In today’s world the thought of intertwining both religion and education is nearly considered to be taboo. It seems to be a rather touchy subject and the topic has caused heated debates across the nation, including right here in the Lone Star State.
Of course it always hasn’t been this way by any means. In fact, according to various polls, the majority of Americans — and especially Texans — feel it shouldn’t be that way.
For public schools, that line of thinking will most likely be the status quo going forward. Private schools, however, are free to do as they please when it comes to religious activity.
One such school that is taking advantage of that religious freedom is Brownwood based Cross Classical Academy, which serves the area since opening seven years ago.
The school doesn’t use the traditional approach to teaching students. CCA is actually quite different, as it follows the University-Model® Schooling method (also known as UMS) that integrates both the classroom teacher and the child’s parents to educate the student.
It’s not a Monday through Friday type school that is regularly associated with public education, nor is it a homeschool. Instead it’s a hybrid of the two. The students are in CCA’s classroom two days a week, while being taught by their parents at their home the other three days, and all lessons for the week are prepared by the academy’s certified teachers.
Clearly this approach differentiates them from other schools, but it’s how they implement Christianity, along with Christian values and teachings, into their daily educational routine that has the academy standing out above the rest.
“At Cross Classical Academy we believe that education is never neutral,” said Stephanie Davis, administrator of CCA and attorney-at-law. “It is more than the mere transmission of facts. It involves the communication of life principles and values. Therefore we feel it requires a spiritual context. We believe that facts, whether they be mathematical, historical, scientific or otherwise, can only represent truth if they are taught in the context of a Christian worldview. This belief permeates our goals and objectives, including our teaching methods and our curriculum as well.
“This mission of our school is to partner with parents to provide for their children a classical education founded upon a Biblical worldview in a University-Model® setting,” she added.
Davis’ colleague Monica Minzenmayer, CCA’s Chapel Director and curriculum coordinator, feels the same and believes that Christian teachings and values can be tied into any subject the academy teaches.
“Biblical integration is a major part of the backbone of our curriculums and academic subjects,” said Minzenmayer. “For example, in handwriting our students copy and write scripture verses to practice manuscript and cursive penmanship. This, of course, also exposes them to rich language and vocabulary at an early age.”
The academy has found many creative ways to include Christianity into other common educational subjects as well.
Just like with any school, the students attending CCA learn the basics of those subjects, but here it gets taken a step further. Pupils receive a much more in depth and complex look at what they’re learning by combining religious teachings with the basics.
“History class integrates Biblical and church history with the study of all the important historical events from creation to modern times,” explained Minzenmayer. “We feel like when the students are studying history, it really comes alive for them when they learn Biblical history in the context of the events happening around the world in various government and people groups. For example we have a group of students currently analyzing ow Christian values of our founding fathers shaped the history of the United States.”
“Reading and literature selections include classic works, as well as books by great Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis and biographies of role models in the faith,” she added.
Another approach that Cross Classical Academy utilizes on the two days the children are in attendance there is with their chapel program. On Monday and Wednesday morning the entire student body, along with all of the faculty, gather for a brief period of worshipping and prayer.
“Each school day begins with chapel where the focus is on worship and character development,” Minzenmayer said. “The students study and memorize scripture passages. This year they are memorizing James 1 and 2. They also learn character callouts that are based on key Bible verses. Each week we have character building lessons with examples from nature as well as from the Bible.”
callouts that are based on key Bible verses. Each week we have character building lessons with examples from nature as well as from the Bible.”
Ask any staff member and they’ll quickly tell you that they feel the chapel portion of the day is one of the most important activities that take place at the academy.
“Chapel is the heartbeat of our day here,” said Stephanie Davis. “It’s the one time that all of our faculty, staff, students and parents are together. We worship together, pray over the students together and learn from the Word together. Chapel really sets the tone for our school day. I feel like it’s hard to have a bad day when you’ve experiences our chapel service.”
The results of what Davis, Minzenmayer and the rest of the staff and faculty at Cross Classical Academy have put together are hard to argue with. Since opening their doors in 2010, the school has seen their enrollment numbers grow substantially each year since.
They credit that growth to their educational and religious approach.
“I wholeheartedly believe our numbers here at Cross Classical have increased because we are a Christian based educational program,” said Davis. “On our application we ask families what factor(s) most influences them to apply to our school and nine times out of ten our Christian philosophy is their first priority.”
For more information on Cross Classical Academy, including on how you can enroll your child, go online to crossclassicalacademy.com or look them up on Facebook at ‘Cross Classical Academy’.