Our Faculty

The potential greatness of a school comes down to whom it enrolls and whom it employs. Curriculum, philosophy of education, and mission statements are all important, but they do not matter if the school doesn’t have excellent teachers and students who want to learn.  

Examine your teachers

It is incumbent upon parents to examine their child’s teachers, to see that they are fit to subcontract the parents’ Biblical obligations to train up their children.  Many parents say that their child has a great teacher, but what they often mean is he has a nice teacher. Being nice is a prerequisite to being a great teacher, but that is hardly sufficient.

What is a great teacher?

Stephen Wilkins’ friend and mentor Ian Coddling says a good teacher is one who has something to say and the ability to say it.  A teacher must have a substantial quantity and quality of knowledge to guide children in their studies.  A teacher who has nothing to offer other than the textbook content is not going to inspire his students.  For example, in a history lesson, children are much more engaged when the teacher can step aside from the text and tell the stories in his own words, stories that aren’t even in the text.  Students are gripped when a teacher can give examples of the way some biblical principle has worked out in her own life.  It is important that teachers love their subjects, because that love is passed down to their students.  In the independent learner classroom, a teacher needs that knowledge base to ask the right questions and to point children in the right direction in their studies. The first question we ask a teacher candidate is, “What are the most important books you have read, and what have you read this past year?”  It is disappointing to often find that many teacher applicants haven’t read anything meaningful since college. And given the state of education, especially in college education departments, many candidates didn’t read anything meaningful at college, either.

“Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the “naturals,” the ones who somehow know how to teach.”

Peter Drucker

Austrian-American educator and author

Teaching is an art or a gift; either you have it or you don’t. As with artists, it is very hard to quantify what makes a teacher good, but we know good art when we see it and we know good teaching when we see that. Michelangelo probably gained something from his art teacher, but he was going to be great regardless. Someone else could have received years of instruction from Michelangelo’s teacher, yet never became an artist of any kind. In most schools, teachers are evaluated from a list of observations about the teacher. But a much more accurate assessment is to observe the class. Are they engaged or not?  Are they on the edge of their seats, or slouched in boredom? Are their hands raised to join the conversation, or to escape to the bathroom?

Certification of teachers

If we were looking at two similar teacher candidates and one had state teacher certification and the other had a degree in almost anything besides education, we would choose the latter. There are great teachers who have government certification, but they are great teachers despite their certification. We would prefer that they had studied almost anything else. University education departments are a world of ideas that have been failing students for generations.  

Our team

Our starting faculty consists of just one teacher, Stephen Wilkins, who has been in education since 1991, three years as a fourth grade teacher, and twelve more as a principal.

Stephen Wilkins

Steve double-majored in business management and computer science in college.  In his senior year he started tutoring Intro to Computer Science students who were under the instruction of an ineffective but very demanding professor. His little business grew very quickly from one friend desperately needing help to a classroom full of students seeking help. Two things happened at that time that convinced him he needed to become a teacher: one, the joy of seeing the light go in his friends’ eyes, and two, those same friends insisting that he change his major to teaching. He had other things he wanted to do after graduation, but he knew he would eventually go back and pick up a fifth-year teaching certificate from the state of California. Eventually he also returned for a Master’s degree in education. The vast majority of his education, though, has been self-taught. He has read voraciously and broadly, since he was young.

Steve has been married for thirty-five years to Cindy Wilkins.  He is father to two grown daughters and has two, soon to be three, grandchildren.  The Wilkins have been members of Christ Church Presbyterian in Mount Pleasant for over seven years.