Five Words of Advice When Selecting a School for your Child
By Russ Gregg, Head of School, Hope Academy
Let me begin by commending you for investing your time to research and select a great school for your child. Your choice of a school for your children is one of the 2 or 3 biggest decisions you will make in your lifetime.
Thirty years ago, my wife and I moved into the Phillip’s neighborhood in South Minneapolis. We raised our three children here. All are now college graduates, with successful careers, leading beautiful families. Based on my many years of experience, I want to share five words of advice for you to consider when choosing a school for your child.
First, Look for a True Education.
All schools used to be based on objective truth. Almost 100 years ago, the poison of relativism began seeping into American schools, capturing the minds and hearts of our youth. The Bible describes this enslavement as “being taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy.” School leaders today have largely rejected God and suppressed objective truth, replacing it with the false concept of relative, individual truths.
All education built on a fundamental lie will ultimately crumble and harm all those who have subjected themselves to it. Like those living in a city whose wall of protection has crumbled, the great hope for your children is to rebuild a wall of righteousness based on the unshakeable, unchanging truth of the Word of God.
Second, Look for an Academically Challenging and Spiritually Vigorous Education.
Beware of the soft bigotry of low expectations. A great school will not tolerate differing standards of education and behavior– a suburban standard and an urban standard. Great schools believe all students should be prepared to go on to college if they so choose.
This is why all students at Hope Academy study Latin for five years. They study Algebra as 8th graders and do a year of Calculus as seniors. All students at Hope Academy are expected to read and discuss great books, like the works of Shakespeare, Homer’s Odyssey, and Pride and Prejudice.
Look for a school that believes that all students are capable of practicing virtuous, moral behavior with God’s help. And look for a school that cultivates wonder and worship in your child. God created your child to love and enjoy God.
Third, Look for a Vibrant Community of Parents and Teachers.
What’s the single best predictor of school success? Engaged and involved parents.
Remember, you’re not just sending your child to a school. You’re really joining a school family. Ideally, that should sound inviting and empowering to you.
Jesus taught us something very important about all education. He said, “when a student is fully trained, he will become like his teacher.” This is an inviolable principle. You can’t avoid it!
Look very carefully into who will be teaching your child. If Jesus is correct, then your children will grow up to resemble their teachers.
Fourth, Look for Educational Accountability.
You may be the one person in a million who doesn’t require accountability, but all the rest of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, know we need accountability. All the most successful people in the world are keenly aware of their own weaknesses, and they purposefully invite accountability into their lives.
The parents at Hope Academy make a solemn pledge to be involved and engaged in their child’s education, and they are willing to be held accountable to that pledge. Therefore, 97% of Hope Academy parents attend their child’s Parent/Teacher conference, and those who miss their conference get it rescheduled the following week.
Finally, Look for a Sacrificial Education.
As in most things, beware of anything that’s free. We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free cruise to the Bahamas. Beware of any schools that cost you nothing. There’s something dynamic about a school where everyone has some skin in the game.
Let’s review my five words of advice in selecting a school. I strongly suggest that you look for:
- A true education built on the truth of the word of God.
- A rigorous education that cultivates wisdom, wonder, and worship.
- An authentic educational community of parents and teachers.
- An accountable education, where accountability is welcomed and not resented.
- Finally, a sacrificial education, where everyone has some skin in the game.
Ultimately, all schooling comes down to trust. As a parent, you must find a school for your children led by people you deeply trust. Unless you are home-schooling, you will be entrusting your greatest treasures in the world to a school for the next 13 years. In the strongest possible terms, I advise you not to send your children to a school unless you have complete trust in the leaders of that school.
Choosing a school for your children is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. We pray that God will help you and your family as you make this life-changing decision!