Rhetoric has sometimes been described as the art of moving souls. The Geneva School strives to give each student the ability to think well, using wisdom and discernment, and to polish and refine his/her oral and writing skills to communicate winsomely.
Alec Ortiz, a current eighth grader, came at The Geneva School when he was four years old. His family loves to reminisce about one of the seminal moments that confirmed the value of the education he is receiving.
“When Alec was in fifth grade, he was asked by his older brother to be the best man at his wedding. Alec delivered a speech that left all two hundred guests in awe. His eloquence, timing, and humor while delivering the speech was enviable—even to most of the adults present. As his parents, we glowed with pride. We understood that Geneva was instilling in him great confidence and ability—and it was on full display as he delivered his speech.”
Alec’s confidence has only grown as he has progressed into the upper school. He contributes to the success of the golf team, the House of Iona, and conversations in the classrooms.
The Bowser family says they weren’t looking for a school for their daughter, but rather, The Geneva School found them! Katherine Bowser explains how they found TGS and the impact the school is having on their daughter Abigail.
We spent last year home schooling with a classical education homeschool community. It was a really wonderful experience and I thought we would probably always home school. Christian classical education is very important to us and I thought that home schooling would be the best way to give that to my children.
We live down the street from a wonderful family that had two daughters go through Geneva and the parents love the school so much, they’re still involved. They invited us to the school’s annual auction and encouraged us to go to a prospective parent night to learn more. We weren’t expecting to fall in love with the school, but we went to the prospective parent night anyway just to check it out.
As my husband and I sat in a small room with about twenty other parents and listened to the speaker talk about the school’s values, mission, and philosophy of education, we kept looking at each other and smiling. We couldn’t believe what he was saying! He was describing the kind of education that we had been trying so hard to provide at home. He was describing exactly what we wanted for our kids—the culture, values, and community we wanted them to grow up with. He talked about teaching children how to think, rather than what to think and instilling in students a desire to love beauty, think deeply, and pursue Christ’s calling. We weren’t sure if any school could actually pull this off, but we wanted to believe him. Mr. Ingram gave us a tour of the school and it didn’t take long for us to decide that this was it. When we found out Abigail had been accepted, we were so excited! We had high expectations and everyone at The Geneva School has surpassed our expectations in every way.
One might think the school’s mission, “To love beauty, think deeply, and pursue Christ’s calling” would be out of reach for four and five year olds, but that is not so! One night as I was tucking Abigail into bed, she said, “Mom, I sin.” “What?” I asked. “Sometimes I sin,” she continued. I was surprised because this wasn’t something we had talked about yet. She explained, “Sin makes my heart black, but when I pray and Jesus forgives me, he comes in like an eraser and makes my heart clean again.” It was such beautiful imagery and I immediately knew where it came from. I texted her teacher who told me about her lesson to the children that morning using a white board and eraser to explain sin and Jesus’ forgiveness. This lesson in their morning devotion demonstrated perfectly to me the love that the teachers show these kids and how they’re pointing them to Christ every day.
Keira Raesly is our beloved fourth grade lead teacher and it’s easy to see why her students love being in her class.
I wanted to be able to teach the whole child and help cultivate both the heart and mind within each student. I was longing for a place where teaching was both mission and profession. I have that at Geneva.
I adore these kids; the way they pray, love the Lord, and love their friends and family inspire me to love them well. We are a community of imperfect people who try to be perfect in how we love and help each other. I have witnessed countless parents come to the aid of another parent or teacher who is struggling with a life challenge. It’s easy to see why the students are so compassionate toward one another and band together to encourage and support each other.
I love that the curriculum is integrated, developmentally appropriate, yet challenging. Everything is connected and allows the students plenty of opportunities to become curious, ask questions, and make connections that deepen their understanding of a subject. The curriculum compliments the naturally curious nature of children which, as a teacher and parent, I really appreciate. In fact, as I quite literally walked through our history timeline on a fieldtrip, the students were seeing, feeling, and hearing the history in person and it helped me to understand how, when all the senses are engaged in an authentic way, a true learning experience takes place that will stay with them forever.
Andrew Nelson—upper school physical science and chemistry teacher, star of the faculty basketball team, and faculty head of the House of Wittenberg—understands he is privileged not only to teach, but also to mentor. He spent a year teaching in another school, but lamented that he was unable to help the students make one of the most significant connections—the one between chemistry and the God of chemistry. “I wasn’t permitted to highlight the beauty of creation through the world of chemistry. I love the fact that exploring the smallest parts of creation gives us a larger view of God.
Studying creation through the lens of ionic and covalent bonds gives us a deeper appreciation for the fact that Christ holds all things together (Colossians 1). Studying nature at the atomic level with the understanding that one mole of water (18.02 ml) holds 6.02 x 1023 molecules gives even greater beauty to the fact that God spoke all things into being. Mr. Nelson loves teaching at Geneva because the heart of the curriculum is answering the question, “How does this subject point to Christ?”
Geneva is known for excellent faculty members who invest in students both in and out of the classroom. Whether it’s ninth grade discipleship or a senior guys Bible study, Mr. Nelson pours into his students. “Some of my most impactful moments at Geneva have been during those Bible studies. We talk a lot about what it means to be a Christian man in a dark world. The guys open up and ask the hard questions. I’ve loved getting to hear their hearts and encourage them as they prepare for college.” A student’s confidence to hypothesize, question, discuss, test, and conclude soars for those who sit under Mr. Nelson’s tutelage both as they study chemistry and God’s Word. The Geneva School is grateful to have him investing in its students.
How did our family come to join the Geneva community? When our oldest Martin was two years old, we were talking at the playground with some good neighborhood friends of ours about school options. They were leaving to check out a prestigious school even though the boys were just two. We tagged along and that night we fell in love with The Geneva School. We were captured by the philosophy and curriculum and our only disappointment was that we had to wait until Martin was four to enroll him!
Our family, not unlike many other families in our community, serves in vocational ministry. So Martin, growing up as a pastor’s son, has been consistently exposed to God’s Word. As you might imagine, this can bring with it a special challenge: how do we ensure that Martin remains enamored by the beauty of the gospel? This was a question we monitored closely as Martin grew up.
It has been a pleasure to watch Martin, now in ninth grade, grow—not only academically, but also in his spiritual hunger and interest in God’s Word. Geneva is very intentional with each student and I’ve seen this play out time and again in Martin’s life. He’s had so many great teachers pour into him; teachers who recognized and helped develop his strengths while also caring enough to come alongside him to fine-tune his areas of weakness.
One of the best things that I believe the school does in the early years is the end-of-year ceremonies. The teacher speaks a blessing into the life of each child. Some years the blessing takes the form of a written prayer, other years it’s a special award. But in either case, the blessings are personalized and specific to that child’s character. One of the cool things about this is that Martin has had an opportunity to hear from several teachers and coaches over the years that he has the gift of leadership. It has been one of the traits that his teachers have consistently pointed out. This has helped us as parents to encourage this gift and to challenge him to live up to it. Martin’s not numb to spiritual things because the gospel isn’t “sprinkled on” at TGS, it is woven throughout the curriculum so that thinking Christians are produced here. I’m proud of the man that Martin is becoming and thank The Geneva School for the role it has played, and continues to play, in his formation.
Wisdom with determination is a powerful combination. Brooke Riley has prayed for and practiced both over and over again during her thirteen years at The Geneva School. After graduating as salutatorian of her senior class, she is now a junior at Davidson College, NC and recognizes what a gift her Geneva education was for her.
When asked how Geneva prepared her for college, Brooke says, “Everything I learned at TGS, whether in the classroom, on a field trip, or through sports was valuable and shaped me into the person I am. The substance of the curriculum was incredible and it is what makes Geneva different. It taught me to look at everything in light of Christ, to think philosophically, and not accept things at a surface level. I am well equipped to vocalize my thoughts and ideas, as well as defend my faith.”
“Geneva gave me so many ‘God moments.’ Studying theology was an amazing opportunity, one that many schools don’t offer to their students. I’m a very analytical person so this helped me to grow in my faith. At Geneva, we learned to incorporate God into our thinking. Even math class was linked back to God and his work here on earth,” Brooke says.
Ravi Jain, who has taught Scientific Revolution, AP Calculus, and AP Physics at Geneva since 2003, called Brooke a fearless analytical thinker. He says, “Brooke approached problem solving much like mastering her volleyball serve. She just kept at it until she got it, hit a new rhythm of understanding, and then helped others get it too. With respect to academic pursuits, she valued the community and loved to help her classmates.”
A leader on the volleyball court, Brooke and the Geneva varsity Lady Knights competed in the 2A Final Four state competition in 2013 and reached the final 16 in 2014. Her experience on the volleyball court had important take-aways. Brooke says, “Playing volleyball taught me the value of teamwork, discipline, and selflessness, which can all be applied in the classroom, in learning, and in helping others. You can make a big difference in someone’s life by just setting a good example.”
Brooke is currently pursuing her love of physics and math at Davidson College, and is working toward both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and product design.
“My father loved God and wanted me to have a strong personal relationship with him and to share that with others. He also wanted me to work hard at all I do and become a strong man of God.”
Before Chris Cox graduated from Geneva, he had to give his senior speech, a rite of passage for every twelfth grade student. In his speech, Chris described how important the Geneva community had become after the passing of his father in fifth grade.
“Through the years, Geneva shaped me mentally and spiritually. My teachers and coaches were the godly role models I needed as I was growing up. Although this didn’t fill the void of being fatherless, they inspired me to be the man my father would have wanted me to be, “ he said.
Chris excelled in Bible, rhetoric and English courses, where he enjoyed classroom discussions about the search for truth and “leaving no stone unturned.” An avid reader, Chris also credits his years of Latin for an exponential growth in vocabulary and other languages.
Chris is a senior at Covenant College in Tennessee where he is majoring in sports administration and coaching, and also playing tennis. “As I go on to college, I feel I can count on Geneva’s foundation to help me do hard things for God in the world. Although I feel academically prepared for college, I also have a very clear understanding of purpose: to love God and glorify him forever.”
Chris summed up his Geneva take-away by repeating this prayer said at the close of upper school chapel:
Let it be known to all who enter here
That Christ is the reason for this school.
The unseen, but ever-present Teacher in its classrooms;
The model of its staff,
And the inspiration of it’s students.
Inspiring students to love beauty, think deeply, and pursue Christ's calling.