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Trust and Risk are at Heart of Education at the Presbyterian School

By S. Mathur

This may seem like an unlikely combination, but both trust and risk find a place in the mission and founding objectives of the Presbyterian School in Houston TX. The School's mission is "Family, School, and Church united in the education and support of each Child."

Headmaster, Dr. Mark Carleton explains that "At the heart of the School's mission is the core belief of trust- that is, there is an implicit trust that exists in the bond that unites us, and there is an explicit trust that exists in the aspiration that Family, School and Church can work together for the sake and advancement of our children. We believe in a climate and a culture rooted in trust."

At the other end of the spectrum, risk finds a place in the founding objectives of the school: "To help children develop a positive sense of self-confidence, self-worth, and security so that they will be able to stand up for what they believe and take risks throughout their lives." Carleton believes that like trust, "Risk is at the heart of education."

If we are willing to let our children (and ourselves) stretch and push then, along the way, we will come to appreciate that, by accepting the challenges of going too far, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, we discover how very far we can go. We believe in a climate and a culture that embraces and encourages taking developmentally appropriate risks."

The goal of education then is not to smooth out the path of life, but to teach children how to face difficulties and challenges; as Carleton puts it, "preparing the child for the path rather than preparing the path for the child." Eliminating the possibility of failure also eliminates the chance to learn, grow, and to assert the autonomy of the individual. The third core belief of the school is to strive to achieve a personal best in every situation.

The School is located in Houston's vibrant Museum District and students have access to all the cultural riches of the area. The independent day school currently enrolls 540 children ranging in age from 3 years old to the 8th grade. The core curriculum includes Art, Chapel, Library, Music, Science, Spanish, Technology, Athletics and Physical Education. There is a strong emphasis on sports with Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Swimming, Wrestling, Golf, Lacrosse and Track & Field teams. Students also have the chance to participate in service learning projects and community events.

Religion plays an important part in the students' overall experience. The purpose of the school is to provide a "Christ-centered learning environment in which the total family will experience support and growth." Students are encouraged to develop a sense of responsibility "in relation to God, to others, to the world in which they live, and, ultimately, to themselves."

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