Because life is a series of edits

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Please Stop Believing

In Thought on February 27, 2012 at 11:43 am

If we were still in St. Louis, today would have been the official start of "pre-season" for our high school boys baseball teams at my former school, Westminster Christian Academy. While I feel a twinge of baseball longing at the idea (here's why), the video below provides a salve for the pain. For all you Cub fans out there, this one's for you:

Parents as Teachers

In Parents on February 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

3rd Grade
I (Megan) dipped my toes into the waters of substitute teaching on Tuesday this week, but then got pushed in full on Thursday. You know what? The water isn't nearly as scary as I was thinking it would be. In fact, I wouldn't mind going swimming again.

At Veritas, we have the unique privilege of partnering with professional teachers in the eduction of our children. Of course, I'm already teaching our own kids at home two days a week, but occasionally agreeing to partner in the education of other kids in our community can be very affirming, for you AND  the school.

Now then, group teaching isn't for everyone; there are plenty of reasons some people are called to be teachers and some are not. But I think, particularly in a blended model of education, there are more of us capable of subbing than we might think. This post is for those people.

Here are six reasons I think parents should consider being on the substitute list:

1) It's a great way to get to know other kids in our VCA community. Believe it or not, even as the wife of the Head of School, sometimes I feel a little on the fringe of what we're doing. Craig takes the girls to school in the morning and he brings them home in the afternoon on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I'm really not on campus very much.

Substituting this week gave me a small sense of connectedness to the school as a whole. I chatted with more teachers than I ever have before (not a ton, but even three is more than none), and I got to know eleven new kids and, by extention, a little bit about our different families through them. I loved it.

2) We have great kids in our VCA community. Most of us think our OWN kids are pretty great (most of the time), but some might be surprised to learn we have a ton of great kids within our VCA community. They are funny; they are smart; they are respectful; they are lively; they are witty; they are awesome. I really enjoyed getting to know a new set of kids and I was encouraged in our decision to be part of this community. These are kids I want my kids hanging around!

3) It's not as scary as it sounds. Really. It isn't. I was nervous all the way to school on Tuesday, but once I got there and saw the schedule and the plans, I relaxed a lot. I could do this. Y'all, I've BEEN doing this at home all-year long! Sure, it's different doing it with a classroom of kids all the same age, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I loved getting up close and into what the kids are really doing on their school days.

4) You don't have to teach SWR (Spell to Write and Read) to the class. There is help for the hopeless (me). Really, if you know this program well and are comfortable doing it, you can, but if you need help, help is there to be found. Whew!

5) You can earn a little spending money. No, it's not a lot, but it's not nothing, either! And you don't have to do it one day just because your name is on the list.

6) We have great teachers in our VCA community. I mentioned our GREAT kids and it's true! But we have GREAT teachers, too. Unfortunately, sometimes our great teachers get sick, or (because many of them are parents of Veritas students themselves), sometimes their own kids get sick. Honestly, sometimes they need a break, and sometimes they need us to help them.

Our substitute list for all campuses is short, and we really need parents on it. If you're part of our commuity (or if you're at a different but similar kind of school somewhere else), please consider this a plea to sign up to substitute teach.

Really. You can do this.

Best Angry Email Ever

In Education, Veritas on February 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Just to give you an idea of some of the characters within our Veritas Classical Academy community, I have to share this email that one of our Veritas moms sent me as a joke on the front end of her actual email, which was a very nice thank you note.

Mr. Dunham,

I would like to meet with you discussing restructuring the curriculum at Veritas. In my vast motherhood experience I feel I know much more what is best from an academic standpoint. I would like you to cancel all your meetings tomorrow as I have a 78-page Power Point presentation to present to you, along with visual aids and child participation for examples.

I also contacted a food distributor as I have decided to campaign for fried school lunches as part of the North campus. In addition, I plan to bring in many professors of different religions to help shape worldview. After that, I plan to let public high schoolers come in and teach electives, as, after all, they know more about our culture then we do.

And lastly, I have rounded up a posse of very angry mothers who would also like some face time.

Get back to me yesterday,

A Veritas Mom

When a parent feels comfortable enough to joke around like this, that's a really healthy thing in my book.

Fun people, our parents. Fun people.

(Note: Identity has been kept anonymous to protect the guilty.)

A Brief Behind-the-Scenes History of Veritas

In Thought on February 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

Ever wondered what goes into starting a classical Christian school? I (Craig) asked one of our Veritas Classical Academy founding board members, Julie Serven, to reflect over the past seven years and share from her experience. She writes:

Julie (low res)"The very short version is that in 2002, a few families at our church in Norman, just south of Oklahoma City, started wondering whether it might be possible to have a classical Christian school in Norman. Someone read through the Association of Classical Christian Schools website, in particular the link, Start a School. Twelve or so of us met monthly starting fall of 2002 to discuss some of the books on the ACCS suggested book list. This helped us to get on the same page.

In February 2003, four board members were selected (or at least willing!) to make some more particular decisions to try to move forward as the Lord led. I and some other board members made trips to 4 or 5 schools to see how they implemented classical Christian education. One school I visited was Coram Deo Academy in Dallas, as someone I knew was teaching there. Coram Deo followed a blended/university/part-time model, which is something that had appealed to me about a school in St. Louis where we lived for seminary (even though our kids were too young to go there then).

The board decided to pursue opening a blended model classical Christian school – partially so parental involvement would be written into the fabric of the school, and partially so the costs could be kept down to make it more financially accessible. We gathered together materials, raised a bit of money, and scheduled some information sessions to see whether there were interested teachers and parents of students. We put together bylaws, incorporated with the state, prayed a lot, and just tried to figure out what the next step might be each step of the way.

We were advised to raise $100,000 before starting. We were able to raise $10,000 before starting fall 2004, when we started meeting in a Baptist church in Norman. We had 34 students in grades K through 5/6. Another board member was the first part-time principal/administrator. We had six teachers and one administrative assistant. We met Tuesday and Thursday from 8:15am to 3:15pm.

Many of the years since then, the board members have just been trying to figure it out and trust God along the way. He has been very faithful. We have made plenty of mistakes, but God must be pleased to have Veritas exist because He keeps making it a place where His work in kids and family and staff keeps happening.

For those interested in starting a school, I would suggest reading all the ACCS information available. Meet monthly with interested others to see whether there is a group with a common vision to move forward. Visit some other schools to determine more what "flavor" your school will have. Whether 5-day or blended model, assess likelihood of raising money (I would say at least $100K; we are still trying to erase initial start-up deficit). And of course, pray a whole lot. ACCS also has an annual summer conference that would be helpful for networking and figuring out what direction you would want your school to take in the particulars.

The process of starting a school has been much harder than I ever would have guessed. It is definitely not for the faint of heart and only for those who clearly feel that God is in it as they take steps forward. But seeing what God has done (and having a front-row seat on the process) is glorious as well."

Julie Serven is a mother of four (all at Veritas) who is currently helping her husband, Doug, plant City Presbyterian Church in downtown Oklahoma City.

The Centerpiece of Constructing the Vision

In Thought on February 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

VCA Constructing (low res big)Many of you know we're part of a very unique educational experience here in Oklahoma City – Veritas Classical Academy – which, as I (Megan) like to think of it, combines the best of both worlds in the realm of education. I've always had the heart of a homeschooler, but recognized two years ago I didn't exactly have the drive of one.

What I mean by that is that while I loved homeschooling my kids, I wasn't doing that great of a job of it with all four of my kids at the same time. With Veritas, I have the assurance and accountability that none of my kids are getting dropped in any area, while at the same time, I get to teach them at home half the time as well. It's been working really well for us this year.

VCA Invite (low res)Next month we're hosting our first annual fundraising banquet and the theme of the banquet is Constructing the Vision: Education Redefined. I'm excited that Susan Wise Bauer is headlining our event as the main speaker and Michael Card will be performing that evening as well. All of our girls already know Mike, so they are looking forward to seeing him again. All of our girls have also gone through a variety of Susan's educational resources, so when I mentioned she was coming, K10 asked if she could bring last year's Writing with Ease book and have her sign it, which I think is both sweet and hysterical. And…if I can find last year's Writing with Ease book, I'll definitely let her bring it that night! There are no guarantees I will be able to find it…*cough*

Anyway, I'm on the banquet planning team and my main job is to make sure we have table decor. After initially flipping out because I don't really see table decor as one of my spiritual gifts, I remembered that it is one of the spiritual gifts of my friend, Kirsten Spears. I told her the theme of the banquet and begged her to come up with a centerpiece idea. In keeping with the "constructing the vision" theme, she came up with the vase below with nails glued all around. I added the blue ribbon and think they are perfect.

Picture 20
We're getting together this weekend to make 55 of these babies. So much fun, right? Pray I don't burn my thumbs off on Saturday.

Also, I remembered the Michael Miller Whimsy line in royal blue and yellow and spent a lot of time hunting down various pieces from that collection with which to make table toppers. I've been a cutting and sewing fool for the past week. I think they look pretty snazzy and am excited to see them all on the tables at the banquet.

I'm looking forward to the evening. If you are in the area on Thursday, March 8, I'd love to encourage you to snag some tickets and come. Not only will you be supporting a worthy cause (our awesome school), but you will be both inspired and encouraged by two dynamic people as well.

I'm just going to come out and say it: this is totally worth your time and your money.

See you there!