Regents is Oxford’s classic education choice
In ancient Greece it was believed education’s purpose was to nourish the soul.
At Regents School of Oxford, a Gospel-centered, classically-driven curriculum combines for a unique environment of more than 180 students.
The school is a throwback to the way humans were taught for 2,000 years. The mindset here is that education has shifted to a focus on getting a job instead of being a thinker.
“We get to pull a curtain back and let kids see behind the curtain every single day. Most windows with curtains – when you pull them back – you see the light behind them,” said Michael Johnson, D. Min., the school’s headmaster. “We’re using Homer, Cicero and Thucydides and all those classic authors to reveal Jesus. That’s what we’re doing here, so that kids can see Him through math and science, or literature.”
Launched in 2000 on the grounds of the old College Hill Academy, just across the road from the historic College Hill Presbyterian Church, Regents now includes pre-kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. The school recently had its first graduating class.
A non-denominational school, Regents is nationally accredited by the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS). Subjects the students receive in heavy doses include Latin, logic, rhetoric, physics and calculus.
Johnson, 55, admits that his school may not always be the best solution for a child. There is an intense screening process for each prospective student.
“We just think that kids are capable of a lot more than we’re asking them to do,” Johnson said. “We want to keep standards very high. We believe that children, when they’re taught properly, want that rather than run from that.
“I don’t want to put a child in a place where they’re not going to be successful. I don’t love a child if I admit everybody who comes in, regardless of the academic performance. I’d just be trying to get another $6,000 in the door. I just can’t do that to that kid.”
A former Rebel baseball pitcher who graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1980, Johnson started his ministry career at North Oxford Baptist Church in the early 80s. He also taught Greek at the university during that decade.
After a career in ministerial education, he came back to Oxford two years ago from Westminster Academy in Memphis, a fellow ACCS member.
Regents is certainly a unique educational alternative in the Oxford area.
“Modern education has stripped subjects away from each other,” Johnson explained. “Classical education wants to show people how to think from a cross-discipline perspective, to see that literature, history, math and science are all interrelated. That’s the way human beings learn. But what we’ve done – we’ve so stripped them apart that when a kid goes to math class, he or she thinks it has nothing to do with science. How sad.”
Just glimpsing at the first grade course load, one might mistake it for the plan of a college student: a study of Robert Louis Stevenson poems, early American history, math, writing and even the memorization of nine Bible verses.
But the 25-member faculty isn’t all about just having intense classwork. There are field trips mixed in, as well as extracurricular activities such as chess and drama.
Brady Williamson is the newest faculty member. He replaces Tasha Fennell as the school’s fourth athletics director. The owner of Cross Fit and a 1999 University of Mississippi graduate, the 37-year-old father of two Regents students hopes to expand the Lions’ sport offerings.
Swimming, cross-country, tennis, boy’s golf, basketball and archery are among the current sports. Look for lacrosse and fencing to be added soon. Football was a one-year experiment a few years back, and that sport isn’t likely to reappear.
“I want to be a resource for the coaches that are established and on the right track and be the coach in some of the sports that are needed,” Williamson said.
Regents is currently prepping for another big school year to commence on Aug. 25, and there are slots available in some of the grades. Interested parents can visit regentsofoxford.org to learn more.
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