The Habersham School is a PK3 – 12 private school in Savannah, GA.
The following was prepared by Jacquie Miller, Dean of Faculty and Academics, for our annual Upper School Academic Night where parents are given the opportunity to get a refresher about the philosophy upon which our academics, arts, and athletics are built in addition to college preparation and the admissions process. Parents also were given the chance to meet the dedicated faculty who teach their kids and experience a taste of a day in the life of a Habersham student.
Our academic program has several facets that shape it. Yes, we prepare for college. Strong preparation for college is one indicator of a successful academic program, but it is not in itself our primary aim. Our true aim, and our true measure of success, is training students to aim well and to design a life around those aims. We are successful when students choose, in a world that offers them many choices, to pursue moral and academic virtue.
Virtue means doing the right thing, in relation to the right person, at the right time, to the right extent, in the right manner, and for the right purpose. (Aristotle)
When we use the word virtue in our society, we likely refer to moral virtue. Aristotle used this term in a broader sense to mean “the excellence of” something. One might say, for example, that the virtue of a chair is the degree to which it supports the human body. Or one might say the virtue of a chair lies in how beautiful it looks in a room. How we define virtue, what we aim for, depends on what we value. One of the facets of a Habersham education is to teach a student to aim for things that truly matter and to seek to achieve excellence in our aims.
Another facet of our approach focuses on establishing excellence through habit formation, with teacher as model and coach. Aristotle, again: Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. Training students to see intentional habit formation as formation of character and, ultimately, destiny, puts the agency and motivation in the hands of the student himself to make wise choices on a daily basis.
Classical, Christian education pursues academic and moral virtue in the context of certain things that we take to be true, things that our postmodern world questions and often denies.
One of the things we take to be true is that there is truth. There is a way things are, a way things work, an objective reality. There is a way the physical universe works, even when it appears mysterious. There is a way the human body, mind, and spirit work, even when we seem baffling to each other and even to ourselves. There is a way God works, a nature of His being that He reveals to us when we sincerely seek Him. The pursuit of knowledge was classically, and remains for us, a journey to discover and understand these truths.
Another thing we take to be true is that it is good to understand the wisdom of those who have come before us, those voices which have been so penetrating, so insightful, that their words ring true after thousands of years. This is not to say that the speakers of such words were perfect people, or even necessarily good people, but rather that their writings express an idea that is true, universal, and as illuminating to our path today as it was when written.
Or we read them because they expressed an idea the writer believed to be true, something that was accepted and lived out fully, that shaped history and bore fruit which, when examined, revealed the idea to be deceptive. In this case, the words are an admonition against accepting this idea as true, or more broadly to examine ideas before we accept them, a warning of how far we can go astray when we accept false ideas as true, how ferociously we can cling to bad ideas even as the collateral damage stacks up. In both cases, wisdom comes from listening, from reflecting, and ultimately from arming ourselves with the hard-won lessons that others have left us.
Another thing we take as true, which shapes our program, is that there is such a thing as beauty, and that it is a comfort and a joy and a balm, often because it whispers of things eternal that our souls turn toward and understand, even when we have no way to articulate how it is that we recognize them as such.
Ultimately, we build our program on the idea that our world, our universe, our bodies, our minds and spirits — all that is — is designed intentionally by God, that we are thus born of love, and we, in turn, find our purpose and meaning in love. The Habersham School educates in community with strong role models and accountability, intentional discipling, and many opportunities to serve each other selflessly.
Aristotle (one more time) said that educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. We steep education in the context of Christ, and we educate with the aim of Christ. We deeply appreciate your trust and partnership as we educate your children on these foundations.