The Veritas Story, Part 2
By Marlin Detweiler
[This will make more sense if you read Part 1 first.]
I headed to Miami—one book lighter for the ride. Of course, the next day the book arrived at our home. Now you may not know this, but my wife is a reader. When we are preparing a catalog for our business, Veritas Press, she reads and reads and reads. It’s not unusual for her to read four to six books … a day. This book was different. She read it, pondered it, and reread it well into the night. And the very next day, as early as she dared—around six o’clock, as I mentioned in Part 1—she called and greeted me with those fateful words, “We need to start a school.”
What’s a husband to do? My characteristic response would be something bordering on sinful—at best. In this instance, by the grace of God, I was a little more kindhearted. It went something like, “Well, let me read the book and then we’ll talk about it.” Read it I did, and wow! I was convinced. We did indeed need to start a school.
Just a few years prior to this we were faced with a terribly important and difficult question: How and where would we educate our children? At the time, we were part of a large church with roughly 1,200 members. The church had a large school. Even though I was an officer in the church, we concluded that the church’s school was not for us. It was not particularly rigorous academically. And we wanted the best for our children.
At that time we believed that education was morally neutral. The modern notion that math, science, let along history, can be taught in a “just the facts” way—in a way that supposedly has no bearing on worldview presuppositions—is terribly mistaken. But we did not know that then. We believed that math, history, literature, etc., are all educational disciplines best done by well-trained educators. More importantly, we believed that their worldview would not impact the teaching, content, or perspective conveyed to the student. We could not have been more mistaken. Of course, we have come to understand things much differently now. We are now well aware of the religious nature of all education. Wilson’s book had a lot to do with a great change in our thinking about education, and it profoundly impacted our priorities.
So, here we were planning to do something we never thought we’d do—start a school. The first thing was to gather like-minded folks. And the first call? You guessed it—R.C. He had gotten us to this point. We thought he could continue to help, and help he did. There were others, too.
On May 26, 1992 R.C. Sproul and his wife, Vesta, Bob and Marjean Ingram, Mike and Barb Malone, and Laurie and I gathered in our family room to discuss this new school idea. We spent maybe the first 10 minutes discussing whether or not to start a school. Done. We then spent the rest of the evening planning it. The eight of us became the original Board of Governors. Laura Grace Alexander joined us shortly thereafter.
No moss grew on us that summer. We recruited students and teachers, and we found and prepared a facility. It was hard work. It was long work. It was good work. Of course, it didn’t hurt having R.C. to be our speaker on open-house nights—aptly named because the facility was not identified for early meetings and not presentable for later ones, so we met in our house. The dining room became the place to display the curriculum. Later, it would become the board room for school board meetings. This was a small operation.
On August 26, 1992, three months to the day, The Geneva School in Maitland, Florida, a suburb of Orlando, opened. I think 37 children made up the first year’s student population. They were fairly evenly spread across kindergarten through fifth grade. Two were ours: Jameson in second grade and Brandon in kindergarten.
During the summer we had many talks with Douglas Wilson, whose book had catalyzed all this. His assurances that we could do this, along with his frequent counsel, have led to a long-standing friendship. In fact, in our first conversation, which was shortly after reading the book and shortly before the meeting of May 26, he told us of a conference intended for folks like us. He and the folks at the school he had started—Logos School in Moscow, Idaho—were hosting it in just a few weeks. Many of us planned to attend.
It was a great trip. The Ingrams, Malones, Detweilers, and Laura Grace traveled to the little town in the northern part of Idaho to learn how to do what none of us had dreamed of doing before. We came back with our plans more fully developed. Many delegates at a conference like this would seek to meet with the faculty, administration, and board members of the hosting school. We did some of that, but not as a first priority. What we wanted was to meet the students, and we went straight to the founder’s kids. Our first day at the conference, we invited Wilson’s three children to lunch. Rebekah was a high school senior at the time, Nathan a junior, and Rachel in eighth grade. We wanted to see the product. We were not disappointed. They were winsome, engaging, and very well-spoken. They were not heady, showy, or self-absorbed. It was a great confirmation.
Their education at this wonderful school in this tiny little town had been a very well-kept secret. Now the word was out. Our contingent was fortunate enough to be part of the first group of beneficiaries. We learned much from them. Yet, we didn’t take everything they did to implement it thoughtlessly.