I have been a public school teacher for 23 years. My first year of teaching in 1990 bears testimony to the fact that I was an enemy of the public schools from the very beginning, but without a tremendous depth of understanding why. In 2008 the good Lord called me out of darkness from a secular humanist to the Body of Christ. By the gifts of the Holy Spirit enhanced by the study of philosophy and theology, comprehension began to sanctify my mind and heart. Every year for the last five years saw the chasm increase between what I was able to do and what the schools wanted me to do. I have always taught as I saw fit and from the beginning it has always been a cat and mouse game to teach the children the myths, the fairy tales, the Great Conversation and even about the wisdom emanating from the eternal word of God. By the year 2013, the disparity between Christ’s call the mission of the public schools spanned a grand canyon.
My conversion to Christ is of a radical nature and is seemingly matched by the free-falling condition of the public schools. As God continues to raise my mind to those things above, the public schools accelerate their descent to that which lies below. The new Common Core, the synthesis of all modern educational errors since the 70’s, is a real sea change, not because it is any different than what came before it, but because in its breadth, depth and reach into modern error, it is unprecedented.
So I continued to operate in the public schools, teaching Catholic truth in defiance of the great naked empress, thinking that the discomfort I was suffering was the lightest penance for a soul so recently gifted conversion. The thought of leaving the public schools was as foreign to me as the victim of Stockholm syndrome after 23 years of captivity. However, presaging providential events some months ago, Deacon Ed Pielter suggested I leave the public schools for a faithful Catholic school. He told me he thought I deserved it. I didn’t think I did. It seemed unthinkable to me at the time, but as it percolated, it became more and more a real evident next step. My wife Faith and I talked it over and we both resolved to leave the fetid public schools and head to the private Catholic schools.
We both applied to our local Catholic schools only to be utterly rejected. I even went to Dr. Seeley’s list of Catholic classical schools to inquire about new employment. We turned to embrace a drastic reduction in pay to propagate Catholic truth and found no opportunity. We had just wrapped up a pathetic year in 2014 that saw us both thrust into 24 days of intense training on the Common Core with the promise of the most dreadful year of our careers facing us in 2014-15. We were both fully prepared to embrace this appalling year of Common Core implementation when on June 11th, out of nowhere, my friend Michael Verlander sent me an email asking if I would like to move to Atlanta to teach theology at Holy Spirit Prep.
Though I had considered uprooting in months past, closed avenues allowed apathy to grip my soul concerning my employment future and the hobbit in me wanted to stay put and avoid any unnecessary adventures. So I put out the impossible reply, “sure I will come on out from CA to GA to teach at Holy Spirit if you give my wife a job teaching second grade at the lower school and accept my two daughters at the upper school with me while allowing me to remain in possession of my arm and my leg.” One also ought to be careful of what he asks for.
Within a week the principals of these two fine schools conducted phone interviews that went better than we had a right to hope for. A week after that they invited us out to Atlanta for three days including face to face interviews. But as the surreal was approaching the real, we still didn’t begin to imagine that this could really happen even as we boarded a plane to fly out to our good neighbors in the South. We were taken in by the beauty of Holy Spirit and the hearty and faithful quality of the good souls in leadership who met us, interviewed us and gave us tours of the upper and lower schools. We drove around Atlanta for a few days, flew home and shortly after had to consider a very tempting offer whose promise included as many crosses as consolations.
My wife and I had to appeal to the “Took” in us and we threw caution to the wind, packed up quicker than is prudent and hit the road on a trip of a lifetime. We drove across the country leaving everything we had known for the last 4 decades behind including some precious relationships. From first contact on June 11th to July 17th, in less than six weeks, in a blink of an eye, we went from the public schools in California to a faithful Catholic school in the South. You can read a little more detail about our trip here.
There is nothing more sorely needed in our schools than the Truth. There is nothing more vital to a recovery of culture than a recovery of the properly ordered Catholic, Classical education. Here at When I Discovered Your Words I will frequently chronicle difficulties, epiphanies, insights, triumphs, failures and things funny that relate to the nature of an authentic education and expose the spirit of falsity that permeates academia and the public schools. I will always welcome questions, comments, and criticism in an attempt to build a community with a consensus about education that converges our minds with reality. I will use this transition as a matrix to develop an understanding of what so terribly plagues the public schools and how those things have been encroaching on Catholic education for far too long now. It is my privilege and honor to enter into this important conversation at The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.