Clapham Christian Classical School

The Clapham Story

Founded on Prayer

In 2005, four families from the Wheaton area began meeting once a week to pray for a school that did not yet exist. The school did not yet have teachers, a curriculum, or even a location. But the four families had a vision and confidence in the Lord to answer their prayers and provide everything they would need in his perfect timing.

They dreamed of a school that would foster a genuine love of learning in its students and where students would engage deeply with the great books and thinkers of the past. Most importantly, the school would point students to Christ through all subjects.

Clapham School is an answered prayer— orchestrated by God.

Early Development

This counter-cultural idea for a school originated with parents Doug and Julie Reynolds who had spent time in England and were struck by the educational model seen in British public schools. Inspired also by the Wilberforce School, a classical Christian school in Princeton, New Jersey, and Providence Christian School in Dallas, Texas, they laid out a plan to start a similar school in the western suburbs of Chicago. Word quickly reached families in the area, such as the Litfins, Rynbrandts, and Olsons who, along with the Reynolds, created a weekly prayer group.

“When I think back to that eight-month season of prayer Saturday after Saturday,” said Mindy Rynbrandt, “we were standing in amazement week to week of what the Lord was doing.” Month by month, the Lord was providing everything they needed in order to open the school’s doors that upcoming fall. One of the biggest answers to prayer came through a providential encounter with a key decision maker at College Church in a church hallway which led to the opportunity to rent space.

“It’s a story of the Lord’s faithfulness,” added Chad Rynbrandt. “And how he provided families who were initially willing to enter into the adventure.”

The sense of adventure was felt among other founding families, as well. “One of my best friends was involved in a classical school in Memphis,” said Carolyn Litfin. “She told me, ‘If you’re going to do this, you’ve got to be two things: pioneering and prayerful.’”

Opening the Doors

By August 2006, 23 children had enrolled in Clapham School, and it officially opened its doors that fall after many long months of planning, prayer, and hard work. John and Julie Southard were among the first families enrolled. “I think one of the biggest things that drew us to Clapham was that they truly cared about the students and not just the academic aspect,” said Julie Southard.

Several years later, John Southard would go on to serve as Clapham’s board president. As he reflects back on the school’s earliest days, he is full of gratitude. “There were a lot of families that really sacrificially poured into that school to make it what it is today,” said Southard. “I’m always appreciative of what these people did to get it started.”