The first question we asked ourselves when we established Abelard in 1997 was what type of school we would be happy to attend ourselves. It was surprisingly simple to come up with a consensus: a school which above and beyond all else fostered a love of knowledge and learning, and would feed the innate curiosity of the students and introduce them to the most remarkable accomplishments and discoveries of humankind. A school which taught Latin and Greek, art and philosophy, in which mathematics and science were key to understanding and bettering the world, and in which the greatest works of literature provided the inspiration to a new generation of thinkers and writers. A school, in short, which valued the life of the mind. It had to be academically rigorous: we wanted our curriculum to train the best-educated new thinkers of a generation. But it had to be a place in which this training was a joyful exercise, not a dull pursuit of a finite end.
We’re extremely proud that we’ve created such a school. By the end of their senior year, our students haven’t just read Homer and Virgil, they’ve translated passages from the original. They haven’t simply read a few good books and learned how to write an essay, they’ve studied and written sophisticated critical analyses of many of the greatest works of English literature, including To the Lighthouse, Moby Dick, Waiting for Godot and Ulysses. In philosophy class they haven’t just read a textbook or the novel Sophie’s World, they’ve studied epistemology, metaphysics and ethics in primary texts by philosophers from antiquity to the present day. Our French students speak fluently and read and discuss novels and plays in the original. Our mathematics and computer science students regularly win national and international awards. Many of our creative writing students have completed novels, plays and sophisticated collections of poetry and metrical verse. Our science students have been given an advanced and sophisticated foundation in physics, chemistry and biology, and regularly impress the university professors who visit our school as being even more knowledgeable than many of their own students.
We are so proud of our students: of how they meet the demands of our exacting curriculum, of how they display remarkable commitment to their own studies and compassion for those around them. We’re proud of the way in which they use the skills they’ve acquired to create new paradigms of their own. They make us proud when we overhear them talking about Sophocles in the hallways, speaking to each other in Latin or French or Russian or some peculiar combination of all three at lunchtime, or discussing Fermat’s last theorem while they wait for the elevator. When we hear laughter coming from the classrooms and know that it’s because someone has made a clever pun or quoted Oscar Wilde, we’re very happy. As teachers, we are completely invested in our students. Our first goal is and has always been to provide our students with the type of education that will motivate and guide them throughout their lives. We hope and believe that we do so.
We started the Abelard school eighteen years ago because we love to teach, we’re passionate about our disciplines, and we want to live and work in an environment in which knowledge and its acquisition are transformative. We want the world to be a better place, and we think that by giving our students the remarkable education we offer we are not only handing them the tools to construct that world, but inspiring them to do so.