As far back as I can remember, and even through my post graduate education, I would ask myself before the start of each school year, “Am I ready?” I wish I could say that I confidently thundered “Yes” as my response. I usually finished the previous year well, but my question about readiness went far deeper than my own abilities. It was fundamentally a question about relationships. I soon would experience a new teacher, new expectations, new standards, a new classroom, new classmates, and a whole host of new rules and requirements. Oh so much to learn, before I started to really learn anything! This sense of starting over each fall was unsettling, and it always seemed to take a few months for me to feel as though I fit into my new environment. In fact, it was the adjustment to the new environment and all the new relationships that was difficult, not the academic work.
I often wonder how many young students today feel like the prophet Jonah as they prepare to start school. Desperately trying to flee in any direction but Nineveh, they find themselves swallowed up by some large yellow monster (school bus) that spits them out on the shores (sidewalk) of a massive city (school). Scary stuff!
As we at Westminster Academy start the school year, we face a very different situation than the one I always dreaded and that many young children today face. When Westminster Academy students return to school, they are, in fact, returning home. Not home in a physical sense, but home in a deeper and far more important understanding of the term. They are returning to a loving environment where the object of the faculty and staff’s love is Jesus Christ. They are returning to a loving environment where the faculty and staff love their students and seek to mentor, nurture, shepherd, and encourage them each and every day. They are returning to a loving environment where the teachers love their subjects in front of their students. They are returning to a loving environment where we pray for one another, serve one another, and hold one another accountable with grace and humility. In short, our loving relationship with the Lord defines all our other relationships as we seek to take every thought captive to Christ.
So, in a very real and tangible way, we serve Christian parents as a home away from home for their children. A place where children never have to question “Am I loved?” “Do I fit in?” “Will I have friends?” and “Can I grow into all that God has designed me to become?” We open doors to the great conversations of the ages and to the great professions of today. We open doors to the great works of Western civilization and to the ethical issues of today. We open doors to the great experiments of the past and what fulfilling the dominion mandate means today.
Perhaps most importantly, at Westminster Academy we partner with parents to demonstrate what Christian community can and should look like, to the glory of God. We do this imperfectly, but with a willingness to quickly confess, repent, forgive, and move forward in renewed fellowship knowing that in Christ, reconciliation, joy, and contentment can be found. Together, we provide a spiritual home to properly prepare students for the future Ninevehs in their lives.
Home is where the heart is, and at Westminster Academy we are educating the heart to love what God loves, and to hate what God hates. It is exciting to be at Westminster as school starts for the 2016-2017 school year. It is also reassuring to know that we do not have to fear large yellow sea monsters!