If you have struggled, as I have, to put into words what makes Westminster so special, I suggest you take a look at Mr. Herring’s definition of excellence from his chapel sermon.
“Excellence is not necessarily winning a state championship or making the National Honor Society. Excellence is a relentless pursuit towards God and God’s relentless pursuit towards us.”
–Bridges Herring, Westminster Teacher
While his point was to help our state champion girls track team and the new inductees to the National Honor society reflect upon their achievement, his answer reveals so much more. He reveals his heart and the heart we have come to expect to find in every Westminster teacher. Not only do they have a different goal than most teachers, they use a different path.
First, the goal of Westminster teachers is for every student to develop the mind of Christ. Take another look at Mr. Herring’s definition: he wanted our girls to know that he was proud they won a state championship but not for the reasons they might suspect. He was proud because it proved they were pursuing excellence and he was hopeful, having tasted it, they would want more of it. He wants them to long for it so badly that they have a “relentless pursuit” of it. Because as all of us who have lived longer know no accomplishments, even a state championship, will satisfy this longing. Only Christ is truly excellent. Only He is worth pursuing. I would add that as impressive as the first part of his definition is, as a parent, it is the second part that moves me. I want my children to know that God is relentlessly pursuing them, and what better way for them to grasp this reality than having teachers who are willing to imitate this pursuit daily. As a parent I cannot tell you how many times I have been encouraged by the willingness of our teachers to stand in the shoes of my children to understand both their lack of knowledge and the particular struggles they are having as children or teenagers.
Because our teachers are so vital to Westminster’s growth, our goal as we develop our annual plan is to implement fiscally responsible improvements to make their efforts more impactful, efficient, and rewarding. Because we do not take your investments of time, tuition, or donations for granted, every year we seek to give you information on where Westminster is or how we are moving towards excellence. Of course, as adults we do not have the clear indicators of progress such as winning a championship or being selected into the National Honor Society. Thus, measuring progress can be subjective and without a doubt there are other indicators than the nine I have chosen. At the same time, they seem to me to make a compelling argument that Westminster is moving towards excellence. More importantly, they indicate God is moving towards us.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #1: We Are Mission Driven.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #2: Westminster is Growing into a Rich and Stable Community.
35% growth over 4 years has created a school large enough to function as a community yet small enough for the pursuit of the student.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #3: We Are Financially Mission Driven and Stable.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #4: We Compare Well to Other Schools.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #5: Consider the Testimony of Margaret Pless, a 2006 Graduate, Who Has Returned to Teach for Us.
Consistency, steadiness, and the wisdom of experience— these are all qualities that Westminster has acquired since my time here as a student. I am grateful for the way Westminster has blossomed. But as we move forward, I hope we remember our past.
There is no place quite like a young school. Being the guinea pig student wasn’t always fun. I got frustrated on college visits when the tour guide thought I attended an imaginary high school that specialized in classical music. Each fall, I would cry because I wouldn’t get a homecoming dress to wear with my corsage under a homecoming balloon arch. And even as a kid, my sense of the impermanence of the curriculum, the teachers, even our lovely portable classrooms was disconcerting.
But I had so much more than I lacked. At Westminster, I was free. Inside those temporary trailers we were about the business of the eternal: writing the Word of God into the souls of men. My teachers incarnated truth in their spontaneity, humor, and love. My teachers loved God, they loved their students, and they lived to connect the two. When we wanted to talk about a movie we had seen, an idea in the news, the book we were reading in another class, our teachers did not silence us to forge ahead with their precious plans. For them, there was no such thing as a tangent. “All truth is God’s truth,” they taught me. My teachers lived in that freedom as they harnessed my curiosity. So we marched onto the field to learn what a phalanx was. We flipped pancakes while we studied Nietzsche. We crossed the globe to stand on Mars Hill in Athens like Paul. The words became flesh everyday at school for me as my teachers set me free to really think.
You might think that increased structure will lead to the death of this spontaneity. But Westminster’s maturity hasn’t curbed her freedom. As Chesterton explains of the great paradox of our faith, “A man cannot expect any adventures in the land of anarchy. But a man can expect any number of adventures if he goes traveling in the land of authority.” And so we can expect plenty of adventure even in a more organized era of Westminster’s lifetime, as long as we do not become slaves of arbitrary educational bureaucracy. We shouldn’t serve a schedule or standardized tests. At Westminster, we serve God so we serve people. And God’s truth will always set us free.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #6: A Special and Unique Culture is Developing.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #7: Our Model of Education is Growing Stronger and Deeper.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #8: We are Starting to Develop the Culture and Character of Champions.
Moving Towards Excellence Indicator #9: We are Building Facilities Designed for Our Approach to Education.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this document and I hope it encourages you that your investment into Westminster is wise and is showing significant returns.
With the new building and so many others advancements, I know many of you (especially those who remember increases of 10-11%) have been concerned about tuition increases. As we said last year, if pledges and donations exceeded $2,000,000 we did not expect our new facility to drive up tuition. Our goal is that enrollment growth and donations will cover the expenses incurred by building and all other school improvements. Thus, the primary driver for tuition increases is a desire to pay our teachers better. With this in mind next year’s increase is going to be 4.5%. I know that tuition is difficult for many of our families. Please be aware that we are working very hard to control costs. Our prayer is that if reenrollment is strong that we should be able to give our teachers a raise equal to or slightly greater than the rate of the tuition increase.
We do ask that you reenroll quickly. We are expecting to have a waiting list in almost every grade; and if you have not responded by January 16, we will have to offer your spot to another child. Secondly, the faster you reenroll the faster we can finalize decisions about next year. To make this process hopefully more convenient, we now offer reenrollment online through RenWeb.Reenroll Now
Please remember Westminster with your end of the year giving. This would be a good time to start making progress on your pledges for the building campaign. I would also ask that if you have not made a pledge or if you think you could do more than you pledged, we would be honored if you would. Currently, we have raised $2,220,000 in pledges and gifts. Because of changes in the project, we are going need another $300,000. Any help would be appreciated. Please click here to pledge a donation.Donate Online
And please never cease to pray for Westminster. As Mr. Herring explained, God is the initiator of excellence. May we pursue Christ as He pursues us.
Head of School
As you fill out the reenrollment form, I want you to think about the question of “Church Membership.” This question is not perfunctory. When Westminster was founded, the expectation was that our community would be a community of Christians. The expectation was not that we would police the community or become intrusive. Instead, we simply ask that you are a member in good standing of an evangelical church. This is important to us. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.