The Veritas Story, Part 3
By Marlin Detweiler
(This will make more sense if you read the prior installments.)
We developed the curricular objective of teaching history and the Bible in an integrated way. It was also important to us to teach history from the beginning. Most educators have focused on American history in grammar school. We were committed to teaching more than that. Teaching history from the beginning—Creation to the present—was always important to us. We also knew that history taught separate from the Bible was a mistake. Learning about ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, or ancient Rome and not being able to relate such learning to biblically recorded events has created and continues to create children with a tragically bifurcated understanding of history. It seemed crucial to us to understand the effect of Greco-Roman culture and ideas on the world into which Christ was born. The more I learn about the New Testament, the more I realize how important this is.
Another problem this integration mitigated was sequencing. Biblically literate children can tell you many of the great biblically recorded events and keep them in order—they learned their Sunday School lessons well. But ask them which came first, Christ’s earthly ministry or the pyramids, and you will frequently be told “Christ’s ministry” because it’s in the Bible. I was never much of a history student, (and I have the transcripts to prove it!) however, it has become increasingly clear to me that a good working knowledge of all of history—especially who, what where and when—is invaluable for any number of things. Not the least of these is to avoid repeating those parts of history that ought not be repeated. Our educational endeavors have continued to bear this out in the lives of the students we have worked with. Biblical understanding in a historical context is no less important.
We went looking for curriculum that would meet these objectives and found nothing that did all we believed was important. So Laurie developed the idea, and some very helpful school parents developed some lists of events to use. It was a very rough idea of what would become the foundation of Veritas Press, the Veritas Press History and Bible curriculum that incorporates flashcards, projects and music.
The first year of a school is an exciting time. This was never truer for us than at The Geneva School. To be sure, there were bumps in the road, but they paled in comparison to the education and the joy of coming home with our children each day. The year sped by. The summer after the first year included another trip to the conference in Idaho. This time our delegation included just three of us, Laurie, me and Michael Eatmon, our first hire. He was the Academic Dean and a teacher. Mr. Eatmon was no taller than some of his fifth grade students. But what he brought to the school was enormous. The relationship he developed with his students was exhilarating. Imagine a young jock knowing nothing but sports coming home and saying, “Mom, we listened to Pachelbel’s Canon in D at school. Would you mind getting me a copy so I can listen to it at home when I read?” He managed to develop that love for learning referred to earlier that had every single parent shaking their heads. It was magical.
The second year of the conference was much like the first—except bigger, much bigger. Word was getting out, and the popularity of what has become known as classical Christian education was growing exponentially. We found ourselves right in the middle of it. Shortly after we arrived Wilson mentioned to me how much he had seen interest grow and was convinced we needed to start an association to assist these blossoming schools. He invited the two Logos School administrators (Tom Garfield and Tom Spencer) and me to a meeting with him to discuss establishing such an organization. The meeting became the beginning of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS). From that point forward the conference which we had attended the previous two years would become known as the ACCS Conference—even retroactively to include the first two.
What had Laurie and I gotten ourselves into? Whatever it was or would become it was not what we had envisioned a little more than a year earlier. The Geneva School grew from 37 students the first year to over 75 for the second year. Growth pains are good problems, but they are still very real problems. More staff, more desks, more of everything. Laurie couldn’t even go to the grocery store without someone cornering her to find out more about this “wonderful new school.” The second school year had similar blessings and challenges, except that they were both scaled up a bit for the sheer size of the challenges.
Registration for the third year burgeoned to over 175. I’ll do the math for you: 37 to 75 is 103% growth; seventy-five to 175 is 133% growth. By any standard that’s fast. It created stress and challenges. Other stresses existed, too. Laurie and I had become increasingly convinced of the importance of Christian education for children of Christian parents. We had seen the value of many practices and habits that others with whom we worked believed were neither practical nor realistic in a metropolitan environment like Orlando. Tensions mounted. As we considered our options we determined to leave The Geneva School in the very capable hands of the remaining board members and to move on. And move we did.