Updated: Feb 26
"Before buildings, before books, even before students, a school is a gathering, often of just a few friends, learning together, who love the same things and love to reflect and remark about them in conversation."
- James S. Taylor, Poetic Knowledge
In which case, St. Anthonys Academy began 25 years ago when some friends and I first read James S. Taylor’s Poetic Knowledge and John Senior’s Idea for a School and began to “reflect and remark about them in conversation.” Enthusiastic discussions took place amongst us as we envisioned offering this sort of intellectual salvation to students drowning in meaningless, commercialism-driven rigor. And then I began actually teaching in a conventional school, and I felt like I was drowning myself - in mountains of excessive grading, prisons of minute-by-minute syllabi, and the tears of incredibly anxious exam-takers - and the dream was subsumed by practical necessities for a while.
In more recent years, the dream of St. Anthonys has been reborn in the gathering of two friends that is our marriage. From the time of our engagement, my husband and I have imagined a school where students could reconnect with the real and truly love learning without stumbling under the baggage and burden that modern “education” has become. We have spent the past 17 years of our marriage studying, discussing, and preparing - although, amid the turmoil of parenting, we hoped for a while that someone else would take up the torch and do it for us. But, as it happened, our kids began entering adolescence and growing out of the 9-12 class at their amazing Montessori school. Because we believe very strongly in giving our kids the gift of a wonder-filled, joyful, experiential, classical education, this fall we will open the little school that has been so long in coming.
St. Anthonys Academy is a harmony of the philosophies of Maria Montessori and John Senior, the ideals of St. John Chrysostom and St. Benedict. We seek connection to the earth and connection to the polis. We embrace classical education and experiential education, Socratic dialogue and the Oxford tutorial system, liturgical music and folk music, the practical arts and the fine arts. We are forging something different from anything we have seen so far, a sort of “urban monastic” system. It is creating a spiritual bulwark through the Liturgy of the Hours, the spiritual alternative to the crippling anxiety manifested by the current conventional education system. We are offering a support system for parents and students who want freedom from the trance-inducing screen, a re-connection to creation and the real, and a communal pursuit of beauty and the arts.
This year we have been running a sort of “pilot program”, where not all the students take all the classes, teachers are paid directly by families, and we meet in various locations. It has been a good learning experience and good preparation for opening the actual school in the fall, but in the fall we will finally launch the program that we have been a long time building, and things will be different in multiple ways...our students will join us from 8:30 to 3pm Monday - Friday to participate in the full program, we have plans to build a school building, families will pay tuition through automatic debit, we will be singing the Liturgy of the Hours daily, and we will begin our practical and fine arts program. Over the next several months we will explore some of the reasons for why we are doing what we are doing - Why beekeeping? Why metallurgy? Why no grades? If you have a particular “why” you’d like answered, please let us know so we can try to work it into our line-up, or if you would like to contribute a piece on the value of a particular aspect of our program, please submit it for review. We have given all these things a lot of thought, and we look forward to sharing those thoughts with you.