When I graduated in 2008, I wondered if I would ever find myself back at Caldwell Academy. Class reunions, basketball games, and visiting my younger siblings were distinct possibilities, but would I send my own children when the time came? My thought was if I could provide them with the same experience I had, I wouldn’t hesitate.
I began Kindergarten with 16 other students in Mrs. Ellis' class when Caldwell started on Rehobeth Church Road in 1995. My memories abound of the lifelong friendships that started 26 years ago, not to mention a lifelong love of learning. Over the next 13 years, I watched Caldwell grow and transform as my own transformation took place simultaneously. Now, another 13 years have passed since I walked across the stage in the Founder's Hall gymnasium, and I get to say I am a Caldwell parent of a Transitional Kindergartner… and what a blessing it is!
I recently spoke with a fellow alum and we mused about how old we feel now that we are the parents and our children are the Caldwell students. It prompted me to reflect on all my years as a student growing up through the Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric schools. Much could be written about the Caldwell experience as a student. Everything from studying with exchange students, to reading the Odyssey in Latin, winning the cross country conference championship, to collecting bugs for the 9th Grade insect project. At Caldwell I was known, both by my classmates and my teachers. This was certainly in part due to the smaller class sizes, but more so by the culture cultivated by the staff. Teachers and administrators believed in and valued me, and it was clear their work was more than just a job.
More importantly, Caldwell teachers did not just care about my academic growth and coaches cared about more than skills. There was a genuine desire for me to know Jesus and grow in my love of Him. At Caldwell, I was equipped to walk with Him for the rest of my life. Seeds were sown that are still deepening their roots today.
There were many, but one of my more impactful spiritual experiences was my involvement in a newly-formed small group led by faculty. The intentionality teacher put into that time shaped me. At the end of my time with the group I received Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest" with a personal note and prayer that I would continue to learn and grow in my love for Jesus. I still have it and read it to this day. During my time in college ministry, I continued to do this same thing with the college students I discipled. Caldwell provided me with life-long relationships, an appreciation for thinking critically, and a framework to become a lifelong follower of Christ.
I am confident I am a better husband and father because of my time at Caldwell, and it is such a privilege to send my children back to the school that shaped me so profoundly. I didn't think we would ever be back in Greensboro with the opportunity to raise our children in partnership with Caldwell. After serving on staff with Cru at the University of South Carolina in Columbia for eight years, we had the opportunity to come home. Prior to our move, we often discussed Christian education for our boys, and I was continually comparing our options down there with my time at Caldwell. When the Lord moved our family to Greensboro a year ago, however, we were thrilled to learn of Caldwell's TK program. We enrolled our oldest, James, confident this would fit him so well.
His experience, and ours as his parents, has been better than we could have imagined. Even in the midst of a pandemic with all its challenges, Caldwell has felt like returning home. I’ve never seen a child so eager to go to school from the minute he wakes up. He's even disappointed when he realizes it's the weekend and has to wait until Monday to go back. He calls his classmates his “brothers” and adores Mrs. Burgess and Mrs. Bernard. They have instilled in him such a love of learning. We recognize we are in a partnership with Caldwell to develop our son’s spiritual, academic, and social self. It has been a delight to see how Caldwell develops him as a whole student, just as I experienced myself more than a decade ago.
Evidenced by how valued and cared for James has felt, the mission at Caldwell has stayed the same. We look forward to watching our children grow through the Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric schools, and are so grateful to be here. It is only fitting to say, “Soli Deo Gloria.”