Whole Person Development – The Essence of Subiaco Academy

The essence of the educational pursuits at Subiaco Academy is whole person development of the students who are enrolled at the institution. This concept refers to the holistic advancement of an individual’s personality and behavior in various situations as well as knowledge and skill acquisition. Today, junior and senior high schools are being asked to provide their pupils with technological and entrepreneurial insights to prepare them for successful lives in a complex and ever-changing world. There is pressure to ensure 21st century academic and professional skills are synthesized by the time a student graduates from high school, hence the need for advancing complete student proficiency. Successful whole person development takes place at the intersection and the integration of the curricular and co-curricular programming of the institution.

The curricular emphasis of an institution is critically important when focusing on whole person development. A liberal arts-focused course of study is defined by more than just the pursuit of knowledge. Character and personality formation, effective communication, leadership growth, and appreciation of difference are some of the traits that are associated with this model. A liberal arts education is about learning to bring multiple perspectives to complex problems and issues and using critical thinking skills to solve them. The philosophical construct of this educational template is to prepare individuals to live in a free society and to foster constructive citizenship. Teaching students to live a life of service and to develop spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being are desired outcomes of this academic paradigm and are reflective of the mission here at Subiaco.

The co-curricular life of a school presents many opportunities for student growth and maturation. As the son of a Princeton-educated high school vocal teacher, I was raised with a deep appreciation and respect for the performing arts. I gained wisdom through my participation on the stage. Confidence, composure, and courage were life lessons earned through these co-curricular opportunities. Involvement in athletics also developed many competencies during my years in school. Athletes are judged and teams evaluated every time they play. Students are often confronted with failure and disappointment while pursuing their passions in the athletic arena. Commitment, dedication, teamwork and problem solving are just a few of the positive outcomes that are experienced on a daily basis. The residential component of our institution also presents learning opportunities as our students are confronted with sharing our spaces and programs with a diverse population which will serve them well as they mature.

Curricular learning goals are common, but during the research phase of a recently completed doctoral dissertation, I discovered that many institutions lack an explicitly stated framework for knowledge objectives in their out-of-classroom programs. Intentionality of outcomes in co-curricular programming can have a tremendous impact on students in any educational environment. Establishing co-curricular learning goals and assessing the effectiveness of these programs will help to legitimize the educational benefit of these institutional elements in a similar fashion as classroom evaluation. Utilizing knowledge and experience, we at Subiaco Academy will put theory to practice by focusing on each student’s strengths. As classroom teachers and administrators of high quality out-of-class programming we will focus on growing each student graciously to manhood through exceptional whole person development. The intersection and integration of the curricular and co-curricular program is where this culture produces students who thrive. This is the essence of our school.

Jesus: Our model for loving others

At Subiaco Academy, we have four values that we focus on: Faith, Scholarship, Character, and Brotherhood. Our mission is to see Christ in each student as we guide him in his response to God, aid the development of his known and hidden talents, and foster his growth into manhood. To bring our values to life and live out this critical mission, I believe we should focus on the example that Jesus Christ gave us during his time on earth. He taught us to have faith, hope, and love, and expressed that the greatest of these was to love. For many, the idea of loving each other can be uncomfortable to consider, so let’s spend a few minutes leaning into our discomfort.

Before we can pursue a life modeled after Christ and filled with the love for others, we should examine what it means to love, especially the way Jesus taught us.

Jesus Christ is the complete illustration of our Heavenly Father’s love for others. He is our great teacher and he provided the blueprint for how to live out our lives. The concepts of loving one another (John 13:34) and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) were perfectly demonstrated by Jesus. He has commanded us, his followers, to replicate his great example.

Love has many meanings and for us in this community I think it is important to separate love as a feeling and love as behavior. After all, sometimes in our daily interaction we find it hard to like one another other, never mind to love each other. Seeing love as a verb (our actions) and not a noun (our feelings) might help to solidify Christ’s example of love for our daily interactions with other humans.

Love defined in English dictionaries conjures up the human expression of feelings, namely affection, strong attachment, and attraction. This is most likely manifested in thoughts of family members loving each other or romantic involvement with someone else.

The ancient Greeks identified six definitions of love, but it was one known as agape, or divine love, that most closely aligns with the love that Christ calls us to emphasize in our daily lives. This love calls us to extend ourselves, to behave in ways that lift others up instead of tearing them down.

How should my life reflect my relationships and the pursuits of the love that Christ has modeled? If a person is walking with God on the inside, then their life (words, decisions, and actions) should reflect a distinct character on the outside.

Interestingly enough, there is a common bible passage that is read at many wedding ceremonies. After researching the concept of loving one another as a verb, I think we should consider these scripture verses in our regular and everyday lives.

1st Corinthians chapter 13 – the first 8 versus: If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

As we hear and contemplate these words describing love, let us act out their meaning by thinking of love as a verb – how do our actions toward others reflect the teachings and lessons of Jesus Christ. Instead of thinking of love in the romantic sense, let’s practice love for each other by listening, having compassion, being respectful, and practicing encouragement.

This type of love is a service to others and brings glory to God. May God bless you in your pursuit of an extraordinary and fulfilling life. Onward Trojans!