My participation here at TCI has been a bit slow for the past two months. Our other contributors have done a fine job at keeping new material coming, but I have only been able to write brief notes here and there. One of the more exciting projects that has been eating up my time is a new school that I have been privileged to work on creating. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I’d like to give some initial press to St. Augustine School in Jackson, MS.
One of our board members created the website, which looks great, and several other board members and founding families helped with the copy. You can see the basic information on the site, but I’ll give a few more words of explanation.
The “classical” adjective refers to the school’s philosophy of education and curriculum. Most of you are probably familiar with this, but I can add that we do not simply mean the so-called “Sayers Model,” but rather the larger project of Christian Humanism. We want to teach our children to see the unity of all knowledge as it is summed up in eternal wisdom, and we want them to be competent and confident with the primary sources.
The “Christian” adjective can be even trickier to define. Mississippi is full of “Christian” schools. Hopefully ours will be significant in that it is neither a commune nor a think tank, but rather a learning environment that is pious, humble, and God-honoring. All things consist in Jesus Christ, and all knowledge finds its highest fulfillment in Him. We will also be careful to preserve the integrity of each discipline, as special revelation always presupposes natural revelation.
Perhaps the least familiar of these descriptions is the “University Model.” We will be the first University Model school in the state of Mississippi, and the total number of University Model Schools is still small. The name reflects the concept that the class schedule resembles that of the university. Students are required to be “in class” 2-3 days a week, and they complete the rest of the work at home. Essentially this creates a hybrid of homeschooling and traditional Christian schooling. The school board is still the governing body over all, the administration will still serve as an executive, and the teachers will set the curriculum and grading for their classes. But the students will also be at home for up to 65% of the time, giving parents the opportunity to be immediately involved in their child’s education and nurture. The parents will operate as co-teachers for the early years and will gradually transition to advisers, allowing the students to manage their own time and study. The goal of the University Model School is to combine the strengths of homeschooling with those of institutional schooling, bolstering both the family and the Christian community at large.
St. Augustine School is a sort of ministry to our local community. We founded it with our particular families in mind. But it also has the potential to be more than “our school.” It embodies many of the core tenets of TCI’s vision of the Christian commons. The educational philosophy is traditional but broadly Protestant, following the best of the Christian humanists. The structure is intentionally supportive of a strong family and household center, allowing appropriate freedoms while also guiding them with an institutional structure. There’s really not much like this anywhere in the world, and if we can have even modest success, it will be a great boon for any project interested in Christian society.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do with St. Augustine School. We will need to hire administrators and faculty. We will still have to figure out many of the logistics. But we’ve got the core, and we’ve got a committed group of families. I will keep you updated as we get closer to launching. If you have any questions or an interest in a school like this, please feel free to email me. And, of course, if you would like to help support this project, you can contact me for more details. We would be most grateful.
Steven Wedgeworth is the pastor of Christ Church in Lakeland, Florida. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Trust. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), Steven lives in Lakeland, FL with his wife, son, daughter, and two terriers.
The Calvinist International is a forum for research, resourcement, and renewal of Christian wisdom.