From your south campus principal, Grant Bickell
“Classical Education really has been hunting you down.” – Academy Parent
It’s true. My love of classical education, books, and discussion have all been hunting me down since a fateful Sunday morning in Wichita 5 years ago. Joy and I, with Graeme and Amelia in tow, had moved to Wichita to work for an Acts 29 church, as the Director of Family Ministries. I loved the idea that families had more influence than I ever could have and that the best way to influence them was through moms and dads that loved Scripture. Yes, and amen. Then one Sunday, everything changed. Joy and I were on the path of enrolling our son Graeme in the local public school with the hope of “redeeming public education by using our influence in the lives of those around our kids.” High hope hinging on our children being used as the carrot to dangle in front of the unsuspecting families as a way to win influence with them and to position ourselves to have intentional gospel conversations with them. So, what happened? Let me introduce you to our friend Dani.
Dani Poe was the Art teacher at Classical School of Wichita, and I was on staff at the church their family attended. Dani was consistently singing the praises of classical education and why my children needed to receive this education. I always brushed her off until I preached on Deuteronomy 6. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 likely is printed in your church’s Baby Dedication packet, maybe the passage is read at their baptism, heck, it may be on the walls of your children’s ministry wing. It (at least in the mid-2010s) was the hippest passage to define what so many churches are trying to do in their newly christened family ministry programs. As Family Ministries Director, I got up to preach on why we need parents to buy in, how you can be a part of a child’s story by volunteering, and the positive effects of relationships in a small group setting on children. At the end of my sermon, Dani made a beeline for me. I don’t know if it was prophecy or pride but she, with a smile from cheek to cheek, said, “You will be in classical education.” I shrugged it off with a laugh, but something was different. Maybe the desires for my children aligned well with what the classical model was doing.
Fast forward to late July. I had to quit my job. After a short time of prayer and external processing, I knew what had to happen. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew I was not going to be a Family Ministry Director. (I forgot to mention, Joy was 9 months pregnant with a 3- and 4-year-old at home, and we would have no income to sustain us. We’ve worked through this now but let’s say it was a tense time!) The elders announced Sunday that I would be stepping down, and low and behold guess who comes up at the end of the prayer time to greet me. Dani Poe. She quickly says, “The school still has some openings. You should apply.” I found myself the next morning pulling into the parking lot of CSW, resume in hand and my best suit coat on, hoping that she was right. The Headmaster pulled in after me and proceeded to exit his car with a look of intrigue on his face. I miraculously get an on-the-spot interview and am handed the semester finals for Pre-Calc and Algebra and told to return them promptly. I did the finals, and that Friday, I got the job. The next week I had in-service Monday through Thursday, Corinne was born Friday, and the following Wednesday, I went from being called Grant to being called Mr. Bickell and loving it. Little did I know what I had signed up for when I took that job, but let’s leave that for another week.
We are looking to hire for 2021-2022
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