I would like to share with you some insights that I have gained about Clapham School over the years that I have been involved at this school. I have the benefit of having two perspectives: first as a parent and now as a teacher’s aide.
Our children started school at Clapham when our son, Stephen, was in class 5, and Betsy, our daughter, was in class 3. Our kids would proceed to attend Clapham for the next 4 years and moved on to high school when they were in 9th and 8th grade, respectively. Both children went on to finish their schooling at St. Charles East high school.
Currently, Stephen is a senior at Hillsdale College, and Betsy is a sophomore at Taylor University.
When Betsy left for college, I decided to return to work and came to Clapham as a teacher’s aide.
My husband, John, and I loved everything about the Classical education our kids received at Clapham. We left another Christian school to attend Clapham because we really wanted the academic rigor, classical underpinnings, and joyful discovery that Clapham School had to offer.
But I thought you would be more interested in hearing what Betsy and Stephen had to say about their education at Clapham as they look back, having been gone 5-6 years.
Both kids mention how much they appreciated their teachers at Clapham. Several of their teachers became mentors who they are still in touch with today.
Stephen has said that the idea of learning for its own sake and pursuing the good, true, and beautiful here at Clapham not only prepared him for college but also defined what he was looking for in a college. He chose to attend Hillsdale, a college that is very similar in philosophy to Clapham.
Betsy had the opportunity to write about Clapham in every one of her college admissions essays. The prompt was usually something about how you want to influence the world, or why you’ve chosen a particular field of study. Since she’s majoring in elementary education, Betsy says that she always knew she liked kids and wanted to be a teacher, but being a student at Clapham really got her interested in the methods of education and how influential they could be in a students’ growth and learning. These essays gave her the opportunity to write about her excellent teachers and the impact they have all had in her life. Betsy would like to like to emulate the examples set by these fine men and women.
Betsy will tell you that although she took Biology both in 8th grade at Clapham, and then in 9th grade at St Charles East High School, when she took introductory Biology last year as a freshman in college, it was what she learned from Mr. Ward in 8th grade that kept coming back to her. She remembered these facts because of HOW Mr. Ward taught her to learn it.
When she is faced with work to memorize or really understand, Betsy forces herself to either do a written or verbal narration because she knows that this tried and tested method works.
The excellent living books our kids read here at Clapham, both for Literature and read-aloud, have influenced our whole family, causing us to be much more discerning in our taste for good Literature. Many Clapham books ended up as family read-alouds as our kids would say, “We have to read this one as a family!”
Let me end with a humorous anecdote. There is one way Clapham ruined Betsy. She’s taking a class now called “Regional Geography,” and once or twice a week, the students are assigned to draw a map of the region they are studying. This usually takes place during the last 10 minutes of class. She says, “I know how to draw a perfect map, but I can’t do it in 10 minutes! We would take a month if this were Clapham!”
These are just a few examples of the lasting impact Clapham has made in the lives of our family. I hope it encourages every teacher to know that their hard work is not in vain. I also hope to assure every current Clapham family that they have their children in a very special place.