Because life is a series of edits

Posts Tagged ‘veritas classical academy’

Good News on the Oklahoma Admissions Front

In Colleges & Universities, Educators on April 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

Oklahoman

Back on Good Friday, The Oklahoman published this article on the University of Oklahoma's desire to revamp their admissions process and make it more holistic in its consideration of potential OU students.

This public announcement lines up with what OU Admissions Director Mark McMasters alluded to me (Craig) privately last fall – namely that OU was working on admission changes from which non-accredited schools like Veritas would benefit. Mark told me that OU measures success in terms of admitted students actually graduating, and colleges and universities can't deny the positive numbers when it comes to homeschool students who successfully start and finish their collegiate studies.

Seeing an opportunity to affirm what Mark and OU's Board of Regents are doing, I wrote a letter to The Oklahoman affirming OU's decision and urging the Oklahoma State Board of Regents to follow their lead. To my surprise, the paper published my Letter to the Editor in full earlier this week.

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.

On Accreditation and Statism in Education

In Books on January 21, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I (Craig) have been revisiting a few previously-read books on classical Christian education to apply their counsel to current situations. The process has been helpful for the sake of thinking through some of these aforementioned "opportunities".

For instance, I recently received the following email from one of our Veritas parents:

"My daughter has just finished another semester at Veritas. We know she is getting a very good education, and we are pleased with her performance. She is learning how to study and prepare, to be a success when she attends college. It is never too early to create good study skills and habits.

However, I am curious about the state accreditation status of Veritas Classical. I am sure the process is a long, drawn-out procedure, but to be honest, I am a little nervous. Am I correct in saying, if a student does not attend a state accredited high school, the only way for them to be accepted to a state college or university, is based solely on their ACT scores?

I am also interested in the accreditation status because there is a grant program available for schools. Perhaps you have heard of the Box Tops program. This program has probably existed for 20 years. Many of the foods we use come with Box Tops, and once collected, the boxtops are sent in, and the school receives money. I would be happy to assist with this program, but the school MUST be state accredited to receive the funds. I have saved these coupons for three years and hopefully, one day Veritas, will be able to benefit from them.

I have not heard of any specific details indicating that VCA is indeed making a consorted effort to continue their pursuit of accreditation. Would you please be specific and give me some concrete details about this matter?"

Rather than email back, I thought a conversation might be more helpful, so I picked up the phone and called. We had a pleasant discussion about her concerns and our philosophy concerning accreditation. Indeed, I said, there are no specific details because there are no specific plans to pursue state authorization or endorsement. Curricularly speaking, we actually exceed the state's academic requirements; financially speaking, we don't want money with strings attached.

Simply put, with regard to accreditation, we don't need or want it.

Douglas Wilson, in his books, Repairing the Ruins and The Case for Classical Christian Education, elaborates on what I mean:

"We have been told, both directly and subliminally, that state accreditation is to education what the FDA stamp of approval is to food quality, i.e. the guarantee of rigorous scrutiny by knowledgeable experts. But the reason we are having all this debate over education in the first place is that the whole country pretty much agrees that our state-certified and accredited schools are usually pretty poor.

Nevertheless, parents still have a deep faith that accreditation means something because it ought to mean something. And so they come to inquire about possible enrollment at a private school, and one of their first questions concerns whether or not the school is accredited – even though the reason they have come to apply is that they are thoroughly unhappy with the school they are leaving, which has been accredited for a hundred years."

In revisiting some of Wilson's thoughts, I noticed another of his answers that fleshed out more of my perspective on the question of school choice – a hot topic here in Oklahoma, and the subject of the "Restoring American Exceptionalism" (terrible title) Town Hall I'm attending on Tuesday. After tweeting yesterday that "Restoring American Exceptionalism is not my goal, but I'm for school choice and will be attending Tuesday,' I realized I should probably have clarified what I meant when I used the phrase "school choice".

For me, "school choice" has little to do with charter schools and vouchers, but simply local (read: parental) control and no government (city, state, or federal) involved. Again, Wilson writes in The Case for Classical Christian Education:

"At the root, the problem with charter schools and vouchers is not difficult to understand. I've written elsewhere that the theological case against such programs should actually be grounded in the prohibition against stealing. When the government taxes us in order to perform the duties assigned to the civil government by God, Christians clearly can have no consistent ethical objection (Romans 13:1-7). But if the government adopts responsibilities that God never assigned and begins massive redistribution of wealth accordingly, this creates an ethical problem…

…Parents who want charter schools and vouchers are asking, in effect, for others to pay higher taxes to fund their children's education – and the whole thing becomes simply 'food stamps for the brain.' A citizenry may be taxed in order to fund those activities that God requires of the civil magistrate, but secularist education is not one of these activities…If conservative Christian parents join this parade by seeking a piece of the action, we are demonstrating that we do not understand how our nation has drifted into its current idolatrous statism. As I put it elsewhere, 'until we learn to fight statism by refusing to accept benefits, our hypocrisy will be evident.'"

While I don't agree with everything Wilson says or writes, it's been helpful revisiting his (and others') books that address these ideas in a way that goes beyond (for now) my instincts and common sense. Much to ponder and process as we continue to shape the future of education.

The Best Teachers are the Best Learners

In Educators on December 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

These are just some of the people I get to work with each day at Veritas. So blessed.

Greek Festival, Second Grade Style

In Thought on October 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

The second grade had their annual Greek Festival this past Tuesday. One of the beautiful things about being the "new" family is that so far I (Megan) haven't been tasked with many school responsibilities. Granted, when nobody else was available to be the 3rd grade homeroom parent, I volunteered, but so far it's been an easy gig.

I found out on Tuesday just how much work the Greek Festival actually was and all I did was stop by Sam's on my way for some kind of Greekish dessert and and show up willing to man the archery station during the "Olympic" games. Easy peasey. For me. It didn't take much time at all for me to figure out that many man-hours (or should I say mom-hours) went in to making the festival what it was and I was grateful for every single one of them. I was more grateful that they weren't my mom-hours. My time will come, I'm just glad it hasn't come yet.

The kids started off by giving a presentation in the chapel with all the Greek songs and chants they've learned so far this year:

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The togas were super easy to do. We just had to get a large white t-shirt, pop their names on in Greek letters (some used fabric markers, some iron-on transfer paper), and cut the sleeves off. A bit of twine took care of the rest – instant toga!

After the presentation we walked across to the gym area for the feast and Olympic games. The first unplanned game was actually, "Who can walk across the wind tunnel and not lose your wreath?"

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And the feast. The moms did a great job pulling this off. My contribution? You see those grapes in the front? Yep, that was me. And that store-bought plate of something I don't know the name of in the back that looks like it has jam inside? I bought those at Sam's too.

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And the drinks:

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Of course I took more pictures of my own child than the others. It's in my job description.

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Here are the kids on their way to the Olympic games:

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I brought M12 with me to help with the games. She was tasked with leading the hurdles.

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I also brought C11 with me. She's hard at work at the archery station.

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We actually did work hard most of the time, but there were a few pockets in which we didn't have any kids at our station. You are seeing one of those times.

Here's one of the chariot races:

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And the awards ceremony:

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Super fun event, super fun time. I'm totally digging the blended model school system. I love, love, love having my kids home part of the time and having them at school part of the time. The Greek Festival is just one of the perks of this system.

Thanks Veritas Moms and Teachers! You all rock!