by Dr. Tonya Christal, Geneva School of Boerne Board of Trustees Member
In the Grammar School classrooms as each school year winds down, the children’s eyes sparkle as they draw close to their teachers, each leaning in with anticipation to receive their Character Trait Award. Parents and grandparents pack the perimeters of the room to partake in the immeasurable joy of seeing their child recognized and celebrated as a uniquely and wonderfully-made creation of God. These words fill the room: diligence, kindness, faithfulness, patience, joy, perseverance. After a year of being stretched and measured in the necessary but worldly standards of academic achievement, the children get to breathe in deep and exhale as they are reminded of their eternal value in God’s eyes.
Throughout the year, these same children may receive a Coram Deo Award, a spontaneous and treasured recognition when they are seen exhibiting those qualities that glorify God. As I cleaned out the frightening depths of my fifth grader’s backpack after a long year, I pulled out accordion-crumpled graded papers and a few little wrinkled Coram Deo papers. They recognized his help cleaning the table after lunch and reaching out to a friend on the playground who was sad and lonely. They spoke to him of the value of what you do when you don’t need to and how you behave when no one is watching. He never even traded them in for the coveted free ice cream on Friday. I think in his heart the Coram Deo was sweeter.
This same child will journey through Logic School and then on to Rhetoric to join his older brother. These coming years will test and refine that character. As the curriculum shifts, the building blocks start to stack into some recognizable structure. What will hold him together, if not his character?
The high school years begin to stir other conversations. No sooner does it begin that we are already preparing for the end. What happens after graduation? Will my child attend their college of choice? Will my child be successful? What do we need to do right now to ensure a path to success? At some point the conversation may even turn to the question, “Is Geneva the right school to equip my child?” There have been remarkable changes in the academic offerings available to this generation. Magnet schools, charter schools and competitive AP curriculum have created an environment where parents are left wondering: “Is my child getting access to the forward-thinking curriculum that drives today’s marketplace?”
My husband and I come from a strong science background and now practice within the healthcare industry. I’ve been asked if I think our kids have enough varied science exposure to prepare them for the future. How does Geneva, a classical and Christian School, prepare our kids for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers? First and foremost, GSB prepares them to do hard things well. Through small class sizes and hands-on exposure, they recognize that questions can be as important as answers. The faculty treat our children from the earliest ages like future influencers and expect them to appreciate the weight of their words and actions in a world that thirsts for truth. As Albert Einstein said, “I believe in God – who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of the universe.”
The Geneva School of Boerne faculty are deeply committed to supporting the revelation of God’s orderly harmony through the study of science and mathematics. The pace of technological and societal change ensures a lifetime love of learning has never been more critical. I believe that Geneva School of Boerne earnestly aims to graduate a well-rounded servant-scholar-athlete-artist who is equipped for a lifetime of learning. My strongest desire is that my children, regardless of profession, would live a life that honors God. That in whatever vocation he finds himself he would be a light on a hill in a desperately dark world. In that Geneva excels.
So, I’m left with the question: “What matters most?” Perhaps your child knows what they want to do when they “grow up;” mine don’t know the answer to that age-old question yet. Perhaps what they want to do now will only be what they do for a little while.
Again, the pace of technology tells me one thing for certain – I have no clue what my child will be doing for a living. Even within a profession, the landscape of their work will shift like the sands over the decades. This is what we can prepare them for with great certainty – a lifetime of learning. I want them to be prepared with a God-centered heart to see a need in the world and work to fulfill it. To live a life and not just make a living. To pursue passionately that which interests them and know how to approach it with curiosity and tenacity. To respond graciously to a change in job description, because they understand what describes their job does not define them. To be a leader in every realm of their influence because they were created to go and do great things.
Every day we each face the challenge to answer the question “what matters most?” At Geneva School of Boerne, with God’s grace and blessing, our children learn to answer that question with God’s word. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6.