As we begin together, I was thinking about those who are new to our school family. When you married into your husband’s or wife’s family, you learned their traditions, their ways of doing things, what made their family distinct. When you’ve been a part of a school community for a long time, it’s easy to forget what it was like to be a new family member. So, I decided to start by writing about our core values. What makes Grace, well, Grace? And, if you’ve been here a while, it’s kind of fun to celebrate what God’s done in our family. So, here we go:
If one looks at any website of virtually any school in America, it will be replete with platitudes of “academic excellence.” That term is thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Different things to different people, apparently, if one looks at the varying quality of schools that employ the term in their self-descriptions. The term clearly rises to the level of cliché, but it is often one without any transcendent significance. A core value is something that forms the very essence of what one is, a “hill to die on” (also a cliché). It stands to reason, therefore, that a core value must be clearly understood. Which is why, at Grace Community School, we say that one of our three core values is the pursuit of educational sanctification.
When we talk about “education” at Grace, we certainly mean everything that happens in the classroom. But, it encompasses so much more. Athletics, fine arts, class trips, community service opportunities, chapels, programs and ceremonies are all opportunities to teach Jesus to students. Even one-on-one mentoring and deep conversations about life issues are considered part of the education that Grace and its teachers provide. It includes both the explicit and the implicit curriculum, content and modeling. In short, it includes everything we do at Grace.
For the Christian, “sanctification” is a term rife with meaning. It captures the idea of holiness, to be set apart, completely other from the world. “Sanctification” also connotes the idea of a Holy Spirit-led, continuous process of moving forward, of becoming more in the image of Christ: better, purer, more holy, than we once were.
Educational sanctification is the idea that God’s Word- the written, revealed Word and the Word made flesh through Jesus Christ- is the foundation of everything that we do as a school. Our policies, our procedures, our practices, our curriculum, our ways of dealing with each other, and everything must proceed from the gospel. Teachers and administrators must see all of life and learning through the eyes of our Father, and must guide our students in the transformation, the renewal of their minds. The goal is for students to understand God’s Word and His perspective on all of life and all of creation. We believe that only through this transformation are we able to fully glorify God and enjoy Him forever to the greatest extent He created us to do so.
Educational sanctification is also the idea that we will be continually seeking to be better than we once were, by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We will ask ourselves the hard questions, challenge the status quo, and be lifetime learners. We will model a passion for learning to our students by reflecting it in our own lives. We will not assume that something is better simply because it is new, but neither will we so assume simply because that’s the way we’ve always done it. If we make mistakes or if we’ve been slow to change, we’ll seek forgiveness and move forward, never being afraid to engage in this continuous process of becoming better than we once were.
Continuously striving towards holiness and growth in all of the business of Grace. That’s educational sanctification.