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Leadership

Monday, November 2, 2020

Dear JH Classical Academy Parents,
 
We are in a time of stress in our country.  Anger and distrust have lessened dialogue and increased polarization.  Binary thinking has replaced nuanced understanding.  Group-affiliation has replaced truth and ethics.  I have been asking myself: Can the pillars of classical education be a part of the solution to relieving the stress, distrust, and tribalism that are plaguing our country?  Are we teaching students to respect each other, learn from each other, and even trust each other when we have disagreements? 
 
One foundational pillar of a classical Christian education is the belief that every child is a person, created in the image of God and deserving respect.  The Greeks and the Romans tended to give higher value to those that were smart, rich, handsome, or athletic, but the Hebrews gave the same dignity to all persons.  To be human means we are fallible, or as the scriptures teach, we are fallen.  We hunger and thirst for sincerity, honesty, and integrity; we engage in the quest for truth; but we are limited in our ability to know the full Truth.  This profound commitment to the dignity of every student and the search for truth is the base of every discussion we have and every policy we create at our Academy.  We are teaching students to respect each other.
 
The Socratic legacy of Athens is a pillar of methodology at a classical school.  To accomplish the goals of truth seeking, we need humility and a love of truth that is greater than our own opinions.  People with humility know they don’t know everything and are open-minded to listen to others; and with courage they dare to dialogue over disagreements knowing they could learn something new.  We evaluate students on their depth of inquiry and their sense of wonder, encouraging students to constantly ask questions and be content to realize there is a limit to our understanding.  We are teaching students to learn from one another.
 
Character and virtue are pillars of a classical education transmitted by Christian teachers. Character, or integrity, is exhibited when we honestly and accurately match our actions with our words. When we see people that live with integrity, trust begins to build.  You cannot not trust a person of integrity.  You know that a person of integrity is not trying to manipulate you, or take advantage of you, or trick you.  You know that people of integrity care about your well-being as well as their own.  With integrity, we can retain friendship even if we disagree, but it requires a strong interior.  At our Academy, we focus on creating the habits of self-control, responsibility, and thoroughness necessary to live lives of integrity.  We are teaching student to trust each other.
 
Our public square desperately needs respect, love of the truth, and trust. We seek to teach our students to recognize and appreciate these values so that they can not only know them but embody them, just as we strive to embody them ourselves. People teach, preach, and write books about character and virtue, but human beings learn more from the example of others than spoken or written precepts. We can exhort our students to live lives of integrity, but being an example is far more powerful.  Children watch every move we make.  If we teach one way and act another way, students know.  They have a strong sense of justice.  We are fallen and broken; we are cracked vessels.  But in getting up after we fall and healing our brokenness, we show a life of integrity.  This is true, beautiful, and good!
 
Grace and peace,
 
Mrs. Polly J. Friess
Head of School
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Jackson Hole Classical Academy
P.O. Box 7466
Jackson, WY 83002
 
Enrollment Inquiries:
Polly Friess
(307) 690-8396
 
All Other Inquiries:
School Office
(307) 201-5040
 
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