Our Mission & Distinctives
To be a Christ-centered school means that we see that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7), that Jesus Christ holds all things together (Col. 1:17), and we must observe all that Jesus has commanded (Mt. 28:19). Whatever we are doing, whoever we are with, wherever we are at, we must do it before the face of God and for the glory of God, because there is no secular-sacred divide. A student’s Bible reading and prayer do not occur in a sealed and separate compartment from their work in the science lab or in reading the Great Books. Instead, they read the Great Books in light of the Greatest Book, the Bible. We agree with Charles Spurgeon who said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”
Whether a student is practicing free throws or Latin declensions, our aim is that students do their best and do it for the glory of God. Our name, Coram Deo, means in the presence of God and it is the core idea of the Christian faith. The phrase coram Deo comes from 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” On this side of eternity, our knowledge is bound by space and time, but the Christian scholar knows that the best is yet to come. One day, we’ll peek behind the curtain and see God face to face.
“To live all of life _coram Deo_ is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness
that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God.” -RC Sproul
To have Christ at the center of our curriculum and culture is not ornamental like fake flowers in the center of a table. We do not sprinkle Bible and Chapel on to an otherwise secular curriculum. Instead, being Christ-centered is functional in the way that your heart is in the beating center of your body. If Christ were to be removed from our curriculum and culture, we would begin to wither as an Academy. We believe that mathematics is rooted in the Triune nature of God, that science only makes sense with a God of beautiful order, and that literature is best understood when we see that we are part of God’s bigger story. In art, created creatures create, and in music they participate in the harmony of all God’s creation. To see students create lives of significance, they need to know that the Author of Life has put His signature on each of them and His handiwork is evident in all of His creation.
“If Christ is Lord at all, He must be Lord of all.” -Douglas Wilson
Big takes care of Little
Paul wrote to Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). We summarize this teaching with the phrase ‘big takes care of little.’ All CDA students know that they have a responsibility before God to pass on the truths of the Gospel to the younger students coming behind them. It is normal to see older students opening containers at lunch for the younger students, older students reading to younger students, and the older students holding the door for the younger students. All students are sorted into one of seven age integrated houses where they learn how to serve Christ and one another in a community of Christian faith and classical learning. These houses provide a means where the students can live out the 59 one-anothers of the New Testament (e.g. Jn 13:34). In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has documented the tremendous benefits of age-integration in the phenomenon known as the Rosetto Effect.
“Friendship halves our sorrows and doubles our joys.” -J.C. Ryle
Christian discipleship involves so much more than Bible class and Chapel. Every minute of the school day matters for Christian formation. Children spend 16,000 hours at school, and we want the aroma of Christ wafting through each hallway and class for those 13 years. CS Lewis wrote, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” The aim of education is the formation of people who love what Christ loves and hate what he hates. We place a love of learning over a love of earning (grades, GPA, trophies) and prioritize virtue over vocation. The irony is that the more our students love what God loves, the better they’ll do in GPA, college entrance, and athletic performance. Going through school before the face of God rather than the face of man has much better outcomes for students.
“Education is a one time event with eternal consequences.” -Matt Whitling
Plato wrote, “The aim of education is to learn to love what is worth loving.” We want our students to learn to love the things that last, which include God’s Word, God himself, and the souls of men. Everything we can do can have a lasting purpose if we live with a God-consciousness. If they love these as the highest things, then playing tennis, participating in a Shakespeare play, and doing recitations at Speech Meet take on a whole new significance. Our students see the interconnectedness of all knowledge by studying theology, literature, and history in the same series of Upper School courses. Our students excel in math and science and have well-developed quantitative reasoning and also go through informal and formal logic during the middle grades. Our students ‘catch’ over time that God is a God of order and beauty and joy.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” CS Lewis
“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” -Charles Spurgeon