One of the toughest decisions I’ve made as a mother has been where to send my daughter to school. My own mother, disheartened by the perceived failures of her local school system, decided to teach her four sons and three daughters at home, sitting at the kitchen table.
Some of my earliest memories involve my brothers rolling the mobile chalk board and setting out our books and materials, while my sisters and I cleaned up breakfast and helped prepare the day’s lessons. Aided by a plethora of homeschooling materials, and a remarkable amount of determination, my indomitable mother taught her seven children everything she could about the nature of the world around us. Together with my siblings, I was challenged and inspired to know and seek out truth, to recognize and treasure what is good, and to passionately partake in what is beautiful.
Rich Education Without the Price Tag
But let’s be honest: Working parents do not have the luxury of homeschooling their children. Instead, we are tasked with selecting a school and an environment we are comfortable leaving our sons and daughters in for eight hours a day, five days a week.
For my daughter, I wanted her to attend a school where her mind would be challenged academically, her heart inspired towards virtue, and her spirit ennobled by the pursuit of wisdom. My husband and I wanted her to experience the richness of a classical education, but found we could not afford the high price tag of private schools. The local public schools offered a tuition-free program, but lacked the academic excellence and moral formation we desired for our child. The answer to our searching was found in the form of a classical charter school: Great Hearts Arlington.
Classical Charter Schools
For those who don’t know, charter schools are tuition-free, open-enrollment public schools that have the flexibility to set their own curriculum and academic programs, while being held to strict academic and financial accountability standards. Classical schools educate scholars through Socratic teaching methods, rigorous academics, and intentional character development. Classical academies give particular emphasis to the literary and philosophical Great Books of the Western World because of the way it speaks about the universal human condition and the laws of nature. To find a school that combined the principles of classical education with the convenience of being a tuition-free public school was a dream come true for my family!
Attending a classical charter school has not only improved my child’s academic performance, but also provided her with a moral framework. She is encouraged to pursue the why and how, in addition to the who and the what, through an education that imparts the classical tradition, cultivates civility, and inspires wonder.
A defining feature of a classical liberal arts education is that it is holistic, well-rounded, and interdisciplinary. Directly and indirectly, a classical education offers a deeper, lasting preparation for success in college, achieving a satisfying career, and living a meaningful life. A classical education by nature encourages thoughtful inquiry and respect, and emphasizes that in order for students to become great-hearted leaders they must share in a knowledge that is rooted in the humanities, sciences, and fine arts.
What to Expect
In every classroom, students are urged to consider the impact their decisions will have on the world around them. Students discover new knowledge, explore the world with wonder, and grow in virtue. They gain perspective from stories, history, discussions, dialogue, and shared experiences. Students are taught to ask questions, perceive patterns, and identify themes that guide their thinking.
Being a part of a classical charter school has meant so much to my family. At Great Hearts Arlington
, teachers, administrators, students, and families join together in a shared pursuit — thinking deeply, loving noble things, and living well together. From learning phonograms, writing cursive, and studying classical literature to engaging in group discussions, memorizing poetry, and identifying (and demonstrating) virtue — each of these experiences continues to influence and shape my child. Rather than simply being pushed to become a proficient test-taker, she is instead inspired to become a great-hearted leader.
As a parent, I appreciate that a Great Hearts education has given my daughter a sense of wonder and taught her how to think critically and ask questions. Because of its unique educational model, classical charter students are confident scholars who can clearly express their thoughts and ideas with others, while continually seeking truth, pursuing wisdom, and expanding their love of goodness and beauty. What a privilege it is to share the richness of the classical tradition with my own child, just as my mother shared this education with me.
While I may not be teaching from the kitchen table, I have the honor of participating in a community of joyful learning, where students are inspired, encouraged, and transformed.
Charlotte Garthune was raised in East Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler. She is the proud mother a Great Hearts student, an amateur pastry chef, cross-country runner, and licensed massage therapist. Charlotte currently serves at the director of campus operations for Great Hearts Arlington, and oversees a variety of departments at the academy, including the daily operations of the building, admissions, reception, and the medical clinic.
Great Hearts Arlington is the newest addition to a revolutionary network of tuition-free, in-person, and online public charter schools dedicated to improving education nationwide. A Great Hearts education prepares students to be more than just proficient test takers, but rather, to become great-hearted leaders capable of success throughout their higher education and professional careers. Great Hearts Arlington seeks to inspire the hearts and minds of students in the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. We believe in each student’s innate potential to comprehend the rich tradition of Western Civilization and to grow in the virtues that mark a profound, philosophical life. Follow Great Hearts Arlington on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.