Our History and Philosophy
Grace Academy History
Grace Academy began in 2000 in Georgetown, Texas, after three families who had classically homeschooled their children for a year decided to combine their efforts. The school started with seven students from these families and three teachers. The next year (fall 2001) a number of other families joined, providing a total of 29 students in grades K-6. Over the years Grace Academy has continued to grow such that we now serve about 200 students in grades K-12.
After renting space from local churches, in January of 2007 Grace Academy moved to its permanent campus on State Highway 195 just north of Georgetown. This beautiful 35-acre campus now houses eight classroom/office buildings, and the long-term campus master plan includes a gymnasium, theater, and expanded athletic fields as well as permanent classroom and office space.
Grace Academy Philosophy
Our philosophy of education at Grace Academy is rooted in our mission statement: To glorify God by serving parents in providing their children a distinctly Christ-centered, academically excellent, classical education as a foundation for life-long learning. Based on this mission, everything we do at Grace Academy is Distinctly Christ-centered, Uniquely Classical, and Committed to Lifelong Learning.
At Grace Academy, being a Christian school does not mean merely that students are required to take a Bible class or participate in a weekly chapel service. Rather it means that every aspect of education, both inside and outside of the classroom, is guided by a Christian understanding of God, human beings, and the world around us. For example, given the nature of the creator God, the ultimate purpose of education is to lead students toward the knowledge, love, and worship of him. Given that the created universe reflects the nature of God, we teach students to view creation as intrinsically good and to study creation with an attitude of inquisitiveness and awe. Given that humans were created by God as holistic beings, students are educated in a way that trains not only their minds but their bodies and hearts as well. Given that all truth has God as its single source, we view knowledge as a coherent whole, and the study of God and his creation through the different disciplines is undertaken as a unified enterprise. Math and science, for example, are not viewed as wholly distinct from the humanities such as literature and history. Rather all the disciplines are taught in a way that recognizes their dependence upon each other and their shared goal of coming to understand the nature of God and his creation.
While our Statement of Faith encapsulates our core Christian beliefs, we recognize that these are not merely doctrinal propositions to which we assent. Rather they are beliefs that should have profound implications on how we conceive of the nature of education and put that education into practice. Thus Grace Academy is distinctly Christ-centered in that we allow the truths of a Christian worldview to permeate every aspect of our education. This occurs every day in classrooms, in our regular chapel services, through service projects, by the way we treat student discipline as discipleship, through Scripture memorization, and by how students treat each other and their teachers. In everything we do (both inside and outside of the classroom), we promote a Christ-centered culture that fosters an atmosphere of worship, awe, intellectual curiosity, piety, and holiness.
Grace Academy is a classical school in that we pattern our education after the classical model of education which was the dominant educational paradigm from the time of the ancient Greeks up until the end of the nineteenth century. While throughout these centuries education was conceived of and practiced in a number of different ways, there nevertheless were certain core beliefs about education that served as a common foundation for this variety of educational theory and practice. For example, classical education takes the purpose of education to be the cultivation of whole human beings, not just the preparation of students for a particular job or function in society. It is called a “liberal” education because it makes men free: It equips them to live and to continue learning. (The Latin word liber means “free.”) The goal of classical education, in other words, is not to teach people how to do a job but rather to teach them how to be human beings. Given this view of education, classical education values not only students’ mental training but their physical and moral training as well, and its goal is to form people of piety and virtue whose physical and mental abilities are directed and controlled by a mature moral compass.
Classical education also views knowledge as a coherent whole and the various disciplines as unified in their common pursuit of knowledge. Thus the various elements in the classical curriculum (traditionally music, gymnastics, the seven liberal arts (trivium and quadrivium), philosophy, and theology) are not taught as disjointed enterprises but as multiple facets of a coherent pursuit of truth. All of these disciplines function together and build on each other to provide a coherent understanding of the universe.
Classical education views the role of the teacher as that of a guide. As such the teacher is responsible both for imparting knowledge to students and also for leading them, through instruction and example, in their own pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and character. The word “educator” comes from the Latin educere which means to lead out. Thus the teacher’s role is to lead students on a journey of learning. While our teachers are highly qualified professional educators, they also are learners who are further down the road of learning than the students and lead them as knowledgeable and experienced intellectual guides.
Finally, classical education places a high value on pursuing knowledge and wisdom through the study of great thinkers of the past. Throughout the history of education there is a long tradition of studying the works of past thinkers and becoming part of the great conversation through learning from and responding to them. Subjects are often best learned, we believe, by studying and imitating the works of past masters.
While the classical model of education as described by these core beliefs is not the only legitimate means of education, for some 2,500 years it has been the paradigm that has been successfully used to educate successive generations. Given this longstanding legacy of educational effectiveness, it seems short-sighted to reject this model in favor of a radically different approach to education that has been practiced for less than 150 years and whose results are highly questionable. Furthermore, given the educational implications that follow from Grace’s identity as a distinctly Christ-centered school, the classical model of education seems particularly well-suited for an education that is pervasively Christian. Indeed, for almost two millennia the vast majority of Christian education has been implemented from this classical perspective.
Committed to Lifelong Learning
At Grace Academy we recognize that no matter how much education we pack into the 13 years that students spend with us, there inevitably will be more that they need and want to learn. Thus while some people in our contemporary society view education as a finite process directed toward a specific goal (college acceptance, a job, financial security, etc.), we view education as an ongoing process that never ends. Thus we strive to equip students with the habits, dispositions, and skills that they will need to keep learning as they adapt to whatever situations they face in our rapidly changing world. We work to develop in them the mental and moral muscle that will enable them to continue growing and flourishing as human beings for the rest of their lives. While it is certainly true (as our graduates demonstrate) that a Grace Academy education is highly beneficial for success in college and for acquiring meaningful and productive jobs, we conceive of the goal of education as something much broader and long-term. We care about the people our graduates become, not only as college students and members of the work force but also as parents, grandparents, citizens, church members, leaders in their communities, and servants to those around them. At Grace Academy we thus are planting educational seeds that will bear fruit for years to come as we equip students to live well and to continue learning for the rest of their lives – always for the glory of God.