Back to School 2020-2021

We are happy to announce that Gregory the Great Academy will open for the academic year of 2020-21 with our normal schedule and educational programs at our Elmhurst campus.

Dear Faculty, Students, and Parents,

On the day of the 9/11 attacks, the founding headmaster of our school told the boys that the most important thing to do when confronted with a destabilizing situation is to maintain the course of one’s vocation. I believe we have done just that in the current crisis, not allowing the COVID-19 outbreak to distract our school from its calling. It has been a good though somewhat grueling trial, testing the strength of our community in rising to the occasion. With difficult decisions, last-minute adjustments, and students showing the quality of their character, we have, with the grace of God, undertaken the challenge well. Thank you to all for staying the course.

With sympathy to those who have suffered hardship or loss due to the virus or the reactions it spurred, we are grateful that our immediate community has remained untouched by tragedy, and we offer our continuing prayers to the men and women guiding and supporting our country through the tumult. We are also grateful that the outbreak did not prove as widespread as once feared, though it resulted in a less-than-ideal close to our academic year. It has been hard, especially for our seniors (though we hope to offer them a fitting send-off in the near future).

As the year comes to a close, however, we look to the fall.

I am happy to announce that Gregory the Great Academy will open for the academic year of 2020-21 with our normal schedule and educational programs at our Elmhurst campus. Our students, teachers, and parents have all made very clear their desire and readiness to return to our usual operations and, as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania plans to reopen schools in September, we will do just that. We will begin classes on September 7 come what may, even if that will entail, at some interval during the year, whatever adjustments to our everyday proceedings that reason and prudence may dictate.

We are committed to the safety of our students and to those whom Christian charity requires a duty of concern. We are blessed to have a remote, self-contained, yet expansive campus, a small student body, and the ability to remain true to our mission while practicing certain measures of caution—such as eliminating travel, quarantine rooms, and sanitizing protocols. Whatever changes are deemed necessary to prevent infection, we are confident we can implement them and remain safe in our school and secure in our mission to provide young men with an education that will help them face a society growing more and more prone to secular incongruities.

Our enrollment numbers for next year are strong, with a large freshman class in the wings and a waiting-list forming. Support from parents and benefactors has surged in the past weeks, and, taking advantage of the closure, several campus developments are underway. We have also made good progress in making contingency plans and we are forming a board of medical professionals to advise us and inform any precautionary health measures we decide to adopt along the way. We will be ready for action in the fall and are looking forward to resuming our vital work with you and your sons.

As we make plans for the upcoming academic year and a return to our normal operations on campus, let us together renew our confidence in God, Whose Providence has ever upheld our school and given us every reason not to be afraid. The education and formation we provide is centered on that holy relationship that brings light and clarity into the dark confusion of the world. It is a guide to the fulfillment of human life and human freedom. Our work goes on because it is needed. See you all in September.

In Christ,

Luke Culley

Teacher, Teach Thyself

by Sean Fitzpatrick

One of the tragic results of the triple choke-hold demagoguery, diversity, and the almighty dollar have on the American classroom is that teaching is becoming less of an interpersonal art and more of an impersonal programming session. Teachers can certainly combat, and hopefully reverse, this crisis by offering students the truth of their subjects through the truth of who they are as teachers—when they teach themselves.

G. K. Chesterton once said with honest irony, “Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know,” which is precisely what education should not be. Denouncing those who systematize and stagnate education in this way, Catholic professor John Senior wrote in his unpublished work, The Restoration of Innocence: An Idea of a School:

They often say derisively, ‘He teaches himself instead of the subject.’ But he is the subject. If there is reason for derision it isn’t such teaching but the failure (usually the vanity) of the teacher. Every teacher teaches himself. And every student studies himself. Leonardo da Vinci said Narcissus contemplating the reflection of his own beauty in the mirror of a pool was the perfect artist—the perfect student, too, who sees in the mirror of language and nature a reflection of himself, discovering himself through what he thinks and feels. The anesthetic boy reflecting what the teacher says, rather than his own sensitive, emotional, volitional and intellectual experience, is as vain as the actor-teacher putting on an empty show.

If teachers are to teach effectively, they must, as Senior put it, teach themselves. It is a well-worn adage that teachers can only give what they have, and what they have most intimately are their own selves. No power-point presentation can come close to the power of a person willing to reveal his life and loves in the context of a subject he is passionate about. With such teachers—and many have had them and remember them best—students advance with eagerness and energy towards their individual perfection, discovering themselves through a teacher’s sharing of himself. In this approach, the importance of personal experiences that augment and enliven the subject matter to create human connections cannot be emphasized enough.

Education is an encounter and engagement with things good, true, and beautiful in the context of natural human interactions for the sake of human happiness. As an action exercised by one human being upon and with another, education has far more to do with friendship and faith than with career-oriented, politically correct lesson plans and talking points. Education can never be automated or prepackaged. It requires a dynamic relationship, and relationships require human presence and dynamics, together with an open heart, an open mind, a good will, a knowledge of things, and facility in conversation.

Subjects and academic rigors there must be, of course, but the mode of approach is central to any meaningful education. In following the ordinary principles of human interaction, teachers can be extraordinary educators, and the same can be said for students—especially once both come to the realization that they must teach and learn universal truths through their particular perspectives. For example, students of C. S. Lewis’ The Four Loves will be far keener and more disposed to learn hearing how their teacher fell in love than with the text alone. Teachers must be personal if they intend to teach people. Human beings find other human beings interesting, and teachers must be human when they teach if they are to form human beings. Furthermore, as Senior says, teachers should draw their students towards the material as people themselves, not as programs following a closed system, urging them to reflect inwardly and speak outwardly.

True education is more than the mere memorization of information or the assimilation of facts. It is a cultivation of soul that, as St. John Henry Newman says in his Idea of a University, “implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character.” The formation of character implies an active character, and that character, that subject, again as Senior posits, is the teacher and the student. The more honest a teacher is about who he is, the more honest will his students become, beholding who they themselves are in the shared light of their educator who leads them joyfully, as a flesh-and-blood person, out of the cave of shadows. Teachers who teach themselves so that students can learn who they are and through who they are establish an atmosphere of friendliness and mutual understanding—they establish rapport.

Rapport is the relationship championed by St. John Bosco wherein mutual trust and respect is nurtured in a spirit of friendship, sympathy, and cooperation. The teacher who is actually and clearly interested in helping people become better and more fulfilled will win the hearts of students. Rapport arises when this human understanding between them takes shape: that the teacher sincerely cares about the welfare of the student and the student appreciates this and acts accordingly. When rapport is established, a teacher can become a positive influence as a person upon people, and the students will strive to please those whom they love, for love is the beginning and end of rapport. And love, as Christ taught His friends, is impossible without a human connection.

Education will not be humanized until teachers and students alike first recognize that the realities they teach and learn are offered and received through themselves in an atmosphere of rapport. They should freely teach and learn the eternal truths through their own personal observations, experiences, perspectives, studies, thoughts, and queries. They should enjoy the material together as friends, talking about what they think, observe, like, and do not like. They should allow ideas to intermingle with stories instead of scripts. Conversations do not have plans. Neither do dynamic, interpersonal relationships which bring about perfection in the educational arena; namely, the perfection of a person at the hands of another person, a teacher, who is not afraid to teach himself.

Admissions Open for the 2019-2020 Academic Year

With graduation behind us and students homeward bound, Admissions is in full swing and we are looking to enroll good boys at the Academy for the 2019-2020 academic year. If you would like your son to enter the freshman, sophomore, or junior class, please call our main office at 571-295-6244, or write to Mrs. Beebe, Admissions Director at Classes are filling fast, so if you have been thinking about applying, this is a good time to take the first step by asking for an application.

We welcome your questions and are happy to help you in any way to make the best decision possible for your son’s high school education.