Since my arrival at The Habersham School, I have wrestled with my “elevator speech.” This is a common phrase to describe what to say to someone who asks about where you work while riding an elevator together. You have until the doors open to answer. How, in 30 seconds, do I describe this wonderful school while seeking to differentiate it from others in Savannah? We are distinctively different in a market full of options – public, private, and homeschool, Christian and secular, full-time and hybrid, etc.
All schools have reading, writing, and arithmetic. There are other Christian schools. There are other classical schools. But there is no one exactly like us….wholly committed to delivering a full day of classroom education that is distinctly Christian, Classical, and Covenantal.
The classical aspect of our school does require a few more words to describe how it’s a unique yet proven and time-tested approach. The Covenantal aspect of our school defines that we use a discipleship model of admissions – partnering only with committed Christian families, not the evangelistic model which opens admission to Christian and non-Christian families.
The good news is that I believe I have arrived at what captures The Habersham School’s distinctives in less than 30 seconds:
The Habersham School provides a Christ-centered education, a worldview missing in most schools, using the time-proven classical tradition that teaches grammar, logic and rhetoric – skills and ways of thinking and expressing oneself. We do so by providing our students a transformative and restorative experience, so they are fully aware that they were created in the image of God. And we provide this in a safe and trusted environment.
Yes, we are a school, but we are unlike any other in Savannah.
I have discovered that The Habersham School is unknown by many folks in Savannah. And, we are misunderstood by many more. My goal, my prayer, is that we will be a great option for families who are considering whom to entrust their precious kids. I know that the Lord will lead them to the “right” school for their family. I only want to be sure we’re on the menu.
Eyes on Christ,
Head of School
As promised above, here is a more unpacked version of the elevator speech for those of you who would like to do a deep dive into each of these distinctives.
CLASSICAL • CHRISTIAN • COVENANTAL
- By Classical, we mean two things. 1) Our students are taught using time-tested methodology including the instruction of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, each aligning with a child’s natural development in Lower, Middle, and Upper School. 2) Our approach emphasizes the cultivation of virtue, or simply put, we teach students to care for and value things of real importance, things that have an eternal purpose.
- By Christian, we mean that Christ is at the center of all that we do. More than just having chapel and Bible classes, Habersham recognizes that all truth is God’s truth and that this truth therefore must pervade every single facet of our school.
- By Covenantal, we mean that each family at our school is a Christian family who has made a commitment to the school and to each other to help raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We’re all in this together.
The classical aspect of our school does require a few more words to describe as it is now unique when compared to modern approaches. That said, classical education is not a novel innovation. Classical schools simply adhere to a more time-tested educational philosophy that aims for something far loftier than just a grade on a paper: the cultivation of virtue.
Yes, we aim for academic excellence. Yes, we prepare students for college and careers. Yes, we give grades. But if this is all we are aiming for, then our aims are falling far short of all we are called to and designed to be as image bearers of God.
As C.S. Lewis once said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” An education that fails to cultivate virtue (or fails to aim for heaven) is a failed education.
To that end, classical Christian education is most interested in who your child is called to be and subsequently who he or she is becoming as an image bearer of God. In short, an education focused on virtue understands that we become what we value (or love) and therefore students must understand and know that which is valuable.
How do we accomplish this? Through a methodology incorporating the trivium. The trivium lays the foundation for lifelong learning through the emphasis and the development of three skills: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The emphasis of these skills coincides directly with a child’s natural development in lower, middle, and upper school thereby providing them a foundation upon which to more fully understand the world and the God who created it. You can take an even deeper dive and learn more about the trivium here.
On the surface, the Christian component of what we do is seemingly obvious. We pray, we have chapel, we have Bible classes. But if we were to stop here, this too would be falling far short of all we are called to be. Classical Christian education again aims higher and is wholly shaped by the notion that all truth is God’s truth. That is, education is not somehow detached from the truths of Scripture. There is a unity of truth and an integration of knowledge found in God alone.
So what does this mean? It means that being a Christian school impacts everything that we do. We don’t just put God in a box that we break out for chapel, prayers before lunch, or strictly in Bible class. Christ is at the center of it all. Every class, every subject, every discussion is seen through the prism of Christ.
Newton’s laws of universal gravitation cannot be fully understood or explained without first knowing God, the Creator of the universe. We recognize these laws are indeed true because our God is a God of order who divinely and intelligently designed this created world as such.
More than adding a Bible verse to curriculum, classical Christian education sees history, science, philosophy, math, art, etc. as integrated subjects centered around the truth of God and His created world. Therefore it must naturally follow that all knowledge is directly attributable to Him and that to know God’s creation more fully is to know God more fully.
The covenantal aspect of our school radically shapes our community and defines our admissions model. This is not to disparage open-enrollment Christian schools, but rather to draw a distinction between the two approaches.
We recognize the family as a cherished institution graciously given to us by God, with the divine calling to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We thereby see ourselves as an extension and a partner to that which Christian families are cultivating in their children at home and at church.
Emphasis must be given to the words extension and partner as we see our role not to supplant the role of the family, but to come alongside families to cooperatively and professionally assist them in carrying out their God-given responsibilities.
Simply put, the covenantal model can be most aptly described as a partnership; one that cannot be fully realized without a shared commitment to educational philosophies and goals between the institution and the family. Thus, we partner only with Christian families seeking the same.
In this way, covenantal education entirely transforms the role of faculty, staff, and coaches from mere depositors of knowledge to one of a mentor and disciple in a ministerial capacity more holistically intentioned to serve children as they learn and grow as students and as individuals created in the image of God.
Finally, covenantal education by its very nature establishes a community of like-minded families who inevitably further support each other in raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Knowing the adults whom your children spend the majority of their time with will further instill the values you are instilling in your home and at your church is truly transformational.