By CRAIG HEFNER, PH.D.
Regardless of all that has actually happened this year, I think we will always remember this as the year that COVID-19 closed all of the school buildings. During this time, so much of the world slowed down, but the teachers and staff at Covenant School were busy at work. Covenant’s teachers faced these challenges head-on, learning entirely new systems and finding creative ways of being a teacher from a distance.
From an educational and curricular perspective, it was an odd way to end the year, especially for classical schools. Classical educators have always resisted fully online education because it sacrifices so much of what is important to us. It’s adequate for delivering content, but we give up all the opportunities for formation, discipleship, and community. All that said, our classical curriculum did help us navigate the transition to distance learning because it gave us a good instinct for what needed attention: the tools for learning that enable our students to become free and independent learners. We focused on what truly matters, and our education continued right through the pandemic.
I am extremely grateful to Covenant’s teachers and staff for their grit in the face of entirely new educational systems and for their wisdom at focusing on what matters. And I’m grateful to the families of Covenant School for their commitment to partner with us in carrying out this education at home.
Of course this year was not entirely defined by the pandemic. We are relieved to have secured sufficient building space for our school. In his providence, God has always provided for Covenant School, and this was no exception. The number of details that needed to align for this to be possible were staggering. And from the outset, it hardly looked possible. But God’s hand was on our school, and the details consistently came together. With 13 grades but only 12 classrooms, we were pressing against the limit of our capacity. Moving forward every Lower School classroom now has a window, and the Upper School has enough classrooms for each teacher. We are in the process of furnishing those classrooms with an atmosphere that matches the quality of our education. The pandemic slowed down our process, but we are continuing with improvements, even over the summer.
It was a delight this year to see our Lower School team put into practice a distinctly classical approach to assessment. In partnership with other classical schools around the country, our team of teachers worked to design a narrative grading system that provides more information to parents, is less reductive than modern numerical reports, and that would address the matters of the heart (A Case for Narrative Grading).
This year we also worked on articulating our profile of the graduate, which provides us a clear and shared goal for all that we do as a school, and it’s worth restating that profile here.
Covenant School faculty and staff seek to cultivate students with a love of learning, wisdom, and virtue who:
- Participate in a biblically faithful church
- Love and serve others in thought, word, and deed.
- Love to discover truth, pursuing knowledge as the foundation for a good and happy life.
- Affirm and order their lives according to a Gospel-centered moral order.
- Delight in beauty, having been exposed to great aesthetic masterpieces at a young age.
- Speak and write with clarity, eloquence, and persuasiveness.
- Think logically, deeply, and charitably.
- Learn from the great thinkers who came before them and integrate timeless ideas with present reality.
Our prayer is that we will continue to see students’ lives transformed in this way. With this profile as our goal, it’s clear why COVID-19 never stopped our education. We found new ways for our community to love and serve others, to discover truth, and to carry out the mission of Covenant School.
Thank you Covenant teachers, staff, and families for a great year.
Soli Deo Gloria,