Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In a new school year, an official name and seal for our home school...


Despite having home-schooled our children for a few years, we've never actually settled on a name for our home school. It seems kind of trivial to name your own home school, but I've come to think that doing so is actually quite useful for a number of reasons:
  • For tax purposes, your state government or your local school district may actually ask for a name for your home school (this has happened to us on a number of occasions). It would nice to put something other than "Koop Family School."
  • In our parish, the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, MN, there is a home school graduation every spring for all of the outgoing seniors. The name of each family's home school is featured prominently in the program in a profile of each student.
  • Having a school name can give the children a sense of identity in their school.
  • Placing your home school under the prayerful patronage of a saint in heaven is always a good idea :-)
We had always thought that once we had our dedicated school space in our new home we would finally make a decision on our school name, and being that we are into the new school year, the time has arrived.

Both Molly and I have had powerful experiences on Ignatian silent retreats (evidence Molly's diaries from her last two such retreats) and I personally have been blessed so greatly by the Spiritual Exercises written by St. Ignatius. His "Principle and Foundation" is exactly the kind of "mission statement" that should guide our schooling: man is created to know, love, and serve God, and all created things should be utilized by man in as much as they help him on toward this goal, and should be discarded by man in as much as they hinder him toward it. Therefore, the purpose of our home school must be to orient our children toward a deeper level of knowing, loving, and serving God, otherwise our school (and indeed our family life) is not serving its purpose. One of the main ways our home school can accomplish this is by fostering growth in virtue in each child.  

Virtues are nothing more than "the habit of doing the good," key word being "habit." Growth in virtue takes hard work, work that is needed to build the habits that eventually facilitate "doing the good" without even thinking about it, and doing so in a joyful, self-giving manner. If growth in virtue is fostered in children, the academics part will take care of itself. Our school can also foster self-denial, honesty, sacrifice, charity, and so many other virtues. St. Ignatius, through his writings and Spiritual Exercises, is an ideal patron and model for all those seeking growth in virtue, as it is one of the main themes in his writings.

With all this in mind, we have named our school "St. Ignatius of Loyola Classical Academy." The word "classical" is in there to emphasize that we use the classical trivium method of schooling, with the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages. Of course once we selected this name, I simply had to design a seal for our school that we could put on the wall to make things official, and Molly and I also wanted to select a motto that would be included in the seal (in Latin of course). After a few hours of work on the seal itself, the final product looks like this:

The picture of St. Ignatius is one I found using Google image search, which I then cropped near the face and included in the seal design. The motto, "Usus magister est virtus," can be translated aphoristically in English to "Practice makes virtue." More directly, it also can be translated as "Practice teaches virtue," or "Practice is the virtuous teacher." All this is meant to remind our children that, in cooperation with God's grace, hard work and perseverance is necessary to build the "habit of doing the good" -- to grow in virtue. Additionally, inside the seal I placed the symbol for the motto of the Jesuits (the order St. Ignatius founded), A.M.D.G. -- "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" -- "For the greater glory of God." This motto really goes together with the main one below the seal.

Here's some pictures of the seal on the wall in our school room:


Sarah said...

Don't forget a school uniform! :)

Molly Koop said...

Our school uniform: get out of your pajamas! :) The last photo is of the kids on the first official day of school. Usually I have them dress up a bit for such an occasion, but they were so ready to get through their schoolwork and OUTSIDE since the weather has been so perfect. I gave in for the sake of less laundry. :)

Anonymous said...

Very, very nice!
Kristi Landis

John Curran said...

Excellent choice for Patron and name; great design of seal.