The new academic year is fast approaching. This year in the high school I will be teaching economics in the fall, followed by four weeks of Georgia History. The remainder of the year we will be studying U.S. Government. Economics and U.S. Government are required courses for graduation in the state of Georgia. Our econ course stands head and shoulders above others of which I am aware. Indeed, one student took econ at a college and, even though that gave him enough credits to graduate, he asked to come back and study economics at Heritage. Two or three weeks into the school year he told me he had already learned more than he had in an entire semester of econ at a local college. High school literature is really interesting this year, but with titles like The Federalist Papers and The Wealth of Nations, it will not be quite as story based as usual, though we will read a couple of Shakespeare plays, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and, almost certainly, Les Miserables (I'm still reviewing a new translation). As usual, I will also be teaching Latin I & II. In the 8/7 classes, I will be teaching American History and American Literature.
As all those who have been with Heritage for a while know, Mrs. Pearcey retired after the 2016-2017 academic year, having taught at Heritage for sixteen good years. Last year Mrs. Schutz took over the classes Mrs. Pearcey used to teach. I cannot imagine a much more difficult transition. Mrs. Pearcey had done a fantastic job and had become something of a fixture at Heritage. I expected that people would make comparisons between her and Mrs. Schutz, and they did. For my part, I never expected or asked for Mrs. Schutz to teach in the exact same way as Mrs. Pearcey. We must always take into account a teacher's personality and style. Mrs. Pearcey always used the Stewart English Program to teach grammar, repeatedly calling it the best grammar program she had ever used. I think a better way of putting it may have been "the best [she] had ever used that fit [her] teaching style." Mrs. Schutz will be transitioning to a different program put forth in books written not by Mr. Stewart, but by Michael Clay Thompson. Having reviewed these books, I am excited about Thompson's approach. He teaches grammar in the context of the larger picture of sentences and paragraphs so that students may, from the beginning, understand where what they are learning fits into the larger scheme of things. It is this same approach that I like in our Latin book, which, while not perfect, is excellent in that it has students learning Latin in the context of whole sentences from the very beginning. Thompson does the same thing. Furthermore, like Stewart, he uses actual quotations from many of the works or authors that students study in my literature classes, thus further integrating our studies.
This year we are transitioning from the apologetics book we have used in the past to a book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, Jesus Among Secular Gods. Availability of the John Frame book we used to use is limited at present, but even more important, I think the Zacharias book is a better fit for teaching apologetics to today's high school students.
Book and supply lists will be sent out later this week, together with the order in which the books will be needed. When you order books, please make sure you order the exact copies (ISBN's are provided) on the ordering list. Some students have had alternative editions in the past and had trouble figuring out what to read and where we are in the book. I try hard to keep book costs down, but occasionally have to require an edition that is slightly more expensive than another out there because I believe it to be a superior edition and therefore important to a student's education.
We will be holding orientation meetings the week before classes start. Please make every effort, even sacrifice, to attend. Nearly every year some people don't attend the orientation meeting only to find later in the year that they missed some key information that was clearly covered at the orientation meeting.
Finally, we have a student trip planned for spring break. This year we will be going to Rome and Pompeii. Of course, we will see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, St. Peter's, the Sistine Chapel, and the catacombs. Moreover, we will visit my favorite art museum in the world (and I have seen the best ones) the Galleria Borghese . Now, I call this a student trip, but that is only because students get first dibs on participating in the trip. It is actually open to parents, grandparents, and basically anyone who is a friend of mine and whom I trust. You might think, "Oh, I don't want to travel with a bunch of students. I'm a grown up." In answer to that, my sister and her husband traveled with us on our last trip. They live near Cleveland, Ohio and didn't know anyone on the trip except my wife and me. After we came home, Gretchen and Bill stayed in Europe for a couple of more weeks and traveled around on their own. She told me afterward that it was far more fun for them to travel with our group than to go about on their own and they plan to travel with us again.
Here's to a terrific, Christ-centered school year!