Sharing Your Gifts
Let me tell you a story…
It’s about a boy from a wonderful family with parents who dreamed about a better future for their children. Though the family didn’t have a lot of money, the parents believed in the importance of education as a way to change their children’s lives. While they couldn’t afford a private education, they made sure to live in neighborhoods that offered high-quality schools, and the young boy flourished under the care of supportive, enthusiastic teachers. The young boy studied hard, excelled in his classes, and eventually went to a good university. Armed with the knowledge he’d accumulated in various classrooms over the years, he wrote a novel at nineteen and another at twenty-two. Years later, still drawing on the education that had changed his life, just as his parents had dreamed, he wrote a novel entitled The Notebook.
Education changed my life, and the education I received growing up prepared me for the world I’d face in the future.
Flash forward a few years to when my own children were beginning their educations, and I remembered how well I’d been prepared. Nonetheless, I took a moment to consider how much the world had changed since I was young—the stunning technological advances, the increasing dynamics of globalization, and the rapid growth in local communities of those who speak a language other than English. I began to wonder whether schools were preparing my children for the world they would be facing. I began to read—and study—everything I could about education. I talked to experts and asked a lot of questions. Slowly but surely I began to realize that my children were receiving pretty much the same education that I had more than a quarter century before. An education that, I further realized, hadn’t changed much since the 1950s—a period when General Motors was the largest company in the world, both Europe and the Far East were still recovering from the ravages of World War II, and America faced little competition abroad.
Where was the use of technology as a teaching and learning tool? Where was the fluency program? Where was the educational philosophy that underscored understanding the world as critical to success? Where were the skills I myself had to use in my daily life, like creativity, curiosity, adaptability, discipline, perseverance, or motivation? I looked for schools—any schools in the entire country—that were doing everything right. The only ones I found were private schools, and most of them were very expensive, far beyond the means of most families.
That didn’t sit right with me. Why should only children from wealthy families receive the kind of education that all children deserved? It wasn’t fair, and I knew it.
My wife, Cathy, and I realized then that if we wanted to do the right thing for young people, we’d have to start our own school, one that emphasized the humanities as well as math, science, engineering, and technology. A school that offered a fully comprehensive program of global studies that included the goal of fluency and numerous educational opportunities abroad, with a culture that introduced students to the world beyond our borders. A school that stressed skills like critical thinking, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, motivation, and perseverance. We wanted all the extracurricular activities students have come to expect. Significantly, and perhaps our greatest challenge of all, we wanted to do it all at the lowest tuition level possible.
We weren’t sure it could even be done. There were no models out there to follow; no schools attempted to do all that we envisioned. And yet we went ahead, essentially starting from scratch. Trustees, administrators, and faculty sifted through data and information, looking for ideas and programs. We vetted potential global partners, learned what other schools were doing well – and what they weren’t – and in the end, we helped design and implement a cutting edge curriculum and programs.
And we succeeded. We implemented a rigorous college-preparatory program with 21st-century skills and a global studies program unlike any other in the country, and families began flocking to the school, boosting enrollment every year. Like all new ventures, there were mistakes along the way. When you start down an unknown, unexplored path, occasional wrong turns are inevitable. But at the school, we adapted and learned from our mistakes. We improved. We tried new ideas, keeping the ones that worked and dismissing the others. Slowly but surely, The Epiphany School of Global Studies has become all that my wife, Cathy, and I originally envisioned it to be.
And now, I’m asking for your help in supporting the school. Cathy and I have poured our heart and soul—and substantial financial resources—into proving that a school can prepare students for life in the 21st century, but there’s more to do. If you believe—as I do—that education is critical in young people’s lives, then you also realize that supporting The Epiphany School of Global Studies is one of the most effective ways to help improve the quality of education in your own community.
How is that possible? Because of our success, the school is committed to becoming even more of a working “think tank,” a laboratory where educational ideas are tested in real-world settings, then evaluated, modified, and perfected. We already test products and programs; we partner with organizations, companies, and nonprofits in ways that other schools can’t, always striving for improvement. It’s our hope that we’ll eventually be able to share this accumulated store of information with other schools, at educational conferences, and through other educators. It’s an investment of sorts: By supporting the school now, you will ideally be supporting educational improvement in other places as well.
Founder and Chairman of the Board
The Epiphany School of Global Studies