As we begin our fourth week of our 24th school year, here’s an excerpt from a letter sent recently to long-time (17 years) Humanities teacher Gregg Valeriano.
The student who wrote the letter did not finish at Petra, but she didn’t leave until after her freshman year, during which she had Mr. Valeriano for Humanities 9. She wrote:
Dear Mr. V.,
I’m sure you aren’t expecting my letter, but it’s been waiting to be written ever since I left Petra Academy. I’m in college now, so I feel it’s a good time. I was in your class my freshman year. Ironically, my next three years of high school only felt like regression. I kept thinking back to your classes – how much I missed and felt like I needed them.
The time I spent in them opened my eyes in ways I cannot thank you enough for. I, a young woman, was confused with myself and the world. I was ignorant but felt like I knew everything. I held myself up as a logical person, and I never thought hard about anything. When I sat in that classroom, I felt like I was who God had made me to be. I was so inspired from your ideas and perspectives. I felt like the way you put things was simply brilliant…
There are things you taught me that I still know now: Clean Slate Theory; Nihilism; Psychological Egoistic Hedonism…[but] there are two that stuck with me the most: relativism and objectivism. I sound like I might be insane, but those two things are what make me who I am today. I am on a constant hunt to find the truth about everything. I’m always dividing things I see into truth or lie…
…Life is harsh on people like us, I think. It seems as if ignorance and discomfort are viciously protected in the high school setting and most communities. The people who try to open their eyes to new perspectives are dangerous. I hope to change it if I ever get a sliver of a chance; you have taught me that it is worth it.
I still regret not opening up to you back then. I think we could have had great conversations. However, I believe God is someone who can fill that void. Thank you for teaching me the way that you taught me, and [for] being the way that you are. It has changed me forever (in ways I find very hard to explain). I hope you and your family are healthy and I wish you the best in life.
This former student’s letter illustrates much of what goes on in our classical Christian classrooms. We’re grateful for teachers like Mr. V. teaching our students, as well as for your support of our school. Please pray for our students – present, past, and future – that God will use Petra to spur them on in “finding the truth about everything.”
Gregg Valeriano, Humanities Chair
Originally from Memphis, TN, Mr. Valeriano earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Literature from Northeastern Bible College, a Master of Arts in Theology from Wheaton College Graduate School, and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.
After a two-year stint teaching at L’Abri Fellowship in Huémoz, Switzerland, “Mr. V.” (as he is affectionately known) moved to Montana and eventually began teaching humanities and logic at Petra in 2003. He and his wife, Anya, have two daughters and a son, and his favorite literary/historical figures are Abdiel from Paradise Lost and Edmund Burke.