Let me tell you a story …
It’s about a boy from a wonderful family with parents who dreamed about a better future for their children. Though the family didn’t have a lot of money, the parents believed in the importance of education as a way to change their children’s lives. While they couldn’t afford a private education, they made sure to live in neighborhoods that offered quality schools, and the young boy flourished under the care of supportive, enthusiastic teachers. The young boy studied hard, excelled in his classes, and eventually went to a university. There, armed with the knowledge he’d accumulated in various classrooms over the years, he wrote a novel at nineteen and another at twenty-two. Years later, still drawing on the education that had changed his life, just as his parents had dreamed, he wrote a novel entitled: The Notebook.
Education changed my life, and the education I received growing up prepared me for the world I’d be facing in the future.
Years later, when my own children were beginning their educations, I remembered how well I’d been prepared, and I took a moment to consider how much the world had changed since I was young – the stunning technological advances, the increasing dynamics of globalization, and the rapid growth in local communities of those who speak a language other than English. I began to wonder whether schools were preparing my children for the world they would be facing. I began to read – and study – everything I could about education. I talked to experts and asked a lot of questions. Slowly but surely, I began to realize that my children were receiving pretty much the same education that I had more than a quarter century before. An education that, I further realized, hadn’t changed much since the 1950’s — a period when General Motors was the largest company in the world, when both Europe and the Far East were still recovering from the ravages of World War II, and when America had little competition abroad.
Where was the use of technology as a teaching and learning tool? Where was the fluency program? Where was the educational philosophy that believed that understanding the world was critical to success? Or even, where was a school that used Singapore Math, the finest math curriculum in the world? I looked for schools – any schools, in the entire country – that were doing everything right. The only ones I found were private schools, and most of them were very expensive, far beyond the means of most families.
That didn’t sit right with me. Why should only those children from wealthy families be the ones who were receiving the kind of education that all children deserved? It wasn’t fair, and I knew it.
My wife, Cathy, and I realized then that if we wanted to do the right thing for young people, we’d have to start our own school, one that emphasized the humanities as well as math, science, engineering, and technology. A school that offered a fully comprehensive program of global studies that included the goal of fluency, educational opportunities abroad, and a culture that introduced students to the world beyond our borders. We wanted all the extracurricular activities students have come to expect. Significantly, and perhaps our greatest challenge of all, we wanted to do it all at with the lowest tuition possible.
We weren’t sure it could even be done. There were no models out there to follow; no schools even attempted to do all that we envisioned. And yet, we went ahead, essentially starting from scratch. Trustees, administrators, and faculty sifted through data and research studies. We vetted potential global partners, and we helped design and implement cutting edge programs.
And, we succeeded. We implemented a rigorous college preparatory program and a Global Studies program unlike any other in the country, and families began flocking to the school, increasing the enrollment every year. Like all new ventures, there were mistakes along the way. When you start down an unknown, unexplored path, occasional wrong turns are inevitable. But at the school, we adapted and learned from our mistakes. We improved. We tried new ideas, keeping the ones that worked and dismissing the others. Slowly but surely, The Epiphany School of Global Studies has become all that my wife, Cathy, and I originally envisioned it to be.
And now, I’m asking for your help in supporting the school. Cathy and I have poured our heart and soul – and substantial financial resources – into proving that a school can prepare students for life in the 21st century, but there’s more to do. If you believe – as I do – that education is critical in young people’s lives, then you also realize that supporting The Epiphany School of Global Studies is one of the most effective ways to help improve the quality of education in your own community.
How is that possible? Because of our success, the school has become something of a working “Think Tank”: a place where educational ideas are tested in real-world settings, then evaluated, modified and perfected. We test products and programs; we partner with organizations, companies, and non-profits in ways that other schools can’t, always striving for improvement. We then share this information with other schools, at educational conferences, and among other educators. By supporting the school, in other words, you are supporting educational research.
What I’d eventually like to do is “open-source” everything we’ve learned. For those unfamiliar with the term, “open-source” means simply this: We intend to provide answers, guidelines, expectations, and real-world pros and cons of all that we’ve learned – free of charge – to any school that requests the information, so they can implement the program in their own schools and then add their data and experiences to ours. In part, open sourcing our information means that other local schools won’t have to make the same mistakes that we did. They won’t have to struggle to learn what to do. Instead, they’ll learn which programs work best, which ones didn’t quite measure up, and how to effectively implement a school-wide improvement plan. Schools will learn the most cost-effective ways to succeed. And in time, it’s our hope that all schools can do what we’ve been able to do in a small, rural southern town.
As much as I would love to, I don’t have the resources to start a school like The Epiphany School of Global Studies in every community. What I can do, however, is to offer schools around the country all the information they need to offer the best education possible for their own students, in the most cost-effective manner possible.
It’s a dream. I understand that. But, it’s not free. Since our inception, The Epiphany School of Global Studies has never taken a single penny from local, state, or the national government, nor will we start now. Instead, we’d like your support to help make this vision a reality.
Founder and Chairman of the Board
The Epiphany School of Global Studies
All gifts to The Epiphany School of Global Studies for scholarship funds are tax-deductible