Truth Twisters or Truth Seekers?

Anna Carrington

Truth. Goodness. Beauty. These three words appear in Latin on Morning Star’s school seal, and our desire for our students is that they will seek Truth, Goodness, and Beauty — and find them! Where should the search begin? What do we mean by each of these words, and why do they appear together? Our spring blog series will take us on a tour.

In the classical era, Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato conversed and wrote about the nature of reality. They held that there were ideals “beyond” human experience and existence; ideals to which humans must conform in order to properly flourish. These ideals were “cosmic”— over and around all the created world that humans could observe. In the Christian tradition, these ideals are identified with the mind of God — what he thinks about things and how he has defined the truth of all things. 

Christians discover the unity of these cosmic ideals in the person of Jesus Christ — in Greek, the Logos. Colossians 1:17 declares, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Christians can proclaim that Jesus himself is True, Good, and Beautiful!

In this post, let’s look more deeply at Truth. At the most recent in-service day, Pastor Chuck Rennie spoke to Morning Star faculty about the nature of Truth and posed the question: Is Truth whatever I conform to my thinking … or is Truth something to which my thinking must conform? He explained:

1)      If Truth is whatever I conform to my thinking, then I am the subject. (The subject would be the “actor”— ask your Grammar student for a quick lesson!) And if I am the subject, then the Truth is subjective. It emerges from my personal identity or values. My truth shows itself through my self-expression. So I can twist it.

2)      If Truth is something to which my thinking must conform, then it is based in the truth of the object being observed. It is objective. Truth derives from something outside myself. It corresponds to some greater reality; it is not constructed to make reality. So I can seek it.

But wait … There’s an exception! God is the Subject, and the nature of reality does in fact conform to his thinking. Subjectivism is God’s prerogative alone. All of the created order is an outworking of the Mind of the Maker. It is patterned after his own thinking, and it is presented to us — men and women made in his image — to discover and enjoy. Christians would say he creatively conformed the cosmos to the Truth of his own thinking. This is why Truth is referred to as a “transcendental.” Because it is an essential aspect of all things, the truth of all things is able to point us to the Transcendent One who created all things.

How does one discover and enjoy objective Truth? Through cultivating moral and intellectual virtues — a central goal of classical Christian education. Virtuous students will exhibit, for example, humility, patience, and courage in their search for the Maker’s reality. Virtues are not only “right-thinking”; they are the right-ordering of what a person desires. We are called by our Maker to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12 and Deuteronomy 6).

Classical Christian education is built on these foundations: Truth is objective. Our existence is grounded in a Truth beyond us. We can discover Truth … and love it above everything else! Children are formed (or malformed) by their education. Are we raising up Truth twisters or Truth seekers?

Want to go a little deeper? Look for our next two blog posts on Goodness and Beauty, and consider reading Stephen Turley, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It’s a short book that unpacks Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in a way that keeps them all connected. The Morning Star library has a copy.

Advent: Content to Enjoy the Wait

By Vallarie Fendley

Our hearts are filled with longing and expectancy as we await Christmas day, when we will celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. This coming season of joy is preceded by a time of waiting: Advent. During this season,we prepare our hearts for the coming of our King. 

As a child, my family would buy boxes with pieces of chocolate inside them for each day of Advent. Now we celebrate by reading a short devotional each night after dinner. Last year, I also read a devotional on my Bible app with a traditional Christmas hymn for each day of waiting. All of this was done to prepare our family’s hearts for Christmas and for Jesus.

Excitement for Christ’s birth is normal and we encourage it! This excitement should be contained however, and not turned into impatience. Joy will come with time. The beauty of waiting rests in knowing there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. That light of course is Christ. We cannot fully enjoy Him without the proper waiting period. We will enjoy Him much more if we wait and see the beauty of His light revealed, piece by precious piece. 

Growing up, wondering what would lie under the Christmas tree always excited me. Sometimes, it was too exciting and it was very easy to slip into impatience! As I have gotten older, it has become easier to be content in waiting for the big day, though I am still delighted to receive presents. 

During junior year at Morning Star, one of my assignments was to write a soliloquy similar to Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech. The soliloquy I wrote was titled “To be content or not to be content.” This assignment helped me to remember that waiting is good because it teaches contentment. This contentment is not automatically the product of waiting however. Contentment requires focusing on God and praising Him, not only in waiting, but in all circumstances. Each year, as I grow closer to this goal of being content while waiting, Advent becomes an even more enjoyable season. 

This year as we celebrate Advent, we can look forward to the light of Christ’s birth while also being content to wait. This patience will make the event of Christmas even more joyful. And we can do this together! We can encourage one another to be content while we prepare ourselves for this joy that is set before us. 

Vallarie Fendley is a senior at Morning Star Academy, where she participates in volleyball, drama, and chapel band. Val enjoys singing, playing piano, baking, biking, and serving others.

“The Golden Sessions”: Repairing the Ruins Conference 2022

Brenda Porter

In June, several members of the Morning Star community traveled to Dallas to participate in the Repairing the Ruins conference, an annual event that brings together educators from all over the United States. The conference includes practical workshops and plenary sessions led by teachers and leaders from the world of classical Christian education. 

Attendees from Morning Star included first grade teacher Mrs. Lori King, sixth grade teacher Mrs. Heather Karl, Latin and music teacher Mrs. Joanie Mercy, English teacher Mrs. Brenda Porter, fifth grade teacher Mrs. Angie Walters, Board member Mr. John Walters, and Head of School Mrs. Elisa Wingerd. We met at the airport on a Wednesday afternoon, grateful for the opportunity to deepen our knowledge about classical Christian education and excited about the chance to experience Texas together. We were especially blessed by the presence of John and Angie, Texas natives, who served as excellent guides for our trip.

Our first full day in Dallas began with a coffee stop at Starbucks and this quickly became a morning tradition! Once registered for the conference, we hustled to the packed main meeting hall for the plenary session on “The Necessity of Cultural Engagement” by classical Christian pioneer Douglas Wilson. Wilson noted that there are several ways of framing how Christians should interact with culture. He encouraged us to remain committed to engaging with the culture we inhabit rather than accommodating ourselves to it or fortifying ourselves away from it.

Further, Wilson argued that a key purpose of the classical Christian school is to prepare students for cultural engagement by equipping them to think biblically about the world. Last fall, Morning Star faculty read and studied Beyond Biblical Integration by Dr. Roger Erdvig, and Wilson’s lecture underscored the key takeaway of our book study: The development of a Christian worldview is not just one component of the education we provide; it is the central, vital truth that illuminates all areas of study. 

Following Wilson’s lecture, our group split up to attend workshops specific to our disciplinary interests. We reunited to enjoy lunch and dinner together each day, and from Chuy’s Tex-Mex to Texas Barbecue, we made it our goal to enjoy delicious food! The topics of our meal-time conversations were as varied as the conference sessions we attended. Some workshops addressed the philosophical—meaning and purpose, beauty and aesthetics, leisure and play, authority and truth. Others provided practical advice on pedagogy—using review games, creating classroom culture, planning purposefully, assessing orally. All of it was up for discussion, and each person added a unique voice and perspective.

Having the leisure time to enjoy these kinds of conversations is rare in the teaching profession. We spend most of our days in the company of our students, with limited opportunities to interact with colleagues. So while the workshops and sessions inspired and educated, those moments in between—coffee, lunch, rides in the mini-van to restaurants—were precious. They helped us to know one another better and heightened our respect and appreciation for each other.

In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis writes this about friendship:

“[E]ach member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day’s walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life—natural life—has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?”  

Though he is here referring to longstanding relationships between old friends, I think his words are also true of our conference fellowship and conversation. In fact, when our Saturday flights back to the Quad Cities were cancelled, the inconvenience was an unexpected blessing. We spent our final evening on the rooftop of a hotel, enjoying cheesecake, conversation, and the last light of a golden Texas sunset. Thanks be to God. 

Watch highlights from the conference and learn more about its sponsor, the Association of Classical Christian Schools.

Brenda Porter teaches English and writing at Morning Star Academy. She and her husband, Rob, are the parents of three grown daughters.

Learning to Lead: Morning Star’s Mission in Action

Neil & Brandi Anderson

Morning Star Academy’s mission is to provide a classical Christian education that teaches truth, trains disciples and equips students to transform their communities for God’s glory. We’ve been watching our children grow stronger in their faith, becoming leaders who can share and defend their faith. Here are a few ways God is answering our prayers for their education at Morning Star Academy.

Training Literate and Logical Thinkers

The Trivium—the classical progression of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric—bolsters our children’s ability to defend their faith as they become literate and logical thinkers. Our children started at Morning Star in kindergarten and our son is now a senior and our daughter is in fifth grade. The Trivium follows the natural development of a child: learning and gathering facts for younger ages; questioning those teachings to effectively argue; and finally, expressing and defending their own opinions and thoughts. 

We started to grasp the depth of our son’s Logic training when he started writing persuasive papers in seventh and eighth grade. His arguments were well-formed and his writing was articulate. His teachers have continued to provide personalized feedback to help him refine his writing—and now he is working on his capstone project: the senior thesis!

Pursuing Biblical Leadership

Morning Star’s curriculum is a perfect supplement for Christian parents who desire for faith to be woven throughout their children’s academic lives. Our children understand that we are not just Christians on Sunday but in everything we do and seek, including knowledge. As parents, we are so grateful that the Biblical truths we are teaching are not “undone” at school but rather reinforced.

These truths are applied in daily life, as Biblical principles are the backbone for leadership opportunities. Morning Star’s teachers have helped our children learn how true leadership is service. Leading well means letting others’ strengths fill in the gaps where your weaknesses may lie, offering constructive criticism to encourage growth and, above all, good leaders listen.

Deepening Discipleship at Home

Finally, Morning Star has deepened our faith together as a family. We speak easily with one another about our faith and we reference the Word when we need guidance. In our family, if there is a concern, there is prayer. When there is sadness, happiness, misunderstanding, grief, thankfulness, joy… there is prayer. As a family we have found peace in relying on God for everything. 

Another significant impact that Morning Star has had upon our family is that we are all learning from one another. The curriculum at Morning Star prompts us to ask questions that require discussion. Quite often, this results in all or some of us learning something new or gaining a new perspective! This has strengthened our bond as a family, encouraging us to listen and respond in meaningful ways to one another. 

John 4:24 says: “God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” Providing this solid base for our children is critical because we are not just “raising” our children; we are making disciples who will make disciples.

Neil and Brandi Anderson and their two children, Steel and Sophia, reside in Andalusia, Illinois. 
Neil is an Engineer for the City of Moline Fire Department and State Senator for Illinois’ 36th District. Brandi is a Respiratory Therapist and Office Account Manager for Carroll Industrial Ventilation in Andalusia. As a family they enjoy spending time with each other outdoors hunting, fishing, and camping and attending various sporting events.

Like Climbing a Ladder: Mission & Vision

As we begin another school year, Morning Star is renewing its commitment to our Mission and Vision. If you walk the halls or visit a classroom this year, you’ll see these two statements posted on the walls! Blog editor Anna Carrington sat down with Morning Star’s longest-serving Board Director, John Walters, to talk about why Mission and Vision are so important and how they come to life on our campus.

Before we get into the interview, here’s a review!

What is Morning Star Academy’s Mission?

Morning Star Academy’s Mission is to provide a classical Christian education that teaches truth, trains disciples, and equips students to transform their communities for God’s glory.

What is Morning Star Academy’s Vision?

The Vision of Morning Star Academy is to shape lives beyond a living to serve everywhere and lead anywhere.

Anna: Why is it important for us to have Mission and Vision statements?

John: The reason we have a Mission and Vision is so each one of the faculty, parents, and children at Morning Star understand “This is why we do what we do and this is why you’re learning what you’re learning.”

We can all fall into a routine: Feed our kids breakfast, drop them off at school, pick them up again and hope they learned something. Our kids are no different than we are … they ask: “Why?” We follow our Vision and Mission to consistently answer the question, “Why?”

Anna: How are Mission and Vision distinct from one another?

John: Consider the example of a ladder. If our Vision is to ‘get on the roof’, our Mission describes what we’re doing. We have to step on each rung as we get closer to where we’re going. 

As we consider the Vision, let’s keep a biblical understanding: Without a vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29). We’ve got to know where we’re going. Where are we aspiring to go? Such vision is a gift from God; it’s not something we can conjure up ourselves but something we have to pursue together, asking God for wisdom.

Anna: You have served on Morning Star’s Board of Directors for over a decade. What do you remember about crafting and/or confirming the Mission and Vision statements?

John: Both our Vision and Mission were honed in the last five years to really answer the question: What is our product when we talk about classical Christian education? What are the results we’re looking for in graduates that reflect the education they have received?

Our Board came together and specifically focused on praying and asking for God’s direction. As we honed the Mission and Vision, two emphases stood out: community and influence. We were asking questions like: how will Morning Star’s current students serve the Quad Cities collectively? And how will our graduates serve in their communities—wherever God leads them to live and work throughout their lives? Morning Star is equipping our students in some remarkable ways to influence others everywhere they go as they reflect Christ in a variety of vocations and places.

Anna: How do these actually “come to life” at the school? Can you think of an example of how Mission and Vision give clarity?

John: Our Mission and Vision are lived out every day through our school’s leadership. Mrs. Wingerd is doing a great job putting these out in front of the faculty, staff, and students. Board Directors need to be 100 percent behind these, as we are blessed with  the responsibility to lead, guide, and direct the school God has entrusted us with. There are classically trained teachers and those from other backgrounds; regardless, our phenomenal MSA staff believe in the direction we’re going, and they continue to learn and teach accordingly. Additionally, our Mission and Vision are informing our search for Morning Star’s next Headmaster!

Anna: You have seen all four of your sons graduate from Morning Star. What are you praying for as you consider Morning Star’s next 20 years?

John:  I continue to pray that Morning Star students and graduates—regardless of age, Kindergarten through married—reflect a Christlike worldview and they live it out through every opportunity God gives them. This means they talk to people the way they would want to be talked to; cry with those who are grieving; love others through a well-spoken, apt word.

Our Mission and Vision are meant to be lived out. Love your neighbor as yourself. One simple action or reaction makes a huge difference in somebody’s life … you may have no idea of your impact in that moment but it’s Christ in you (Colossians 1:27).

My wife Angie and I couldn’t be more proud of the men our sons are becoming and we have had the opportunity to see many of their classmates continue to grow as well. Morning Star is a part of that development. As parents, stick with it. I promise you, your kids’ hearts are worth it.

John Walters serves on Morning Star’s Board of Directors and his wife Angie teaches 5th grade. They are parents of four alumni!

Classical Conversations Across the Atlantic

Pam Rohde

We knew we would encounter different ways of thinking about education upon moving to Scotland for a year. What we didn’t know is how often we’d be reminded of home and the classical pedagogy we’ve grown to love. Here are three short glimpses into classical connections here in Scotland and how they helped us see the broader movement of which Morning Star is a part.

Universities are noticing the caliber of students

My husband Joel and I were at a lecturer’s house for tea earlier this spring, and he told me that the university has started sending representatives to classical school conferences because they’ve noticed that the students emerging from classical schools are well equipped for the rigors of further education. Students often demonstrate a varied skill set the classical movement nurtures including prioritizing tasks, asking meaningful questions, research, and communication.

Teachers with graduate degrees want to invest in K-12 classical schools

One of my classmates served as an officer in the U.S. military for eight years after graduating from West Point. He was recently awarded a competitive full doctoral scholarship for a Ph.D. program in philosophical theology. He’s considering teaching at a classical school when his program is complete. His reason? He sees teaching young students how to delight in thinking well as a meaningful investment of his leadership and intellectual skills. I agree with him, but I’m not the only one. I’ve met a handful of Ph.D. students considering this course.

Students are engaged in the Great Conversation

The term “the Great Conversation” is shorthand for exploring the riches of Western civilization and God’s purposes through it. An undergrad in theology I met this fall brightened when he learned I taught at Morning Star. He was a classical school graduate, and he also wanted to teach at an ACCS school. (ACCS stands for Association of Classical Christian Schools, of which Morning Star is a member.) A young woman from China studying the classics credits being homeschooled through Veritas with her love of ancient languages. A literature student who just handed in her dissertation (a defense of objective truth using Augustine) met me for coffee recently to talk about the model as she filled out an application to teach at a classical Christian school next year. Joel recently met another ACCS-bound senior at a gathering. These students are thoughtful, winsome, and would be wonderful assets to any school. I love that people who value thinking deeply about the world and the Great Conversation see the value in training younger people to do the same! 

Our family is looking forward to returning to Iowa this summer, and these connections across the Atlantic have shown us how God is working through classical Christian education.

Pam Rohde and her husband, Joel, have four children who attend Morning Star Academy. Pam has taught Bible, worldview, and art at MSA. This academic year the Rohde family took a sabbatical in Scotland while Pam pursued a master’s degree in biblical studies through the Logos Institute at St. Andrews University.

Classical Education and Family Rhythms for Discipleship

Jon & Mary Sievers

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

God gives the primary responsibility for discipling children to their parents. Choosing Morning Star Academy gives us the opportunity to be involved in our children’s day-to-day education, know their curriculum, and partner with teachers for their success as they learn to rightly order their affections during the school day. We know that the classical Christian difference is the recognition of how children are created in the image of God. Together, we are training children to rightly worship Him and engage in their community for the good of its people and the glory of God. 

How do our everyday rhythms as a family tie into our children’s education at Morning Star? 

  • Catechism – We work on memorization together as a family. We practice in the car, practice at the dinner table, and use them as a topic of conversation. Memorizing allows us to quickly recall truth, to discern what is true, and to speak truth.
  • Prayer – We have set rhythms of praying together through the day (in times of thanksgiving and sorrow alike, before a meal, as a part of the bedtime routine, as an essential part of discipline, and as we model repentance in the home). We include praying for our school community and the unfolding of their days.
  • Music – We often listen to hymns on our commute to and from school, and in the background at home. We choose music that is beautiful and that rightly worships God, praising Him for who He is. When possible, we tie this back into music they are learning at school. Songs that come to mind from our time at MSA include “In Christ Alone,” “A Mighty Fortress,” and “We Believe.”
  • Sabbath day – We gather with our church body for a time of worship together and then set out to rest and recreate. When the weather allows we aim to be outdoors on Sunday, enjoying God’s creation together. It seems impossible to take in the beauty of nature without being in awe of God’s majesty. We speak this out loud and notice that our children are learning to see the beauty in God’s creation, and be reoriented in Him for the week ahead.
  • Living in community – God created us to be in community, giving us all different spiritual gifts to be a part of His body living on mission together (1 Corinthians 12:14-16). Morning Star is a part of living in community for our family, and we continue to model the importance of that by gathering and serving in community throughout our week.
  • Serving together – We include our children in mission work monthly in the Quad Cities. Our family serves at Hope At The Brickhouse, Kings Harvest Ministries, and One Eighty Davenport.
  • Modeling repentance and forgiveness – We recognize our fallenness, acknowledging our weakness and our deep need for the Savior throughout our days. We screw up these rhythms all of the time, we find ourselves worshiping “things” instead of God, and we sin against each other and against God (Romans 3:22-24). We repent and forgive in our household. We know that our children are faced with temptation and fall short of the glory of God daily. Many times this happens within the walls of Morning Star, where we trust teachers to point back to our children’s identity in Christ. What is that identity? In Christ, they are adopted into God’s family; because of Christ’s sufficient sacrifice on the cross, they can stand pure before a holy God.

These everyday rhythms help our children rightly order their affections. This means loving things in their proper place, with an utmost love for God that results in a desire to obey. How can we desire obedience and submission to a Holy God? Because He is good and gracious. Out of His goodness He created all things and gave us dominion over them (Genesis 1:26). God’s law also comes out of His goodness and provides guidance for how we are to reflect His image for an abundant and flourishing life. 

As parents, we have the primary responsibility for training our children in the way that they should go and discipling them to humbly submit to the authority of God. A classical Christian education at Morning Star Academy is a piece of this discipleship … our children are receiving an education focused on what is good, true, and beautiful.

Jon & Mary Sievers are the parents of four children, three of them being students at Morning Star Academy. They raise their family on an acreage west of the Quad Cities. Jon is an attorney at John Deere and Mary owns a women’s boutique, Caty + Rose Market, in Bettendorf. As a family they enjoy hiking, camping, golf, and being outdoors.

Why Math is More than Useful

Rhonda Cox

“When are we ever going to use this?” This question is the bane of existence for mathematics teachers everywhere. As a precalculus and calculus teacher in public school, my response was usually something like, “Knowledge is never a waste, and this does have uses, but honestly, YOU may never use this.” 

Now, as a teacher in a classical Christian school, I have a very different reply (and an answer I always wanted to give when I was in public school): “Didn’t God make mathematics beautiful? Isn’t it amazing that we can consistently find the things we find?”

Science and mathematics give us a window to know our Creator and His creation, a way to see that God is beautiful, consistent and orderly. Colossians 1:16 tells us “that all things have been created through Him and for Him.” ALL things. This includes a mathematical system that is beautiful, consistent and orderly. Mathematics reveals God’s beauty and order. And, as we use mathematics to describe the natural world, it gives a different understanding of God’s creation. 

In Genesis 1:28 we see God’s mandate to Adam and Eve (and by extension to us): “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.” We cannot fulfill God’s command without a firm understanding of His created order, and the sciences give us tools to become good stewards of God’s creation.

But the benefits don’t stop there! One often-overlooked but beautiful feature of mathematics is its ability to give us a deeper understanding of God’s attributes. In geometry, my students read Flatland, written by Edwin A. Abbott in 1893. While the book is a satire on Victorian England, it also contains theological gems, which the author intended. Flatland uses characters who live in a world of two dimensions and a visitor from the third dimension. Their story gives us a way to discuss and better understand attributes of God like omnivident (all-seeing) and omnipresent. We also discuss passages from several C.S. Lewis books in which Lewis uses a cube to help us understand the Trinitarian nature of God. Should we be surprised that one of God’s creations, mathematics, can give us a deeper understanding of Him?

Paul says it well: “For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made” (Romans 1:20). As a Morning Star teacher, I can discover with students how the sciences are part of God’s creation–and how they allow us to “see” His invisible attributes.

Rhonda Cox teaches geometry, pre-calculus, calculus and physics at MSA. Her free time is spent cycling and swimming. She also teaches a Bible study as well as being involved in music ministry at her church.

How the Trivium Prepared Me to Be a Physician Scientist

Josh Seaberg

The work of the physician and the scientist are each beautiful and challenging in their own ways. The physician utilizes treatments to alleviate suffering on a daily basis; the scientist lives at the edge of human knowledge to expand our breadth of understanding. While each profession requires a dedicated individual with a desire to serve, the training required for each is vastly different. In medical school, students are bombarded with the sum of current medical knowledge that they must grasp to properly form a differential diagnosis and plan for treatment. Conversely, PhD students must scour the literature to find scraps of information that hint at the next step forward in their project. These training approaches foster drastically different ways of thinking: medical students become rapid memorizers of drug lists and associated symptoms while PhD students are more apt to contemplate the “why” questions and communicate their answers to the scientific community.

The Trivium prepares pupils for both these endeavors. Like medical education, Grammar school emphasizes the memorization of facts necessary to knowing reality and interacting with it. Graduate studies parallel Logic school by understanding of the processes of reasoning while simultaneously matching the Rhetoric school emphasis on synthesizing and communicating ideas. As such, the three pillars of classical education—the Trivium—provide a foundation for those going into either the medical or the scientific field—or both.

Now in the midst of both MD and PhD training, I am reminded how Morning Star’s Trivium prepared me to be here. For some, the rapid pace of content consumption in medical school is overwhelming, whereas for others the lack of concrete answers and experimental troubleshooting in graduate school can be exhausting. But when you have a foundation in Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric and have learned how to learn, no area of work or study is beyond your capabilities. The Trivium is a firm foundation for the physician, the scientist, the engineer, and any career in between.

Josh Seaberg graduated from Morning Star Academy in 2014 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University in 2018 and 2020 respectively. In 2020, Josh entered the MD/PhD program at the University of Oklahoma. Throughout undergraduate and graduate school he has authored 7 peer-reviewed scientific publications with a focus on materials science, nanotechnology, and drug delivery. In his free time he enjoys playing soccer and serving as music director for the Oklahoma City campus of People’s Church.

S.T.E.M. and Success: A Parent Interview

Blog editor Anna Carrington sat down with Julie Schroeder, a physician and mother of one MSA alumna and two current MSA seniors. All three of her children are pursuing careers in “S.T.E.M.” fields—science, technology, engineering, and math. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

There’s a lot of emphasis these days on S.T.E.M.-based education and preparing students for the modern economy. What has that looked like for your family?

My children have always been interested in engineering and the sciences. In many ways, the S.T.E.M. initiatives we see in public schools and elsewhere would have served them well—but only in a technical sense. Our experience is that students can round out their technical knowledge pretty easily at a university. They can learn how to do research in a big science lab. But Morning Star is preparing them to succeed in much deeper and richer ways as lifelong learners, collaborators, and thoughtful citizens.

Morning Star is a classical Christian school grounded in pursuing what is good, true, and beautiful. All of the subject areas encourage a deeper understanding of God’s world, how we are made in His image, and how in Christ all things hold together. Can you share an example of this from your students’ time at MSA?

My son Caleb is writing his senior thesis—a capstone requirement for all Morning Star graduates—on numeracy. He is considering how students might better appreciate the beauty of math instead of thinking of math as simply knowing and using mathematics. The roots of the word “numeracy” are numbers (or numeric) and literacy, which shows how the field is like the literacy of reading and writing.

What are some attributes you think students will need to succeed in their careers? How has Morning Star fostered these?

Two come to mind right away: 1) the ability to consider others’ perspectives and 2) working on a team.

Morning Star offers a sequence of courses that not only conveys a biblical worldview but also teaches students how to perceive and ask questions about other worldviews. The sequence starts in eighth grade with logic, continues into ninth with rhetoric, then comparative religion in tenth, worldview in eleventh, and finally senior thesis.

Students learn to hear arguments critically, identify others’ worldviews and better understand where they’re coming from. Why are they holding that view and making that particular argument? There are many applications for this skill, from understanding scientific theories to interpreting data. You could ask: How is someone interpreting the data? What are some assumptions they might have and how do they factor into their conclusions?

My sons’ class has a great dynamic that encourages discourse. Sometimes they take an opposing view just to keep the conversation going and bring out more discussion. They are learning to say to one another, “I can see where you’re coming from,” even if they might disagree. That posture will serve them well in their future careers.

You also mentioned being part of a team. Can you give me an example?

My daughter Sarah, who is now in college, played Mustang varsity girls’ basketball. The team was small and Sarah learned to be flexible and serve where she was needed each game. When she was applying for an internship recently, the supervisor asked her about her time as team captain and she was able to share those stories of perseverance and teamwork.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. What advice would you give to parents of younger students?

We are not just training students for professions, we are also training them to be discerning consumers and wise citizens. Regardless of your child’s particular interests—whether they love math, science, art, or literature—they are going to be citizens of a community and hopefully members of a local church. We’re preparing them for service in those arenas, too.

Julie Schroeder is a family medicine physician and mother of two Morning Star students and one graduate. She serves as director of Missions at Our Savior Lutheran Church and has volunteered in many ways at Morning Star over the last 15 years.