is a leadership consultant for the CiRCE Institute and works at The Potter’s House, an urban, Christ-centered school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is married and has two daughters.

Time to Mind: A Story of “Much, Not Many” and Logic School Flourishing

Because learning is “slow, effortful, and uncertain,”
the classical principle of “much, not many” shapes a program at all levels — classroom culture, pedagogical structure, curriculum and scheduling — to provide time for students to know and love.

Brent Tohlen

Brett Tohlen is the Logic School Director for The Covenant School of Dallas. Before assuming that role four years ago, he taught Upper School literature and Bible for several years. Brett has a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Dallas.

Fostering Cultural Harmony Among the Student Body

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus told his disciples, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43). In many schools, seniors and upperclassmen follow the world’s pattern of looking down upon and lording over their younger peers. Such pride establishes barriers between older and younger students, harms relationships and falls short of Christ’s good command. In this session, tangible examples will be shared to help your students live out Biblical greatness and allow the group to brainstorm, share and consider what cultural structures have/can be put in place to empower your students to do the same.

Brandon Shuman

Brandon Shuman serves as the Dean of Arts and Humanities at Midland Classical Academy deep in the heart of West Texas. Over the course of his ministry at MCA, he has Socratically taught over 26 different junior high, high school and parent courses from a wide range of academic disciplines, including Great Books, Greek, apologetics, history and movie production. Brandon writes education articles for Midland’s local newspaper and co-hosts The Good Knight Dad podcast which encourages and empowers parents to better leverage their student’s experience at MCA. Brandon enjoys coffee, fly fishing, playing baseball in the backyard with his two sons and date nights with his beautiful wife, Laura.

Healthy Student Culture: It Starts with the Faculty

Perhaps the best way to have students who love to learn, love each other and love God is to do those things ourselves. A faculty committed to the historic disciplines of the Christian faith may be the best way to cultivate these types of students.

Jonathan Horner

Jonathan Horner has been at Trinity Academy for 10 years. His time there has included teaching in the High School Humanities and Religious Studies Departments. Asked to lead the Student Culture, he founded the House System, and co-leads the Honor Council.