“Rhetoric to Reality”
If you watch any coming-of-age movie or show about students and high school, you’re immediately hit with the fact that those two are at war. The bumbling principal, the “cool” teacher that doesn’t listen to the bumbling principal, the rule-following teacher that is in constant conflict with the cool teacher, and then the student, fighting a noble fight to break free from the authoritarian rules and restrictions of the school and parents and “find themselves” while being guided into their enlightened state by the cool teacher. It’s a successful formula, and like most stereotypes, there is some truth in it.
At Heritage Prep, we believe there is a different way to do it.
Way back on September 27, 2017, we pushed over the first domino, announcing that we would launch our high school in the fall of 2021. Over the next couple of years we communicated our vision for what high school would look like and why it would matter. And then God began to work in unexpected ways.
On February 11, 2019, I met with a parent that had some questions around student scholarship organizations and how we utilized them. She had an educational consulting firm and was working to understand their impact on private schools. I had met this mom in passing before but had never had a conversation with her. In the middle of our meeting, I had my first epiphany. I felt the Lord telling me to ask her if she would become our headmaster. I think Mrs. Hames was as caught off guard as I was by the question, but she agreed to at least pray about it. I’m so grateful she was willing to follow God’s calling.
A little over a month later on March 21, 2019, the day before our annual board retreat, I experienced my second epiphany. Feeling uneasy and not at all at peace, I went to sit in the front office to get a change of scenery. I became overwhelmingly convinced that the plan for our high school being presented to the board the next day was simply taking a boilerplate of every other school and inserting Heritage Prep into the heading. I was convicted that if we did the same thing every other school does, even if we did it better, it would inevitably produce the same results. We needed to do something different. If we wanted to create a different type of school and develop a different kind of graduate, then we needed to look at things from a completely different perspective. Needless to say, my board was a little concerned. They hired me because of my experience with high schools. They weren’t all that excited about my idea to do something completely different. But after a lot of questions and prayer, they set the course forward. I am so grateful for their leadership and support.
We produced a lot of rhetoric and fielded a lot of questions over the next two years. With each new communication, our vision began to coalesce, to come into focus, allowing our rhetoric to become more refined. It was an exciting couple of years as we dreamed about creating a high school that would come alongside the parents and students, not in a war, but in a dance. A school that began with the end in mind, forgetting about conforming to the world’s idea of school and instead embracing what a true, classical and Christian education should look like.
Then you have the events of the past 2 years. The ram in the bushes that we now call North Campus. A community coming together to embrace this vision, investing their time, energy, resources, and prayers to bring to fruition this school year. The faculty and staff God led our way. The families who trusted us enough to go on this journey and become our inaugural high school class. I am incredibly humbled when I think back over this past school year.
I have always viewed my job as reducing as much as possible the gap between rhetoric and reality. Rhetoric is easy. Reality is something altogether different. It has a sharp edge against which many a dream has been crushed. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know if we would be able to close the gap between our rhetoric and reality. It is into those doubts that God stepped in to say…
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
When God is at work, the wise thing to do is simply continue to move forward. So that is what we will do. We will continue to be obedient to what God has called us to do, linking arms with you, our parents, to seek His face and to follow His calling…wherever He may take us.
Thank you for another phenomenal year at Heritage Preparatory School. I pray you have a blessed and restful summer.
Matthew H. Skinner