An Open Letter
to Coram Deo Faculty & Staff
Amy Poer is wife to Patrick, mother of four Coram Deo students (Lilliah, Aliyah, Jono, and Selah) and a long time observer of Classical Christian education. She is also an avid runner and helps coach the Cross Country team.
Greetings, teachers, staff, friends!
Before our family became a part of the Coram Deo Academy community, our understanding of classical training and education was quite limited. We knew, however, that we would like to steer away from public school education and that our daughter, Selah, would thrive in a smaller classroom setting. Having had a family member attend this school as an upper school student when Selah was entering Kindergarten also gave us excitement and comfort about jumping on board.
Although the classical model of educating was not solely the driving force in choosing Coram Deo Academy, we continually appreciate this uncommon yet rich style of learning. My purpose in sharing this letter, therefore, is two-fold: I would like to express a few of the many reasons we appreciate Coram Deo Academy, as well as some reasons we have continued to admire classical education.
Our daughter, Liliah, is our fourth child to enter Kindergarten at Coram Deo. Three have gone before her. In 6+ years of attending this school, it is a rare occasion that a child has complained about not wanting to go to school. This includes the child who likes to sleep late, the child who would prefer to stay at home to explore and create, and the child who does not enjoy sitting still, especially to perform a task.
I attribute this greatly to the joy of learning fostered and facilitated by the teachers here at Coram Deo. While the classical curriculum aids such joyful learning, it has become a byproduct of daily living, exploring, and conversing. Learning steps off the pages of a book to become real-life — from launching rockets while studying space or exploring animal life by watching live chicks hatch in the classroom, to becoming models in a “wax museum” and using math to measure ingredients and prepare a historical feast.
Many times, we have witnessed a teacher going above and beyond to ensure our students have learned that which was intended. For example, when Selah was in first grade, the students jumped a math level mid-year. This left a gap for many students between the knowledge they had and the knowledge required to progress in this upper level. Our first-grade teacher chose to take time outside of school to ensure those students filled that gap.
There have been times, during transitions and changes at Coram Deo, where my tendency to complain has crept in. When we took away parts of the playground to make space for modular classrooms, I found it challenging. After all, we live in a culture where bigger is better, newer is cooler, and more is expected. However, we have noticed that although lacking all the ‘bells and whistles,’ our school fosters abundant creativity.
Some transitions, such as repetitive turnover of leaders, the exodus of several families, or the lack of orderliness, have posed far greater challenges. Even so, we appreciate the improvements our leaders, teachers, and families consistently provide. Coram Deo’s setup provides structure and stability. As this structure grows, so too does the room for us to build community.
Community among faculty and staff, teachers and parents, teachers and students, and families has flourished. I think of Donuts with Mr. Seibel as an example. How beautiful it is that our students can see the Head of School as someone to enjoy seeing because interaction occurs in positive circumstances, not just because discipline or consequences are in order. I think of families providing food or sending little notes during Teacher Appreciation week. I think of Elizabeth Zeaton, who hosted a few families at their home to provide space for the Harvey family to interact with current families before the first day of school. I believe that the more people experience community with each other, the more engaged and committed they become to the school.
“In Classical Christian education, the Bible envelops the curriculum and is expressed and discussed in any setting, not just within a Bible class.”
As I mentioned earlier, our appreciation for Classical Christian education did not drive us to begin our journey at Coram Deo Academy, but it has become an important piece of our education puzzle. We appreciate that in Classical Christian education, the Bible envelops the curriculum and is expressed and discussed in any setting, not just within a Bible class. As a result, children have a richer understanding of God’s words and its connections in various settings.
How brilliant that history in classical Christian education is expressed through literature, not simply facts on a page of a history book. As my husband mentioned in a recent discussion, history expressed through the Classical Christian model tells a grand story the Lord has laid out since before time began. We appreciate the literature our children experience, as it fosters an excitement for reading and the natural use of beautiful words. If I’ve conversed with you, you probably recognize that I do not have an expanded use of vocabulary. This may be the reason I rejoice when I hear someone like Selah speak with eloquence on a regular basis.
“In a world where logic seems lost, our students stand firm in their ability to think critically.”
The Classical model of education recognizes the capabilities of our children. Today, we have lowered standards, often not believing that young people can reach anything higher. Yet the ability we have seen for students to memorize lengthy poems or entire books of the Bible, or to present speeches before their classmates, or to perform by singing, reciting, or dancing, shows that children are capable of great things. While chatting with a friend the other day, I learned that her daughter, also in a Classical Christian school, had practiced using logic to debate creation. In a world where logic seems lost, our students stand firm in their ability to think critically and use logic to defend absolute truth.
Patrick and I continually experience constant, positive, and exciting changes within Coram Deo Academy. Classical Christian education produces a love of learning, the motivation to rise to higher standards, and builds a solid foundation for objective thinking through a Biblical worldview. We’re thankful to be a part of this adventure.