Wisdom and Eloquence: Our “Hope-Filled” Goal

By Christina Walker

Society is constantly changing; in the midst of that constant change, we are confident that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, ESV). Rooted in his constancy, Christian educators are able to respond to the ever-changing needs around them and in their students’ lives so that they will also be able to impact society and the world for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom. St. Augustine and C. S. Lewis spoke of this kind of focus in terms of being heavenly minded in order to do great earthly good.

Reflecting this focus, Christian education has two “hope-filled” goals:

  • helping students grow in their faith, knowledge, and relationships
  • preparing them to promote this same kind of growth in their lives after graduation

In Wisdom and Eloquence, Robert Littlejohn and Charles Evans remind us that we (in the Christian tradition) receive wisdom in order to impart it, and the wisdom we pass on to the next generation is dependable—from an authority that we can trust because this authority is transcendent (p. 18). They refer us to St. Augustine of Hippo and his instructions for acquiring wisdom and becoming eloquent.

Augustine, writing in times very similar to ours (especially as Americans), offers reliable guidance for us because the methods he advocates have been tested and proven effective over many hundreds of years and, more importantly, because his driving belief is that “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright” (Proverbs 2:6–7). In his book On Christian Doctrine, he argues (as Littlejohn and Evans also maintain) that any learning, knowledge, or wisdom is for the sake of edifying (or loving) others and will lead to the benefit of neighbor, society, culture, and the world.

In Augustine’s writings, he asserts that the foundation for gaining wisdom is reading the Bible thoroughly and knowing what it says. Students at Geneva begin reading Bible stories in K4, and as students get older, teachers introduce them to larger portions of Scripture and go deeper into the themes that we discover in the Bible. Students memorize Bible verses and passages throughout each year from K4 through 6th grade.

  • K4, K, 1st: daily Bible lessons and devotions
  • 2nd: study of Genesis and Exodus (creation through the Exodus from Egypt)
  • 3rd: historical and poetical books of the Old Testament (from Joshua’s leadership before entering the Promised Land to the judges of Israel to the reign of David and then Solomon)
  • 4th: study of the prophets and the fall of Israel and Judah
  • 5th: study of the Gospels and the life of Christ
  • 6th: study of The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles
  • 7th: Old Testament survey
  • 8th: New Testament survey
  • 9th–12th: study of Christian thinkers, worldview, and the Bible in order to learn how to think according to the truths, traditions, and telos of the Christian faith, culminating in the class Bible in Perspective senior year

It is not only very important to everyone at Geneva that students study the Bible from K4 through senior year: it is a distinctive feature of the school.

After a thorough study of Scripture, Augustine encourages pursuing knowledge about “everything else”—studying broadly and learning about subjects that are “investigated and discovered”—building on the foundation of biblical studies. I love how Littlejohn and Evans claim that “the transcendent aim of such pursuits is to discover and to acknowledge the glory of God’s creative genius” and increase “ability to understand, function in, and positively affect the world around us” (p.19).

Never fear: Augustine does not leave us with a huge task and no direction.

As Littlejohn and Evans explain in Wisdom and Eloquence, classical education is an exceptional method for passing wisdom from one generation to another while developing eloquence because students receive “practical culture-shaping skills” through the core curriculum, and these skills equip them to learn about anything they might like to study in their present or future (p. 22). The integrated core curriculum is another distinctive feature of The Geneva School.

As we go through the book, we’ll discuss these characteristics of the Christian classical education that Geneva provides.

Certain commitments and beliefs go along with the pursuit and implementation of the liberal arts tradition:

  • Being a human being means being a person of faith (what one has faith in varies wildly these days).
  • To understand oneself, one must (seek to) understand the divinely ordered universe.
  • People are fallen creatures, but redemption is possible.
  • Truth, goodness, and beauty can be investigated and known because they are characteristics of God; pursuing these is not only valuable but achievable (even though we know our pursuit will not be perfect) (pp.25–26).

These things may seem like no-brainers to many in our community, but in today’s cultural climate, these are not things that we can take for granted. Teaching our children in this tradition cultivates in the next generation wisdom and eloquence so they can, indeed, be heavenly minded and do great earthly good. In future posts, we will explore and discuss what it means to “do great earthly good” and the many different ways Christians can embody this.

A Thousand Words

By Christina Walker

If a picture is worth a thousand words, it would take volumes to impart the stories, the adventures, and the virtues illustrated throughout the lower school building: beautiful murals adorn each classroom, illustrating themes from their studies or scenes from classic literature and transporting students and teachers alike to other worlds. Such lovely additions are more than mere decoration. These paintings enrich the lives of our young scholars, surrounding them with images that remind them of what is good, true, and beautiful in the world and in their lives.

God the creator made us in his image with the desire and capacity to create, and the talented artists who have used their gifts to enhance The Geneva School with such beautiful paintings reflect his goodness, ingenuity, and creativity. Art transforms—drawing us in and inspiring our own imaginations, fanning the flames of the longing that we all feel for that “true country” as C. S. Lewis calls it. These murals encourage everyone who encounters them to seek out Narnia in their everyday lives, looking for “a most extraordinary excursion into magical lands and enchanted happenings.” What a legacy to leave for future generations at Geneva.

We are grateful to TGS alumnae Maddie Noll (‘16), Anna Classe (‘17), Charlie Classe (‘18), Raquel Smith (‘19), Lilly Wilhite (‘19), Abigail Clark (‘20), Macy Noll (‘21), and Anna Mages (‘22), Catherine Payne (TGS receptionist and after school art teacher last year), and long-time Geneva art teacher Shelly Bradon for their magnificent work that opens up our eyes, minds, and hearts to beauty and hope.

The header image is a mural of a cave on a science room wall.

Pursuing Wisdom and Exercising Eloquence

By Christina Walker

When we think about the reasons we send our children to a Christian classical school like The Geneva School, we often think of how good it will be for our children: how the school environment, the curriculum and programming, faculty and staff, and other students will affect them. These things are important and certainly worthy of our consideration; we want our children to thrive and flourish. And students do thrive in a supportive, loving environment under the instruction and guidance of adults who care for their pupils as well as for the material they teach, and it does matter what kind of friends and peers our children have. Along with these meaningful aspects, a significant and key facet of the educational experience at The Geneva School—one we’d like to focus on and explore this year with our families—is the effect or impact that our students will have on the world and culture once they leave these walls: during their years here, Geneva students pursue wisdom and exercise eloquence so that they are able to be difference-makers in the world for the building up of Christ’s kingdom.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:2, ESV). Transformation takes place when we study Scripture and the world in which we live. These means of transformation (renewal) provide the wisdom and the tools to transform (renew) culture. In the book Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans demonstrate how a Christian classical education is not only an exceptional educational enterprise but also a highly effective way to equip and prepare young people for future roles that bring God’s goodness, truth, and beauty to peers, colleagues, and society.

During this school year, we are going to be sharing insights from Wisdom and Eloquence—informing and edifying our community, growing in our understanding of Christian classical education, and expanding on the mission of the school: to inspire students to love beauty, think deeply, and pursue Christ’s calling.

See You on the Other Side

By Christina Walker

Mr. Ryden, who is not only Geneva’s head of school but also a brilliant summer fun expert, wrote in The Courier recently and encouraged our community—older and younger members alike—to have a “joyful and relaxing summer break … filled with exercise, fresh air, play, reading, and sleep.” He reminisced about his younger days during the summer, which were full of sports with friends, board games, swimming, and reading.

Considering our devices consume so much of our time, setting them aside for more old-school entertainment can seem challenging. We as parents may fear, as Mr. Ryden said, hearing, “I’m bored!” from our children. However, he also correctly concluded that “on the other side of boredom is a whole world of creativity, exercise, and fun.” From making pillow forts to playing board games, hiking and kayaking to reading and hanging out with neighbors or friends, there are myriad activities that both parents and their children (no matter the ages) can enjoy this summer.

I have seen it myself; when kids are together without their screens, they come up with amazing ideas and their imaginations take over. From playing games as characters (that everyone guesses after the game is over) to writing stories, this summer has already been full of nonscreen fun for my own children.

Make time for getting outside, playing games, cuddling up with a good book, or baking something fun together over these remaining summer weeks. The memories you make will be worth it! And if you happen to hear someone say, “I’m bored,” wait it out and see what happens; encourage your children (even older ones) to seek out what is on the other side of that feeling of boredom. Who knows what paths they will discover and enjoy!

Summer fun for little or big kids:

  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Imagination games
  • Coloring books and other activity books (some coloring books are intricate and complex)
  • Mad libs
  • Puzzles
  • Cooking or baking with mom, dad, or siblings
  • Playing in the rain
  • Going to the park
  • Taking a walk
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding
  • Swimming with friends
  • Reading
  • Writing a story or poetry

Magic in Our Hands

By Christina Walker, Advancement Office

Do you ever think back on your favorite book from your childhood (or books … it may be impossible to narrow it down to just one)? Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer took me into another world from the first words on the first page, a magical, mysterious journey that I remember to this day. For many years, my book was lost: it had disappeared at my parents’ house sometime between when I was a young girl and when I got married and moved out. I tried finding it online and discovered much to my dismay that I could get a copy for $200 or $500 (depending on if I wanted hardback or paperback)! One day, over a decade later during one of my visits back home, my mom brought down a box she had uncovered in their attic for me to look through. As I sorted through the contents, laughing hysterically at some of the papers and notebooks that had transformed this old cardboard box into a treasure chest, I came upon a book. I screamed with joy and amazement and tears sprang to my eyes as I realized that my Magic Elizabeth was not gone forever after all!

Even though pages turn yellow and covers fall to pieces, the power of good stories does not fade with time.

I was able to share this magical story with my youngest daughter, along with many other books that I had loved as a child or that I had discovered as a parent who read to my children. Reading with Michaela (‘19), Christian (‘21), and Eliana (‘26) is now one of my treasured memories (every now and then, Eliana and I will read something together still). The time spent opening up our imaginations and making our way into and through someone else’s world was (and still is) a multifaceted gift.

My oldest, Michaela, wrote her senior thesis for Geneva about the importance of reading for Christians. The title of her paper, “Make America Read Again: The Christian Need for Literature in a Consumer Society,” reflects her astute observation (and honest self-reflection) about the world we live in, especially as Americans. She notes that reading well helps us “combat this society’s cultural attacks on our ability to know and glorify God.” From shaping minds to developing thought processes, from recognizing the ways that human beings reflect the image of God to becoming more virtuous, reading—and especially reading well—helps us to know ourselves and our Creator better and to bring glory to him as we learn from and embody virtues we encounter in the stories we read.

Remember those magical moments, exciting journeys, painful circumstances, and winding roads found within the pages you have turned. Sit with your little ones, and sit with your older children too! Enter into a wardrobe that leads to “the middle of a wood at night-time with … snowflakes falling through the air,” or warily welcome Mrs. Whatsit into your kitchen in the middle of the night during a hurricane. Watch happily from a log as “seven Trumpeters all in a line, five of them just out of the egg,” glide toward you and then “Beep” joyfully for you, except for a quiet one who does something no one would expect a baby swan to do. Or watch your mama, a teacher in your school—”one of the largest black schools in the county”—as she deliberately trims paper in order to cover the chart inside of the school book you are going to receive, “somebody’s old throwaways,” … knowing “She understood.”

Read to understand. Read to grow. And read because there are, as Michaela reminds us in her thesis, “books out there that you will enjoy.”

Books referenced or quoted:

Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Victory and Justice, Awareness and Action

On Thursday, March 3, 2022, two Geneva seniors—Anna Mages and Laura McKnight—were invited to speak on behalf of Geneva’s Biblical Justice Club at the Victory Cup Initiative, which is an annual event that provides ten nonprofit organizations in Central Florida with the opportunity to represent and promote the unique ways they are changing lives in our area, making a difference for individuals and communities who are underserved or in need of support. At the end of the nonprofits’ presentations, a top award is given to one of the organizations based on a vote from the attendees; however, each nonprofit leaves with an award regardless of their standing after the vote. Along with a financial benefit, each nonprofit has the opportunity to engage with community leaders and bring awareness to a diverse array of organizations.

Through a new partnership called the Victory Cup Youth Initiative, Anna and Laura were able to hear from the leaders of ten nonprofits about the work they are doing, and they also had the chance to share with this room full of local businessmen and businesswomen about the mission and goals of the Biblical Justice Club at Geneva. This reciprocal participation, sharing and learning about what is going on in our community and what is going on at The Geneva School, set up an important foundation for future partnerships and achievements. This experience expanded on the girls’ involvement with community service, broadening the scope from SALT day and fulfilling obligations for graduation to the everyday lives of folks who make it their daily work to meet the extraordinary needs of their (and our) neighbors.

After this special experience, the Biblical Justice Club was able to bring even more light to these nonprofits that operate in Central Florida. At an upper school assembly on March 30 as part of the Victory Cup Youth Initiative, ten of the members of the club represented the same nonprofits from the Victory Cup Initiative for the chance to reward an extra $2,500 from a private donor to the organization receiving the most votes from students, faculty, and staff. Each club member did a wonderful job speaking for his or her nonprofit, and when the votes were tallied, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida received the prize.

This exposure to the important work of these organizations and the extensive and varied needs in Central Florida and beyond will hopefully be a stepping stone that leads to awareness and action for Geneva students. We desire for these young people to know that God loves and cares for their neighbors and that there are many ways to get involved to help make others’ lives better. A partnership with the Victory Cup Youth Initiative ensures ongoing growth and enrichment in this area for TGS students.

Mandy Turnbull, Geneva English teacher and faculty sponsor of the Biblical Justice Club, shared some thoughts at the beginning of the assembly about justice and why we are drawn to it. We long for good to triumph over evil—we love superhero movies because the good guys defeat the villains, and we know that the good should win. But she went on to point out that biblical justice goes beyond this desire to see good triumph: it exhorts us to participate in justice, “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Mic. 6:8). We are called to enter into what God is doing in the world and in people’s lives as he redeems and restores until one day when all will be made new (Rev. 21). This is one of the greatest expressions of good triumphing over evil, when we are engaging, empowering, and encouraging those in our community (or even around the world) for the sake of God’s kingdom and his glory.

Here are the organizations and the students who represented them at the assembly:

Aeras Foundation | Charles White ’23
AMI Kids | Catherine Wilhite ’23
Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida | Addie Bowman ’23
Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida | Anna Mages ’22
Eight Cents in a Jar | Charley Turnbull ’23
Harbor House of Central Florida | Laura McKnight ’22
One Purse | Ella Hunter ’22
Ronald McDonald House Charities Central Florida | Mattie Shepherd ’25
Steinway Society of Central Florida | Sarah Barnhart ’22
The Mustard Seed of Central Florida | Olivia Kyle ’23

The Geneva School
The Geneva School
May 22, 2024
  • Senior Trip

    Date: May 17, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 11th Early Dismissal at 11:45

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 11th Exam Schedule

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 7th-10th Full School Day

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Chamber Orchestra

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 7:15 am- 8:15 am
    See more details

  • 6th Gr - Closing Ceremony

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 8:30 am- 10:00 am
    See more details

  • 2nd Gr - Closing Ceremony

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm
    See more details

May 23, 2024
  • 9th-11th Exam Schedule

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • US Early Dismissal 11:45 (9-11) 12:00 (7-8)

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Lower School Fun Day

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 8:15 am- 2:45 pm
    See more details

  • K4 - Closing Ceremony

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 8:20 am- 9:15 am
    See more details

  • K4 - End-of-Year Lunch

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 10:45 am- 11:15 am
    See more details

  • K - End-of-Year Lunch

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 11:40 am- 12:35 pm
    See more details

  • Baccalaureate Service

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 7:00 pm- 8:30 pm
    See more details

May 24, 2024
  • 1st-6th Gr Parties

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 7th-10th Exam Schedule

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Early Dismissal - Last Day of School

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • US Early Dismissal at 11:45

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Fathers Watch

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:00 am- 9:30 am
    See more details

  • 4th Gr - End-of-Year Brunch

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:10 am- 12:00 pm
    See more details

  • 6th Gr - Last Day of School Celebration

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:10 am- 12:00 pm
    See more details

  • 5th Gr - End-of-Year Brunch

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:30 am- 10:00 am
    See more details

  • 3rd Gr - End-of-Year Party

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:40 am- 9:30 am
    See more details

  • 1st Gr - End-of-Year Party

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 9:00 am- 10:00 am
    See more details

  • 2nd Gr - End-of-Year Party

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 11:00 am- 12:00 pm
    See more details

  • Commencement Ceremony

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 2:00 pm- 4:00 pm
    See more details

May 22, 2024
  • Senior Trip

    Date: May 17, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 11th Early Dismissal at 11:45

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 11th Exam Schedule

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 7th-10th Full School Day

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Chamber Orchestra

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 7:15 am- 8:15 am
    See more details

  • 6th Gr - Closing Ceremony

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 8:30 am- 10:00 am
    See more details

  • 2nd Gr - Closing Ceremony

    Date: May 22, 2024 - May 22, 2024
    Time: 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm
    See more details

May 23, 2024
  • 9th-11th Exam Schedule

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • US Early Dismissal 11:45 (9-11) 12:00 (7-8)

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Lower School Fun Day

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 8:15 am- 2:45 pm
    See more details

  • K4 - Closing Ceremony

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 8:20 am- 9:15 am
    See more details

  • K4 - End-of-Year Lunch

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 10:45 am- 11:15 am
    See more details

  • K - End-of-Year Lunch

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 11:40 am- 12:35 pm
    See more details

  • Baccalaureate Service

    Date: May 23, 2024 - May 23, 2024
    Time: 7:00 pm- 8:30 pm
    See more details

May 24, 2024
  • 1st-6th Gr Parties

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • 7th-10th Exam Schedule

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Early Dismissal - Last Day of School

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • US Early Dismissal at 11:45

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • Fathers Watch

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:00 am- 9:30 am
    See more details

  • 4th Gr - End-of-Year Brunch

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:10 am- 12:00 pm
    See more details

  • 6th Gr - Last Day of School Celebration

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:10 am- 12:00 pm
    See more details

  • 5th Gr - End-of-Year Brunch

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:30 am- 10:00 am
    See more details

  • 3rd Gr - End-of-Year Party

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 8:40 am- 9:30 am
    See more details

  • 1st Gr - End-of-Year Party

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 9:00 am- 10:00 am
    See more details

  • 2nd Gr - End-of-Year Party

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 11:00 am- 12:00 pm
    See more details

  • Commencement Ceremony

    Date: May 24, 2024 - May 24, 2024
    Time: 2:00 pm- 4:00 pm
    See more details

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