It has been said that if you don’t love people, you can’t lead them. Preparing for what’s ahead always has precursors. When we set people up for success, it can cross a lot of boundaries. We can teach them healthy habits, we can model honorable character traits, we can show them valuable investments, and we can build up their esteem for themselves and others.
The book of Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Whether we are preparing them for college or next week’s soccer match, we engrain a message that says success happens when we are well equipped. At Petra Academy, one of the essentials that we prepare our students for is living in community. We model it at all stages of learning and engage our more experienced students to lead by example in fostering community.
Community is Built
Community is one of the most popular topics in our culture today. It is something that most people appreciate, though many never learn to cultivate it outside of the confines shared interest, life stage, or location. Teaching children how to build community is a basis for how they will learn to interact with the world around them.
Studies have shown that students who are taught aspects of relational engagement, through community, learn greater respect for authority, foster an ability to discuss differing perspectives toward a goal, and build a higher capacity for empathy toward their fellow humans. Classical schools tend to create communities of engaged students, fulfilled teachers, and parents who are highly involved in the cultivation of these things.
As parents, many times, we look at the influence of community more than the building blocks of it. This may come across as instructing our kids to hang out with other children we approve of, or the ones we know. But understanding the underlying elements of the community we cultivate will prepare them to grow into a person who values good things in their community: Good words, good friends, good habits, and good passions.
This is our goal at Petra Academy. We strive to foster community in and out of the classroom. We know that there are precursors to action, learning before understanding, and preparation before success. We look to develop engaged discussion while respecting the pursuit of truth and history, that affords a higher authority than opinion. We seek to cooperate, focusing on the broader impact we can make when we work together. We believe that if our school’s environment is motivating, supportive, and nurturing, we will cultivate the empathy needed to develop students who value those things as well.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his book Life Together, “The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” There is an interesting element to the modern engagement of community in the public sphere, where utopian ideals of “what it could be if…” fill the discussion space. But the abstract of community doesn’t teach children what it is or how to accomplish it as much as the intentional engagement of it does. As Bonhoeffer suggests, community is executed in a practical dynamic that engages those around them and extends care and affinity to them.
One of the ways we model this in our school is in the cooperative and engaged involvement of parents, teachers, and administrators in the education of each child. Classical schools understand their authority as delegated authority from the parents, so parental involvement and input is sought and treasured. The result is a community of teachers, students, and parents who care a lot about each other.
We use class size along with time and attention to cultivate connection. We use parent involvement through volunteerism, events, and teacher interaction to develop presence. We have administrators who know our children by name, by personality, and by their progress as students, modeling engaged accountability and respect for authority. At Petra, we don’t just dream of community; we intentionally engage it.
As a result, we find that our alumni end up with a concrete understanding of how to pursue healthy community as they grow, as they mature, and as they build their own families and friendships. As children, they see empathy and engagement modeled, and as adults, they carry those values into their approach to building community. They understand the importance of authority, accountability, and camaraderie. These are the building blocks of community that we encourage.
Life together is something we are immersed in at many stages of our lives, but knowing how to do it well sets us up for success, whatever we endeavor to do with our lives. We would love the opportunity to talk more about how you can be a part of our community. To schedule a tour, please visit us here. If you would like to find out more information, click here.
Petra Academy: Strong Minds, Soft Hearts, Rich Souls. Serving Bozeman since 1995.