People come and people go. That is a truth in any organization. It is human nature, I suppose to some extent, for people to get interested in a thing, even convinced about a thing, then lose interest or become unconvinced over time. Because it is enrollment season and families are deciding whether or not they ought to attend Trinitas, I want to spend the next few weeks focusing on some of the top reasons people give for losing interest in and leaving Trinitas.
#1 The standards are too high!
Standards are high at Trinitas. After all, we ask kindergartners to memorize things like 1 Corinthians 13. We ask 1st graders to take three spelling tests every week. We ask seniors to write and defend a fifteen page thesis. But it’s more than just rigorous academics: we expect students to look each other and adults in the eyes when they speak to them. We expect them to greet each other and adults in the halls. We have an honor system for buying snacks and drinks; we don’t use cover sheets when taking tests; we don’t have hall or bathroom monitors; we expect students to be young men and women of integrity— we expect them to love God and neighbor.
These examples of expectations are the tip of the iceberg. We do hold the bar high, but not out of reach; in other words, it isn’t too high. If the standards at classical Christian schools like Trinitas seem too high, it is because the rest of the world has lowered theirs. When Trinitas students play with their cousins or their friends from church or the neighborhood, they often see reactions of disbelief on their faces when they talk about what they do at school. Our society has become obsessed with how everyone feels, and as it turns out, we do not often feel like working hard or stretching ourselves or pushing ourselves to achieve more. So instead of pushing our children to learn, we often let them do what they feel like doing instead. The result is that our society does not expect much of its children, and they usually meet that lack of expectations. At Trinitas, we ask much of our students; and with the right support and encouragement at home, church, and school, they almost always rise to meet or even exceed what is expected of them.
Yes, high expectations mean hard work. And when children are transferring in from another school or coming from a home environment where expectations haven’t been high, the transition is hard, so hard in fact, that it sometimes causes families to leave the school. Don’t let that be the reason you leave the school. I remember when my oldest was in first grade (he is now a sophomore in college); he did not want to meet the handwriting expectation, and quite frankly, I wasn’t keen on forcing him to either. But after much patient explaining and re-explaining and encouraging from the teacher, he and I both came to see the importance of beautiful handwriting. We worked at it together; we worked hard; we worked every day for years, and in the end, we learned much together. We learned that our struggle was about much more than handwriting. It was about doing everything as to the Lord, even the very small things. It was about coming to an understanding of beauty and how making things beautiful is a way of imitating and glorifying God. It was about realizing that I had never expected enough of my son…or myself.
It is hard work to meet high expectations, and the expectations at Trinitas are certainly high. I encourage you, though, to think about the kind of man or woman you want your child to become. Where should the bar be? Learn to work hard or just do what it takes to get by? Low expectations or high? I hope you choose to expect much of your children to the glory of God.