Interested in how our mission applies to the youngest of our Petra Academy students? We asked K4 teacher, Joan Kempf, for her thoughts on the matter. A graduate with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education from the University of North Dakota, Joan has taught and consulted in early childhood education classes (including teaching children with learning disabilities) for twelve years. This is her second year at Petra.
Petra’s mission begins with the phrase, “Recognizing our need for God’s grace…” What does that look like with four-year-olds?
Since we all fall short of the glory of God, we recognize the need for God’s saving grace not only for salvation, but for everything else as well, including our social and emotional skills. Seeking to honor God through our behavior and teaching love for Jesus is our primary goal when teaching social skills to students. Many K4 students are attending school or any organized social interaction for the first time and need to learn how to play, work, and move within a group setting. It is important that students feel safe and comfortable at school so that these skills can be guided and directed throughout the day. As teachers, we seek to demonstrate grace and humility through our daily guidance and interactions with students. Some of the skills we help students achieve are:
-Separating easily from a parent
-Independence in toileting/washing
-Playing with others in a “kind” way (sharing and taking turns)
-Develop empathy for others by noticing when a classmate is frustrated or sad
-Respecting other people and their personal material
-Interacting positivity with peers (uses words vs. grabbing/pushing/hitting/kicking )
-Sit on the floor with peers without touching them with their hands or feet
-Begin to use “please” and “thank you” when talking to others
The innate curiosity of young learners lends itself to provide opportunities for self-directed exploration and teacher-directed activities in the K4 classroom. Many activities during our free choice time are designed to engage students in cause and effect opportunities. Students will build with gears, tubes, blocks, Legos, and other manipulative materials. We also utilize a wide array of sensory materials (shaving cream, salt, water, sand) and incorporate playing with cars and trucks, using tweezers and magnifying glasses, and utilization of containers with different volumes to increase their awareness and understanding of science-based terms and applications.
In addition, students learn about the seasons and explore items related to the season, talk about the changes in weather and how weather effects us and the world around us. Teaching the days of creation offers the opportunity to participate in activities about heaven, earth, sea, animals, dark, light plants and trees. Students learn about various animals, reptiles, bugs, volcanoes, wind, and other science themes through literature and activities throughout the school year.
Students also participate in various fine art activities that include the utilization of a wide array of art mediums, music and movement. Students create projects that relate to weekly and monthly educational/biblical concepts being taught through:
-Painting with brushes, forks, string, marbles, etc.
-Drawing with markers, colors, white erase boards/markers
-Expressing themselves through dramatic play centers
-Singing songs and doing movement activities
-Preparing and performing recitation songs/chants
-Observing Grammar student’s recitation (K-6th grade)
Finally, preparing students to write is an important part of our K4 curriculum; in fact, most activities in all curricular areas lend themselves to developing fine motor strength and dexterity. Isolating the muscles in the hand and wrist are accomplished through activities like putting together puzzles, lacing, play dough, manipulating tweezers, peg boards, linking chains and blocks, cutting, coloring, tracing designs and letters, and sensory play.
Some of the skills developed are:
-Pencil grasp-training to use a pincer or tripod grasp (holding the writing/coloring object with the thumb and the pointer finger while resting it on the middle finger)
-Crossing the midline of the body while writing/coloring (ability to move from left to right side of body while using one hand)
-Increasing hand and finger strength
-Hand eye coordination (processing information to accomplish the tasks)
-Hand dominance (consistently using the same hand to accomplish tasks)
-Ability to copy and print letters and numbers
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working as Academic Advisor for the past three years. In this capacity, I have read a great deal about the college application process, standardized testing in general, and the PSAT, SAT and SAT II, ACT, and Advanced Placement (AP) courses tests specifically. Petra does not offer AP courses, and I strongly support this decision. Let me tell you why.
The AP program is administered by the College Board – “a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity.” Launched in the 1950s, the AP program allowed highly capable high school students to earn college credit while completing college-equivalent work in high school.
AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, roughly correlating in reverse to the letter grades (A=5, B=4, C=3, D-2 and F=1) and are administered only once annually, during the first two weeks of May. The cost to the student to take each AP Exam is $95, but there are a number of fees paid to the College Board in order for a school to offer an “AP Certified” course. Instructor training, specific curriculum, textbooks, and other fees add up to anywhere between $2,000-$10,000 per course for a school to offer an AP class, regardless of how many students enroll.
As the debate continues around the country regarding Common Core, the College Board is aligning their testing standards to the Common Core standards. The revisions of some AP exams have drawn heavy criticism (consider this example involving the AP U.S. History course), and this article in The Atlantic goes so far as to say, “The AP classroom is where intellectual curiosity goes to die.” Not exactly the most reassuring of endorsements.
Parents are often told that a student “needs” to take AP courses in order to be competitive for college admissions. This is simply not true. Colleges use AP Exam scores as part of an overall assessment of a student’s ability to successfully accomplish college-level work. Unfortunately, many students who graduate from high school are not college-ready, which has led to an increased emphasis on standardized test scores in order for colleges to assess a student’s ability.
For larger schools with multiple academic tracks, AP courses can indicate a student who is both motivated and capable; however, college admissions personnel understand that small schools are not staffed to offer a wide range of courses. A strong ACT score, a robust high school course selection, and a solid GPA all demonstrate that a student is college-ready. In my communications with college admissions departments, I provide book lists, syllabi, and/or scope and sequences as necessary to demonstrate the strength of Petra’s curriculum, and the absence of an AP course on a transcript from our small school has never been detrimental to our students’ overall application packages.
Another criticism of the AP program is that high schools are not required to screen students who enroll in AP courses. Of course, many students who opt to take an AP class are well-prepared, hard working students, but any student can sign up, so there may be students in an AP class who are neither well-prepared nor hard-working, which undermines the ability of the teacher to teach the class at a college level.
The College Board states that, “many colleges grant credit or placement based on a 3 or better on an AP exam.” This varies widely by school. For example, Montana State will grant credit or placement for a 3 or better; other colleges, however, will only grant placement with a 4 and credit with a 5. “Credit” here means that the college will grant credit for the course and the student does not have to take it at all, in essence saying, “You demonstrated mastery of the course content of English 101 and we will award you graduation credit for that course.” Earning a 5 on an AP exam is a challenge for even the strongest student, however, and may not truly reflect that student’s ability—essentially the problem with any standardized test.
“Placement” in this context means that a student can opt out of the freshman-level course (e.g. English 101), but this still leaves the student with the need to fulfill that graduation requirement, in essence saying, “You demonstrated mastery of the course content of English 101, but you must choose a different English course in order to fulfill our graduation requirements.” Thus, while a student moves on, he or she does not necessarily get ahead in terms of tuition savings.
Finally, the AP exams have been touted as a way to shorten the length of time required to earn a college degree. This claim is dubious and varies widely based on the institution in question. On this topic, one Petra parent (whose two older students are now in college) shared that, “Our experience has been that the nature of course requirements, prerequisites and class offerings/scheduling leave almost no opportunity to ‘speed up’ the academic schedule.” Why is this? Because colleges and universities have little incentive to reduce the amount of time a student is enrolled, defining “success” as students completing – not shortening – full courses of study.
As a parent who has chosen private education for my children, I value our school’s ability to design and implement our classical and Christian curriculum without interference from the Department of Education; offering an AP course would require us to go against this decision, which we will not do. As Petra’s Academic Advisor, I work with the AP coordinator at Bozeman High School to streamline the registration process for any Petra students who wish to take the AP exams. We have had 11 students take the AP English Language exam over the past three years, and our students’ average score – without taking the actual course – is a 4, which validates the strength of our Humanities program.
The curriculum at Petra is grounded, time-tested, and superbly taught; the same cannot be said of the College Board’s AP courses, which is why we do not offer them at Petra Academy.
Over this past Easter weekend, I began reading The Iliad by Homer. Perhaps you once read it (or parts of it) in college, or perhaps due to an unfortunate Hollywood remake, the characters are familiar enough, but you’d never volunteer to retell the story without help from a Petra 10th grader (who, by the way, has read and studied the whole thing, as well its sequel, The Odyssey).
When or if you’ve read a little or a lot of Homer’s war ballad is not germane to my discussion here, for while this forum purports to be a home to scholars, one does not need to be one to make this observation: the pantheon of gods of Homer is very different from the Trinity of the Bible. On the heels of Easter (and in anticipation of our school’s upcoming Resurrection Feast celebrating it this Friday), let me just put it this way: Zeus is no match for Jesus.
[In The Iliad] sometimes the gods serve as “comic relief” (as in the laughs at the expense of the disabled god: Hephaestus) or as characters in the action (Aphrodite, goddess of beauty fights!). Other times Zeus, the chief god, is associated with a divine will greater (it seems) than the actions of the character named Zeus in the story…The “gods” of The Iliad are not the same kind of being as the “god” of the New Testament…they are not essentially different than humanity, though they have qualities we do not. They are more like super heroes, than “gods.”
The God of the New Testament is omnipotent, omniscient, and is essential “other than” His creation. We can debate whether such a being can exist (and philosophers of religion do), but if He does exist, then He is not just Zeus on steroids. Zeus (as pictured in most of The Iliad) is like humanity in having a beginning, a potential “end” (at least as chief of the gods), and is comprehensible. We might fear Zeus, but He is not worthy of worship.
Literary value aside, reading and studying The Iliad helps us recognize that we do the same thing Homer does: we tend to anthropomorphize God/the gods and talk about him/them as if human, which is the absolute last thing any of us really (truly) wants. Rather than meet the Jesus of the Bible on his mysterious terms, we reduce him to our less mysterious ones, making him little more than a DC Comics character with motivating superpower (love), fundamental flaw (preoccupation with holiness), and sense of obligation to humanity (saving it from itself).
But because God does mighty deeds, more than just worship him, we believe we can know him. As the depth of one’s character is displayed by his or her actions consistently over time, so it is with God. Scripture is divine revelation, for every page communicates what our God is like, not just because it contains propositional statements summarizing his personality, but because it also tells the story of his mighty redemptive acts woven throughout the tapestry of kingdom history.
We see throughout Israel’s history that the mighty acts of God are important to their understanding of him, as well as essential to them in knowing him. The prologue to the Decalogue brings this point out clearly. Exodus 20:1-3 says, “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’” It is precisely because God has acted in history, and performed mighty deeds in doing so, that God’s people obey the first commandment and know God.
We know God not just by what he says about himself, but also by what he has done; we see his sovereignty in his act of creation, his carrying out of his redemptive plan in Jesus’ commanding nature and biology to obey him; we see his graciousness and patience in never abandoning his people, despite our hearts that are so prone to wander; we see his faithfulness through his keeping of his covenant promises over thousands of years; we see his love in his blessing his covenant people and his mercy in bearing our wrath and shame on the cross. God’s mighty deeds make a transcendent God immanently present to his creatures, for without them he would be unknowable.
Easter reminds us that Jesus is more than a super man, more than a super hero; he is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the One who was, who is, and is to come (Revelation 1:8). He is not a Zeus-like deity of temper tantrums and malicious machinations carried out at our expense; he is the Source of no greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (Luke 15:13), and he calls and empowers us to do the same in his name.
A celebration of this Jesus – of this non-Superman, non-Zeus Jesus – is Whom our K4-12th graders will celebrate at our Resurrection Feast on Friday. I’m grateful to get to do so with them.
(Friday’s Resurrection Feast will be our third and final feast of the school year. All the food has been donated, but we still need 30 parents to pick it up, prepare, and serve it on Friday. Parents, please contact Beth Stohlmann today and let her know how you can help.)
A good friend (who also leads a classical Christian school) once vented his frustration that everything his school offered was nothing families wanted. Time-tested method and content? Okay (as long as it’s fun). Christ-centered curriculum? Nice, but not crucial (we go to church once a month). Academic rigor? Sounds good (as long as it doesn’t negatively impact our evenings or weekends). It can be frustrating for a classical Christian educator.
In Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, Robert Littlejohn and Charles Evans write:
Our experience has taught us that the real issue in admissions is not whether families personally confess what a Christian liberal arts school confesses, but whether they understand and want the benefits of this education for their children. This is the heart of the idea of ‘like-mindedness’ in a school and is among the things that distinguish schools from families and churches.”
Here are three reasons why I believe families want what we offer at Petra Academy:
First, our classical Christian education emphasizes a great canon of literature and history – time-tested original source material that goes well beyond the scope and sequence of the vast majority of grammar, elementary, and secondary schools (private or public). Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College, is an advocate for classical Christian education and laments the lack of classical canon in schools today:
My college freshmen are nice kids, born with considerable brains (we now accept only ten percent of our applicants). Unless they have studied Latin, they know no grammar. They cannot write. Only one or two of them will have studied British literature at all, or American literature before 1900. They have never heard the names of Milton, Tennyson, Browning, Keats, Pope, and so on. They have never heard of Yeats or T. S. Eliot, either. It’s a coin toss whether those from New England have read any poetry by Robert Frost. If they have, it’s one poem or two at most, and that’s it. They know no geography. They know nothing of world history. They cannot explain ordinary features of the natural world, such as why the sun appears to us in the USA in the southern part of the sky. They have been coached to accept various political or social positions, but those do not make them kinder and sweeter people. And it’s down the staircase from there.”
Esolen’s observations are shared by many instructors I know in so-called “higher education,” as well as documented in various YouTube clips filmed on college campuses (Texas Tech, George Mason) in which the most disturbing aspect of these students’ obliviousness is that their ignorance seems so funny.
Second, and in full agreement with 19th century educator Endicott Peabody, we teach with the goal of students being “able to take up successfully any subject owing to [their] early training.” We do this by teaching them via the Trivium to “observe with humility, reason with logic, and articulate with charity,” as our mission states. Take the following student paragraph on the problem of evil from a recent assignment given by Gregg Valeriano, Humanities/Logic teacher at Petra and an adjunct Philosophy professor at Montana State University:
A logically possible world is any logically consistent state of affairs. It is possible to have a both logically possible and physically possible world, as well as a physically impossible but logically possible world…both are logically conceivable, though not always physically possible. All logically possible worlds contain necessarily true things, which are elements which all logically possible worlds must contain. All logically possible worlds do not contain necessarily false things, elements which are contradictory and must not exist in any logically possible world. The problem of evil places the existence of both God and evil in a necessarily false world, claiming that since the existence of evil and God are contradictory, there is no logically possible world which can contain both of them. Since evil does exist in the world, the logical problem of evil states that therefore a God with such great making properties must therefore not exist out of logical necessity.”
The author of the paragraph is a 9th grader – a 9th grader! – at Petra and, according to Mr. V., “No freshman in the history of freshmen has written anything this good.” But such power of reasoning does not happen overnight; it takes years of teaching students to learn, work with, and write words that conjure, capture, and communicate meaning.
Third (and ever as important as the first two), we strive to create a student culture that supports (rather than sabotages) a collective love of learning. Once more from Littlejohn and Evans:
“From the moment a student is enrolled in the school until he departs, the ethos of the community of faith and learning colors the entirety of his experience as a student. From classroom to locker room, from chapel to recess – every circumstance has an enculturating effect on our students. Every personal sensory and relational encounter leaves a lasting impression. Some are major, others minor, but they all define our students’ experiences, and each will contribute something to the result that our students will call their education.”
Through our dynamic faculty and staff, expanding electives and co-curricular activities, and the contagious enthusiasm for all things done with excellence, we “strive to awaken love and wonder in our students…for the flourishing of humanity and the renown of Jesus the Christ.” It really is a beautiful vision to watch unfold.
Which brings me back to the original question: As a parent, do you understand and want the benefits of classical Christian education for your children? If you consider the canon, training, and culture at Petra and are serious about content and curriculum, rigor and reason, wonder and worldview, there really is no better choice in the Gallatin Valley.
We hope to see you at Petra Academy in 2016-17.
Can truth ever lead us to despair? In the second volume of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, we encounter two critical characters: the king of Rohan, Théoden, and Gríma Wormtongue, his adviser. Rohan is a small but important kingdom opposed to the Dark Lord Sauron, yet relatively insignificant (or so it seems) in its ability to actually pose a viable threat to Sauron’s looming power as he attempts to enslave all of Middle Earth.
When we first meet Théoden, four of the book’s heroes (Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli) have arrived at his hall to appeal to the king for help. Here we discover that the king is an old man; we know already of the peril facing all of free Middle Earth as Sauron’s defeat rests on a small hope, a “fool’s hope,” as the good wizard Gandalf later puts it. Yet despite Rohan’s resistance against Sauron, Théoden’s reaction to the warriors and wizard is unexpectedly sour. Readers soon learn the reason: his adviser, Gríma Wormtongue, has poisoned the king’s mind against hope, wisdom, valor, and goodness. Tolkien uses Theoden’s despair to offer a profound lesson about the nature of truth.
Tolkien wants us to see that Wormtongue’s poison has come not in the guise of lies, as we might expect, but rather in the form of truth. Is it true that Théoden is old? Yes. Is it true that little hope of victory remains in the battle against Sauron? Yes. Is it true that Rohan is beset by growing darkness on all sides? Yes. And Wormtongue fills Théoden’s mind with these truths.
But, importantly, that is not all of the truth. Instead it is a one-sided truth, a truth shorn of goodness and of hope. And this is what Tolkien wants us to recognize: that truth can at times be bitter, but it does not stop short of sweetness.
Truth edifies, it builds up—it does not tear down or destroy. It might wound, but it offers healing as well. Yet in Gríma Wormtongue’s mouth, truth can only debilitate, crush, demolish. This deceptive handling of truth ultimately results in Théoden’s withdrawal from his kingly position and duties, his retreat from evil, and even his own inner lethargy. Though Tolkien does not use the term, Théoden in this episode illustrates depression. And importantly, it is truth—in some form—that has led him there.
However, Tolkien does not abandon the king, nor readers, in this predicament. Truth is not allowed to suffer forever in the hands of evil intent. Gandalf enters Théoden’s hall, and representing Light and Wisdom, awakens Théoden from his depressed withdrawal. And significantly he uses truth to do so—but this time it is truth in its full form, truth as it is meant to be: pointing forward to hope, goodness, and beauty. Gandalf is honest as he encourages Théoden, but that honesty opens the way to hope: “The enemy is strong beyond our reckoning, yet we have a hope at which he has not guessed.”
Readers are not told all that Gandalf relates to Théoden in their private conversation, but we do see the change that comes over Théoden: “but ever as he spoke the light shone brighter in Théoden’s eye, and at the last he rose from his seat to his full height.” Truth in Gandalf’s mouth has the power to give life, not take it; to recall to strength, not wither it. In this episode, Tolkien teaches us that truth will not lead us to despair—but, truth shorn of hope, an impostor truth, can lead us there.
What does this mean for us? There is a spiritual truth here, for God also uses truth to give life rather than abandon us to partial, crushing truths. Is it true that our hearts are wicked? Yes. Is it true that every day we fail, we envy, we lie, we fall to pride? Yes. And yet that is not all that is true, for thankfully it is also true that though are hearts are wicked, God promises to change them; though we sin against our neighbor and our God, He promises grace upon grace.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians captures this double-edged truth: we were dead in our sins, enslaved to wrath and sinful desires, but God made us alive in Christ—not because we cleaned our hearts first or swept our sins away, but because of his rich mercy and great love. God’s truth certainly contains bitterness, for who loves being told he is a rebel deserving of death? Yet God’s truth does not stop there, but instead adds the sweetness of love and redemption. The Truth points us to goodness and beauty.
So why the Sour Patch Kids? We can thank my 8th grade humanities class for this analogy. If you have ever enjoyed a Sour Patch kid, you know that it is both sour and sweet. And in that, this candy captures the essence of truth: it might cut to our very hearts (sour), but it will restore to life as well (sweet). Truth shorn of goodness and hope will lead us to despair, but real Truth will lead us to life and joy.
A History of Tom Jones, a Foundling is Henry Fielding’s classic novel from 1748 chronicling the misadventures of the title character as he doggedly pursues the affections of his true love, Sophia, despite differing social classes, the machinations of her father to keep them apart, and the interference of other women who take a liking to Tom’s good looks and gallant charm.
The novel itself is long and has a multitude of colorful characters who are all a part of Tom’s story. Additionally, there are quite a few situations, character motivations, and actions that make the story rather ribald and a touch indecent for both the readers of Fielding’s day and ours. Why would a classical Christian school like Petra perform such an off-color story, and how in the world could it be “family-friendly”?
As a director, I am always trying to think of new ways to challenge my students’ abilities and give them new experiences onstage that they will remember for a lifetime. As a student of theatre myself, I am always looking to learn new skills and become more versatile as an actor and as a director. Thus, I had my sights set on this particular adaptation of this classic novel. It was only after I began researching the original story, that I learned of some of its content.
Indeed, Tom Jones is a bawdy book, but our adaptation is not a bawdy script. Rather, it remains true to the charm of the source material by retaining many of the memorable characters, but omits the bawdier content that would make it unsuitable for a younger audience. At its base is a story about a young man who is more often the victim of his circumstances than the master. Everything seems to go wrong for him at the most inopportune times and in the most incomprehensible ways, but he tries valiantly to press forward and see the light at the end of the tunnel when the opportunity arises. Redemptively, he is rewarded for it.
I always seek stories that offer some sort of redemption for the characters. Our adaptation features a large cast of developed characters, providing an excellent story to tell by both our veteran performers as well as our younger students newly introduced to the stage. The story is fast-paced and cohesive, focusing on the love that Tom and Sophia share and the various obstacles that are placed in their path, and there is even a climactic sword fight toward the end, which is always fun.
Here at Petra, we desire for our students to be immersed in literature that has withstood the test of time, and we challenge them to look beyond the words on the page to see the philosophy, worldview, and author’s intent behind what they read. Stories that last beyond the particular time period in which they were written are often well-told stories about the foibles and frailties of being human, something to which we can all relate. As a director, my goal is to help my students take the same lessons that they learn in Humanities and apply them to and through a script to find the essential human-ness in the characters they portray and to teach them to see characters as real people rather than just names with lines attached.
We recognize that parents entrust their children (young and older) to us “in loco parentis” – that is, “in the place of parents” (but not “in place of parents”). With this in mind (and in all we do), we tremble at and strive to be faithful to this responsibility. Our desire is not to put a story on our stage that would cause anyone to stumble, nor give them reason to question the morals and integrity of our staff and students; rather, our hope is that our students learn to look beyond the words on the page and see a story about a human being who is flawed, broken, and in need of redemption from his sinful attitudes and actions. We want students to look within themselves and see their need for the Savior, as well as look past themselves to see a world of broken, hurting people who need the person and work of Christ.
As a drama director, the tools that I have at my disposal to accomplish this goal are stories about flawed human beings and a stage on which to portray those stories in an engaging and educational way. I chose Tom Jones as a way to help our students grow, change, and mature as young people, and I hope that as you (and your family) come and enjoy one of our performances, you will find your own heart and mind touched because of it.
Buy your tickets to see Tom Jones! Performances are:
Thursday, February 25, 7 p.m.
Friday, February 26, 7 p.m.
Saturday, February 27, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $20 for reserved seating and are available online or at the front desk. Building doors open an hour before each show, with Performance Hall doors opening a half-hour before.
Come early and bid on items in our silent auction!
“I so do not want your job.”
Over the past several weeks, I’ve heard this sentiment from several parents who have followed my posts summarizing our recent survey about what parents love and what parents don’t about Petra Academy. For those concerned for my well-being, let me say thank you, but let me also add that the job’s really not so bad! That’s because it’s not about me, but about our mission and our efforts to accomplish it that matters.
In this, my third (and final) post concerning the survey, I’d like to respond to some of the affirmations given, as well as to many of the critiques offered. I want to do this by letting our mission statement guide my responses, as it represents what our board, administrative leadership, and faculty have affirmed as the “how” to fulfill the “why” of our vision “to prepare students for godly, purposeful lives.” For review:
Recognizing our need for God’s grace, Petra Academy strives to awaken love and wonder in our students, teaching them to observe with humility, reason with logic, and articulate with charity for the flourishing of humanity and the renown of Jesus the Christ.
Recognizing our need for God’s grace…
We are not a perfect school, and I am far from being a perfect Headmaster. In reading your comments, it’s clear that we’ve missed some things on more than one occasion; “sometimes confusing” communication from the school, as well as interaction that has seemed less than “warm” were two of the critiques shared. While parents affirmed many of the improvements we have made with our weekly digital communications, we can always do better, which is why we’re bringing back Second Cup in hopes of being as personal as possible.
As Headmaster, I recognize that, in my enthusiasm to grow the school, I at times create more angst than intended by introducing new or different initiatives. This is more of a “read-between-the-lines” observation (no one came right out and said it), but I know that the jury is (justifiably) still out in some parents’ minds as to the “new guy,” as voiced in reminders like “please maintain and continue to improve Petra’s high academic standards” (as if those were up for debate). Indeed, my strengths of intuition and decisiveness could become weaknesses for us, which is why I’m grateful for the oversight of our Board of Directors and the teams I’ve built around me administratively and educationally to keep me from going off the rails.
With daily interactions among 198 students from 125 families, our 30 faculty and staff have undoubtedly blown it at times; we can be too impatient, too demanding, and too defensive when confronted with our own sin. We pray together about these challenges on a weekly basis, and ask for your grace, forgiveness, and loving engagement when we fail you or your student(s), for as Proverbs reminds us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
…Petra Academy strives to awaken love and wonder in our students…
Despite our failings as faculty, my observation (both as Headmaster, as well as a parent of four children at the school) aligns with much of your shared feedback that our teachers are amazing people who shape our kids in amazing ways. This, I believe, is due not only to the character of our staff and their hearts for your children (to which many of you spoke), but also the competence in how they implement and inhabit our scope and sequence. Our teachers do not just handle our curriculum; they are our curriculum, and I was glad to see so many comments from parents recognizing this inspiring aspect of our school.
…teaching them to observe with humility, reason with logic, and articulate with charity…
As a classical school (and as verbalized in this particular statement of our mission), the Trivium is the time-tested methodology we use to organize and implement our education of children. In talking with parents (new and current) about their educational goals for their children, I have found that the degree to which parents understand and embrace the Trivium as a complete and satisfactory philosophy of education is the indicator of how well they (and their student(s)) will fare at our school.
In light of our commitment to the Trivium, we will not be a school that chases the winds of “student-” or “learner-centered” education, nor of “21st century” classrooms in which teachers cannot teach without technology. Certainly, we are glad to engage God’s natural world of the great outdoors (and what an outdoors we have here in Bozeman!), and it is good for students to learn the grammar, logic, and rhetoric of technology as a subject matter, but neither is a sufficient enough end in itself to lose the forest for the trees.
Likewise, providing “honors” classes or making room for outside AP courses is not going to be high on our list of educational objectives. Academic Advisor Beth Stohlmann is working on a series of Scholar’s Forum articles that will more specifically address these topics (as well as our SAT/ACT testing recommendations), but suffice it to say that the majority of our classes are already “honors” (a very arbitrary term within education), and outside AP courses are more of a regression to grammar-level (as opposed to rhetoric-level) learning. Finally, we want to be careful diving into fast-moving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) streams without our oars of humanities training to navigate such waters.
We are not going to stop giving homework. While we continue to monitor homework loads and put into place systems to improve our coordination of assignments among teachers, the fact is that we are a school that takes academic scholarship seriously, both in its excellence and in its expectations. After reading through the survey results, I took an informal poll of the Great Hall (study hall) that I oversee on Tuesdays, made up of approximately 40 7th-12th grade students, and asked students to estimate how many minutes (minus the distractions of texting, music listening, television watching, Internet surfing, etc.) they spent doing homework each evening. The average was 92 minutes, which is very much within our accepted and reasonable range.
We’re also not going to schedule or pay for “dress-down” days for our student body. I recognize this is counter-cultural to much of our Bozeman informality, but as a classical and Christian school calling students to excellence in all that we do, counter-cultural is what we should be. As Douglas Wilson, in his book The Case for Classical and Christian Education writes, “Of course, we should dress for comfort, but the biblical view is that we should also dress for the comfort of others. Today our natural tendency is to dress to suit ourselves. In another era, students would dress to make themselves presentable. Now students want to dress to make themselves at ease. The former generations thought of others; we now insist on putting ourselves first.” Philippians 2:4 encourages the believer to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Our dress is just one area through which we can teach and practice the virtue of selflessness with our kids on a weekly basis.
Following in the footsteps of Plato (among others), we believe that forms and structures are important, and while we keep our ear to the ground of the more modern forms and philosophies of education, its theories, and its research, we do so always in deference to the millennia of what classical and Christian education has taught us over the centuries: that God is the Great Teacher who is always teaching; that education of students has as much to do with forming their character as informing their minds; and that teaching students how to learn humbly, logically, and charitably is the best way to ensure that they continue to learn what they will need to know to live and love well.
…for the flourishing of humanity and the renown of Jesus the Christ.
Culture is an expression of community, and the culture of our community matters. I was heartened by many of your comments about how much you love our community and its culture, but I was also saddened by words from several parents who said they wanted to encounter more of it but couldn’t figure out how. We want to do better, which is why we’re at work to make your school interactions more significant for you and your family’s flourishing.
One of the things we’ve identified is that, beginning next year, we want to focus our requests for volunteer help on the most meaningful experiences parents have with us – volunteering in the classroom and as part of our musical, theatrical, and athletic endeavors. We’re a big enough school now that we should be able to figure out how to warm up meals at lunch and cover recess – things that happen in the middle of the day and are an impossibility for most parents and a hassle for others – without asking you to do that. Of course, we’re never going to turn away volunteers who enjoy those activities (and we still need you to finish up this year with us if you’re serving in these capacities now), but we want to facilitate volunteer experiences that build rather than burden our community as much as possible.
Because we are made up of 36 different churches (as well as several families who do not claim faith at all), we want to continue to be a trans-denominational school that welcomes (rather than forbids) denominational differences, as well as respects (rather than chastises) skeptics. As we have been and are clear with every family interested in or involved at Petra, we are a predominantly Protestant Christian school; this, however, doesn’t mean we have to be mad about it! While required as part of our accreditation with the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, ours is a Protestantism that is Augustinian in nature – a joyful and welcoming ecumenism that is friendly to those who do not espouse the Protestant particulars of our Christian faith, and loving of those who do not espouse the Christian faith at all.
As we look to next year, we think we’ve figured out a way to accommodate our Orthodox brethren’s slightly-different church calendar by moving Recitation Days to the first Friday of every month rather than the last (this also addresses several concerns from parents that weeks like the last one before Christmas were too busy, so it’s a win-win). And, while we’re still going to celebrate our Reformation/All Saint’s Day feast to honor both our Protestant and Catholic traditions, we want to continue to give families charitable freedom to abstain from attendance as we did this year. The Church’s history is messy and difficult, yes, but as I communicated in my message at the feast this fall, Christ’s call to unity can and should foster unity among us, as our trans-denominational identity may be our school’s greatest witness to the renown of Jesus the Christ.
Other “flourishing” feedback we’re thinking through:
After-school programs – we know it’s a need and that it could provide a meaningful service to several of our families, but we don’t want to just provide childcare for two hours each day; we want to see kids flourish (rather than just be babysat) even after school, and that’s going to require some time, planning, and focus to figure out.
More athletic offerings – we’ve had the most growth in numbers ever in our five years of athletics at Petra, but the reality is that athletic growth corresponds with census growth; the best way to see more sports offered is to commit to be with us for the long-term, encourage your student(s) to participate, and help recruit new students to join and do the same.
Re-enrollment – some have communicated that they’re a little nervous about the May 15 deadline for full financial commitment, so as we’ve moved up the start of re-enrollment (details here), we’ve tried to at least simplify and make it cheaper – $100 instead of $400 per student – to lock in a spot for next year; we’ve also tried to give as long a window of final evaluation (until May 15) as we can, but the reality is that, in order to make commitments to our teachers, we need parent commitments to our school by then.
Finally (and this is a big nut to crack), we want to begin working toward providing more help for parents who have students with some degree of special needs. I hesitate sharing this, not because I don’t want to be held to it, but because having taught four years at a school in St. Louis with a fully-developed special needs learning center, I know how much time, money, and effort it takes to build, staff, and maintain. This is an initiative that will take years to develop, and while I don’t know now what exactly it might look like when it’s complete, I do want us to begin taking steps to figure it out. Please pray for us and for those families with children struggling academically at Petra, that we may do all we can to help them as they seek to help their children learn and grow.
There you have it: my best attempt (on behalf of our Board, leadership, and faculty/staff) to respond to the feedback from you, our parents. Again, my goal in writing has been to provide as much background and thought so that, as you consider next year and possibly beyond for your student(s), you’ll have what you need to make an informed decision for your family as to whether Petra is your best fit. We hope it will be!
To serve as another means to that end, please consider joining us this coming Wednesday, February 17, anytime between 8:30-10:30 a.m. in the cafeteria for our Second Cup. Mr. Christofferson and I hope to meet with as many parents who want more answers on these or any other questions you may still have. Stay late after drop-off or come early before the 5th-7th grade Spelling Bee at 10:30.
Thanks for reading, and of course, you’re always welcome to send me your thoughts.
In my previous post, I introduced the findings of our recent parent survey and summarized the answers to the first three questions. In transitioning to the last two questions of the survey, I’ll mention that many of the suggestions shared below are either ones that coincide with our already-known list of desired improvements, or are examples of the variety of opinion within the Petra community concerning them.
I have grouped the points and quotations along similar themes for the purpose of consideration.
Several parents mentioned their desire for an after-school program of some sort, to “open up doors for parents who work full-time to have their children attend the school,” by providing “enrichment activities for kids to attend at Petra.”
One parent asked for more athletics offerings, mentioning specifically, “soccer, track, and baseball,” while another suggested “cross-country, track and field, and wrestling.” This second parent also suggested that Petra “build a swim/indoor track center.”
One parent mentioned that, “sometimes communication on certain things is confusing,” citing as an example the feasts and the parents’ role in them (“some parents thought they could join their children for feasts”). However, this parent was “happy to see that the dress code was clarified this year to include more details on PreK,” specifically that it is okay for them not to wear belts, and that velcro gym shoes are OK.
One parent urged us to “remind teachers that NOT all parents have computer access and to please follow up beyond STI.” This parent also mentioned that “a little flexibility in communication/schedule outside of 8am to 5pm (though not late like 10pm) would help.”
Another parent encouraged us to, “Always improve communication (and you have been), and be as flexible as you can be with parents.”
One parent made this plea: “Please maintain and continue to improve Petra’s high academic standards.” However, different parents had different perspectives how to do this.
One parent called for “enlarging the library and book collection and place more emphasis on integrating the library into the curriculum in all subjects, as too much is being lost, the original great works are being forgotten and replaced by diluted or adulterated online/contemporary hogwash masquerading as literature.” This parent also suggested “minimizing/eliminating computer-based learning whenever possible.”
Coming from the opposite perspective, one parent wrote, “The classic curriculum was developed over 125 years ago. Back then children did not start school until age seven or eight. We now have pushed early academics for the last 15 years with less then ideal results. I would like to see the administration be more academic regarding the current research and adjust accordingly. I would only recommend Petra to a few of our friends, not all. Many modern parents are looking for a school that embraces not only the spiritual and Christian aspects of the Classic curriculum, but embracing the importance of understanding the outdoor environment and spending time learning in nature. God made this amazing earth and we believe learning should incorporate a reverence and understanding of the natural world as well as the spiritual realm.”
Still another parent asked for “more gifted/accelerated programs especially in math, science and literature” and an “increased Science Technology Engineering and Math subjects both in class or after school, teaching keyboard in an earlier grade.” A second parent mentioned that, “I love that they are now using online resources (e.g., Chalkable). I would like to see more things online like sign ups for field trips, school parties, etc.”
Several parents asked for more musical offerings for students to strengthen the music program. “It would be nice to be able to continue with the violin or have an option for students to continue with the violin after 3rd grade. The 3rd grade has been studying for 3 years it would be a shame to see it stop.”
Finally, one parent mentioned that “It would be great to see some AP courses offered through the school if possible, rather than having the students have to carve time out of their very full schedule to try to do some on their own.” This parent also wanted to put in a elective plug, saying, “Shop class for an elective would be great!”
Help for Students
Several parents asked that we “provide extra help for students with special needs or in developing necessary skills (speech therapy, special education on reading and math, and/or tutoring).” Elaborating on this point, one set of parents wrote, “We feel that there has been a set curriculum with a set of expected standards and when a child is unable to maintain this standard on their own, the responsibility falls to the parents to provide the extra help themselves or to fund it completely on their own…Please understand this is our viewpoint and we appreciate the Board asking for suggestions. We hope you have found our suggestions helpful and we would be happy to discuss our experience at Petra further.”
While one parent appreciated our “minimal amount of fundraisers,” another was critical of “soliciting money and support as a student body to fund tuition that 60% of parents are unable or unwilling to provide,” citing it as a “poor management of resources. The money raised by a student body needs to benefit every student body; not just those who receive a scholarship.”
Comments pertaining to school security were not prevalent, but there were a few. One parent voiced a desire to install “keypads, a security guard, etc.”
I wanted to mention these three different perspectives concerning this area of our school:
“We really enjoy the feasts, however the Reformation Day/All Saints Day Feast should be rethought, as celebrating Reformation Day for your Catholic and/or Orthodox students is difficult.”
“I would love to have the administration consider other Christian churches when developing the calendar. I know that the Orthodox Church is the only Church that does not celebrate Easter/Pascha at the same time and it would be nice if we could attend Grandparent’s Day, but this year it falls on our Great and Holy Friday.”
“We continue to regularly have discussions at home about doctrinal differences that surface in upper school class discussions (which is a great opportunity, but can cause frustration)…This year it seems to be primarily with classmates. I am wondering if some more direction can be given to the students about how to discuss issues that they differ on (usually secondary doctrines) or if more intentional focus can be directed toward primary doctrines.”
Concerning our homework load, one parent with students in both elementary and secondary noted that, “Homework load can be difficult to manage at times, often magnified by the number of children we have working on the various tasks assigned. It is difficult to assess if they are just being inefficient and distracted with their time or if the combined assignments are more than they can manage well after a full day of school. Fatigue and distraction is often a clear contributing factor to inefficiency.”
A different elementary parent mentioned that, “We have heard that the homework load increases and is quite substantial. We are not there yet, but do feel that it is a concern as we move along.” A parent with a secondary student mentioned that, “The homework load seems to be either somewhat light some days and then super heavy others, specifically in the Humanities.” Finally, one parent stated that, “We would like better (more thorough) explanations about the homework policies.”
Several parents expressed a desire to encounter more of the Petra parent community: “The school has a wonderful community and our son is certainly fitting into it, but the larger parent community is one I’d like to be closer to somehow.” One parent confessed that “It has been difficult getting to know other parents of children in the same grades as our kids.,” and another one said, “I would like to see a more streamlined process for communicating with the teachers/school about volunteer needs in the classroom. It is easy to find out about lunch/recess volunteer needs, but not ways we can help in the classrooms.”
Concerning December (which is always a busy month), one parent suggested that, “It might possibly be better schedule-wise if the Christmas Feast occurs in the 2nd to last week before Christmas break. That last week is already so full of activity, donating time and food, etc., that the donations and requests for the feast feel a bit overwhelming at that time frame.”
With regard to the parent and teacher relationships, one parent shared that she “would appreciate occasional times throughout the year (maybe once in the fall and once in the spring) to get to know the parents and teachers. The back to school night in the fall is too busy to actually get to know or talk to the teachers and Moms-in-Prayer happens while many parents are at work during the day. I wouldn’t want to add anything else to the teachers’ already full plates, but I would like to get to know them better and don’t feel like there is any convenient time to do that.” And another parent: “I think Parent Teacher Conferences should be mandatory in the spring and not just optional, as it is so beneficial.”
One parent wrote that, “As Petra is asking us (parents) to help sell the Petra experience to the Bozeman community, it would be a great help if some of the administration could help out and provide a warmer welcome to visiting parents and students. Please don’t misunderstand that our staff is not warm; I just mean that they can be very academic at times. Petra is a choice and we need to let parents and students know why they should make the choice to chose Petra over anything else.”
“We’re a little nervous about the May 15 deadline for full financial commitment in the enrollment process. (We want to re-enroll both of our children; however, we are still thinking through the best path for one of them and praying we come to a thoughtful decision by that time.)”
Other General Suggestions
– 3-4 different parents communicated a desire for a multiple siblings discount
– the sound at recitations (“could be a bit better but that’s not too big of a deal”)
– a car pool or bus to Belgrade
– more freedom in seating at lunch
– a store of uniform clothing that could be restocked from during the year
– consideration of a lunch program some day (even if it started small or was only one day a week)
– continued ways to promote occasional interaction between the upper classmen and grade schoolers (“I liked hearing how they mingled at the last feast and think it would be valuable to encourage the role model connection”)
– more focus on planner usage; i.e. writing down what the assignment is, perhaps even the topic and not just “Study” or “page 123”
– more field trips and downhill skiing
– service projects and recitations performed at nursing homes
– board meeting times (“we would like to come, but the 3:45 time just does not work for our job scheduling”)
At our board meeting on Tuesday (as well as in my post next week), I’ll begin to address many of these topics and issues. Thank you for your honest feedback!
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve asked you, our Petra families, for feedback as to how you think we’re doing. If you’ve been at Petra for multiple years, you’ve seen a version of the survey questions before:
1. Based on your experience with Petra Academy during the current school year, how likely are you to recommend Petra to a friend or associate?
3. Please describe two or three things you like most about your experience at Petra this year.
4. Please describe two or three things you would like to see improved or enhanced at Petra.
5. What suggestions would you offer to teachers, administration, and board to improve the Petra community and experience for your family?
As we begin our second semester this week, I’d like to share some of your feedback, as well as write the first of a few posts in response to aspects of it. To be clear, my intent is not to define or defend anything, but to reassure you that we are reading what you have taken time to share and appreciate your participation in the conversation.
A couple of quick observations pertaining to the first two questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest likelihood of “always” being willing to recommend Petra to others), our average score from 28 responses was a solid 9. This is significant in two ways: first, positive word-of-mouth is the proven way that our school has grown by a steady 10% each year over the past five years, so it’s good to see that this trend might continue; second, while parents offered suggestions, you verbalized that you generally thought of such desired enhancements as small (rather than big) things that did not cause a general reluctance to promote the school.
Additionally, of the 28 responses, we had at least two responses from every Petra grade, so no grade was without a baseline representation in the survey (kudos to our pre-Polly grades – K4, Kindergarten, Afternoon Enrichment, and 1st – for their combined total of 15 responses, our largest).
In the rest of this post, I’ll focus on your answers to question #3 and the two or three things you said you liked most about your experience at Petra this year.
Several parents noted a genuine concern for “each student as an individual,” as well as the “kind and helpful” teachers and the “close communication between the teacher, parents, and students.” “Small class size” was mentioned several times, along with the fact that parents were glad that “our children are not just another name or grade.”
Multiple parents expressed their appreciation for “the details of the school regularly outlined in The Griffin Gazette,” as well as “the increased activity on social media (Facebook, Twitter) and website.” One parent also communicated her appreciation for “the intimate classroom environment and newsletters via email,” while another mentioned that he “enjoyed receiving and reading the magazine about classical schools – a wonderful surprise.”
We were glad to hear one parent’s appreciation for “the Trivium pedagogy of grammar, logic, and rhetoric,” and another’s praise for our “demanding but do-able curriculum.” One parent mentioned our “strong curriculum and the results of the whole class progressing together,” while one Afternoon Enrichment parent stated that she was simply encouraged with her student’s “progress in writing cursive.”
One parent spoke for several when she spoke of the “loving, appropriate and effective discipline for our kids when needed.” Another parent mentioned that she was glad for a school where “everyday I can drop off my son where he is challenged, but also safe, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Several parents communicated the sentiment that “the Feasts are a wonderful addition,” as well as that their students have “really enjoyed the increased physical education opportunities and options for electives this year.” Another parent mentioned her appreciation for our “multi-grade events such as Great Assembly, ornament exchange, and recitations,” the last of which she shared was “our favorite day of the month.” Finally, a parent said that she “loved” that our athletic offerings are expanding, while another voiced that the “student choir is wonderful and definitely a thing to look forward to for our 3rd grader.”
Even the “uniform for younger students and the Rhetoric dress code for oldest students” made it on the list of positives!
Other comments we were especially excited to read:
“Our student is LEARNING, and we like the very cheerful presence that we feel at Petra these days.”
“The teachers are excellent and give so much to the kids every day. The facility is reasonably secure (compared to other schools) and professionally run by a staff of trustworthy and dedicated people.”
“We are so thankful for the obvious care and concern for our children from all of their teachers. They are each challenged and encouraged in ways that are unique to their personalities. A heartfelt thank you to the wonderful Petra teachers!”
“We love the Christ-centered curriculum, and our children are really blossoming under the instruction of their teachers, who are fantastic. We love the community at the school. It is also very nice to be greeted by both Mr. Dunham and/or Mr. C. The kids enjoy getting to interact and say, ‘Good morning.'”
Next week, I’ll respond to your ideas for what might be improved or enhanced for our Petra community. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t yet, please take the survey!
As the old saying goes, “As long as there are tests in school, there will be prayer in school.” Indeed, but at Petra, our prayers to God include more than just students’ prayers of desperation as they take finals this week.
Each and every morning, our teachers gather at 8 a.m. to pray for our students by name; on Monday and Thursday afternoons (respectively), our Education and Admin Teams meet, beginning each meeting with prayer for the tasks at hand; and our monthly Board meeting always includes a focused time of prayer for the school.
In addition, on Tuesday mornings, our Moms-in-Prayer group, led by Petra mom Syd Nettik, meets from 8:35-9:35 a.m. in the cafeteria to pray for the needs of our school, as collected in the prayer request jar at the front desk. I recently asked Syd for some observations from the group’s Prayer Tree initiative at the end of December, and this is what she shared.
Tell us more about the Prayer Tree.
“Moms in Prayer had the unique privilege of hearing the prayers of Petra children, faculty and staff, by reading aloud the beautiful prayer messages written on handmade ornaments. We held these prayers up to the Lord and asked for His blessings of good health and safe journeys. All of the prayers touched our hearts, especially the children who asked for more time with their family, health for parents or loved ones, and to get over the flu! The scripture verses showed the love children have in their hearts for His Word.”
How did you approach the prayer requests you received?
“When we divided up the ornaments and went around the circle – first reading the request then praying over it – it felt like the family gift opening tradition at our home, where gifts are opened one at a time and we go around the circle until all are opened and appreciated. So it was with the prayers. We opened the prayers one at a time and offered them each to God (kind of like a gift) to care for them as He sees fit.”
Did anything surprise you about the students’ prayer requests?
“The prayers of the young people were unselfish and genuine. They eagerly wanted to pray for someone whom they thought needed God’s help. Prayers were requested for friends, grandmothers, parents, and even pets.
The reality of life’s pain and disappointment were often evident as we read the prayer requests. One prayer that I read and prayed for was from a child who was asking God to help his or her dad not to have to work so much.”
What were some specific things for which students asked for prayer?
“Someone had written a request for ‘all the children in the world.’ I had to stop and compose myself after shedding some tears. This led into a time of thanksgiving for organizations like Compassion International and World Vision, both of whom are on the front lines helping children around the world.
Also, a young daughter with a compassionate and sensitive heart listed a prayer request to pray for her mother, who happened to be a part of Moms-in-Prayer. Her daughter’s prayers opened up a door for us to pray over this mom in some specific ways and minister to her that morning.”
Was there anything else special for you about the Prayer Tree initiative?
“Two ornaments from my pile were prayer requests for (former Headmaster) Mr. Hicks, as well as for you, Mr. Dunham. It was as if God had planned that each would be lifted up side-by-side in prayer.”
I’m thankful for Syd and the moms who gather each Tuesday morning. I’m thankful for teachers who purposely start each day with prayer. And I’m thankful for leadership teams and a Board of Directors who pray whenever the business of our school is discussed.
I’ve talked with enough parents to know very few of us feel we pray enough, even when we consider the challenges our kids face growing up in the world. Add to that already-present sense of failure the (good) words of those like E.M. Bounds, who wrote, “Prayer is the highest intelligence, the profoundest wisdom, the most vital, the most joyous, the most efficacious, the most powerful of all vocations,” and most of us wonder why the Lord even gave us kids in the first place, for surely we’re not worthy of them.
Yet I’m comforted to know that, while there are plenty who – like me – struggle to pray on their own, there are others who lift us up in our feeble attempts to lift up our children. This is as significant an answer to prayer as any, and I’m grateful to God for this provision at Petra.
(For more information about Petra Academy’s Moms-in-Prayer group, email Syd Nettik.)