As the school year wraps up, many scholars are graduating and moving on to the next stage of their education. It has been my honor to have been led by Providence to create, with Linda, the American Classical Leadership Education® and I am humbled by the impact I have seen it have on our scholars over the years. And as a portion of those students leave our school’s nest, I would like to share some thoughts coming from one soon-to-be graduate.
The American Classical Leadership Education® model teaches and inspires thinkers, leaders, inventors, citizens, entrepreneurs, and statesmen. It inspires, leads, and invites individuals “how to think” and teaches them why it is important. Robert Hutchins said classical education is “the education of free men in the knowledge and skills that are needed to remain free.” This is because leaders select the goals of a nation and the methods of achieving those goals, and the education of tomorrow’s leaders determines the level of freedom, prosperity, and integrity of the next generation.
Those may seem like lofty and rigorous standards to put on the shoulders of youth, but I assure you that the fruits that have been borne bear out the model. Here is an example exhibited through a response to the prompt “How has John Adams Academy changed you?”— a prompt that I give to the scholars and staff each year as the school year winds down.
How Has John Adams Academy Changed Me?
Lauren E. Bixler
“How my education at John Adams Academy changed me” is the question at hand and the topic of this essay. After giving the question a great deal of thought and reflection I was struck by the realization that, at least for me, it is the wrong question. In order to assess how my education has “changed” me, I need a frame of reference for what I was before. Fortunately, I have no such frame of reference because John Adams Academy is all I’ve ever known. I am blessed to have been formed and shaped by the curriculum and culture of John Adams Academy from the very beginning of my educational journey. Therefore, I think a better way to address the thrust of the question is to examine and celebrate what my education at John Adams Academy has helped me become – a scholar, servant leader, and citizen committed to a cause “greater than self” who has learned to love abundantly.
As a scholar I have learned to love classical education and the wisdom it imparts. Learning is a noble endeavor proper to human beings, and the ability to understand ideas and principles as “true” is among the most beautiful fruits of classical education. I have come to love learning and embrace it as a lifelong process. Nothing surpasses the knowledge and wisdom found in theClassics as they reveal the universal themes and great stories of human existence.
As a servant leader I have learned to love people and derive joy and purpose from working on their behalf. Through role models such as George Washington I have learned what true leadership is and how service is the essential component of it. Servant leadership is key to finding greater purpose in life. It is a signal virtue – one that prepares people for citizenship, equips them for self-government, and makes them worthy of the blessings of liberty.
For example, because I love my school and my fellow scholars I was pained to see the negative impact on connectedness and community spirit caused by the Covid pandemic and related public policy. I strongly believe the increase in social media use among my peer group has also contributed to this malaise. I felt compelled to address this problem so I created a sustainable peer mentoring program encouraging healthy, positive scholar connections. Having seen the enormous impact of mentors in my own life, I believed peer mentorship could reduce feelings of disconnectedness and restore authentic human engagement among my peers. With the support of staff and administration I was given the opportunity to incorporate this program into Secondary Lyceum and I am working on developing the model to include Elementary as well. This project catalyzed my passion for servant leadership and demonstrated how one person can have a positive impact on many. John Adams Academy nurtures servant leadership and creates an environment where it can flourish – within me, and within others.
As a citizen I have learned to love liberty, the Founding Principles, and the traditions of Western Civilization handed down by our forebears. John Adams Academy has prepared me for “citizenship” in the true sense of the word. Through my classical education and scholarship at John Adams Academy I have acquired powerful intellectual tools that will guide me as I engage a world increasingly hostile to the principles of freedom. As I contemplate the meaning of “Public and Private Virtue,” I consider courage to be the principal virtue upon which all others are predicated and feel confident that my time at John Adams Academy has prepared me for the fight that lies ahead.
At John Adams Academy I have also learned to love life. Life is precious and must be defended, both at the individual and societal levels. Life is also finite, creating a sense of urgency to act meaningfully and purposefully for the betterment of myself and my fellow citizens. Time is far too precious to squander on idle pursuits, enslaved to base desires or beholden to the whims of those who seek to rule over us. I learned at John Adams Academy that “Self-governance, Personal Responsibility and Accountability” are hallmarks of citizenship and liberty. That is my path.
I can’t know who I would be today had my path been different, but I know for certain I would not be the person I am without John Adams Academy. The culture, curriculum and extraordinary mentors at John Adams Academy have opened many doors for me and set me on this path of lifelong learning in pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Mentors have been my guiding light – because of them, I can envision a future full of purpose and abundance and possess the tools to pursue it fearlessly. Faced with a nation in crisis, my mentors have called me to duty – to be a beacon of hope for others and reject the temptation to despair. Drawing on the wisdom of the Classics and the encouragement of my peers and mentors, I will go forth with courage and boldly carry the best traditions of Western civilization and the American Founding into the future.
I am proud of the person I have become, and feel profound gratitude for the role John AdamsAcademy has played in making me that person. May I always act in a manner that brings honor to the name and legacy of our beloved school.
In a Democratic Republic such as the United States, all citizens have a part in government. Based upon true principles each citizen should be able to look past instant gratification, rhetoric, fancy speeches, and simplistic solutions to understand the right course of action. Every one of the citizens of this great nation has the responsibility once reserved for only the well-educated, the classically educated. And so, every citizen, college-bound or not, should receive the type of education that will develop greatness in mind and character to a become servant leader of integrity and sound judgment.
In Lauren I not only see a bright future, but I have confidence that she will be among the fiercest defenders of truth, beauty, and virtue out there. It is through her words that I hope you will see why I am calling all to a Revolution in Education.