Academy Culture: Cultivating Mind, Body, and Spirit

My favorite short film is called “The Butterfly Circus.” This film, set during the Great Depression, is a story of a renowned circus troupe traveling around America to lift the spirits of audiences along the way. The plot centers particularly on one man – a limbless man named Will. He meets the ringmaster of The Butterfly Circus as others are mocking him in the side show of another circus. The ringmaster, on the other hand, calls Will “magnificent.” When Will inquires about being part of the side show of The Butterfly Circus, the ringmaster explains that they don’t have one, saying: “There’s nothing inspiring about a man’s imperfections on display. We run a different kind of show.” All the performers in The Butterfly Circus had come from places of despair, but they had found hope and a purpose when given an opportunity to be in an environment where they could thrive. The culture of The Butterfly Circus changed their perception of the world and their place in it.

At the Academy, we also aim to “run a different kind of show.”

Our mission statement is “A Classical Christian Culture Growing Mind, Body and Spirit.” I’ve spent much time on this blog focused on the Classical Christian components of what we do. But this month I want to focus on our school culture and our commitment to growing mind, body, and spirit. All three C’s: classical, Christian, and culture inform one another. And yet, what makes up Academy Culture is much more than the sum of these parts.

Culture affects those within it.

Culture is more than simply the characteristics of a group of people, their social habits, traditions, shared language, etc. Culture is not neutral; it negatively or positively affects those within it. We aim for Academy Culture to be an environment encompassed by the love of Jesus in which students and their families can thrive and grow. In fact, the word “culture” originally derives from the Latin word “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, cultivate or nurture.

The Academy community is diverse in many ways; Academy culture, however, is single-mindedly working to cultivate and nurture the growth of the minds, bodies, and spirits of our students. Beyond that, we seek to be a safe place of growth for our families and all who come through our doors.

Culture is like fresh air on a sunshine-filled March day: you can feel its positive effect all around you, but it’s hard to pinpoint or describe what is all working together to cause the effect. The same is true for Academy Culture; I don’t know how to explain how it all works together, but I do have some ideas of from where the source of our culture derives.

Academy Culture comes from many different sources.

Academy Culture comes from Abiding Savior church, with its commitment to biblical teaching and willingness to “scuff up some walls” to make sure its church building is being fully utilized to bring glory to God – not just on Sunday, but Monday through Friday as well. (You can also read more about how Abiding Savior’s staff lives this out here.)

Academy Culture comes from our administration, who balance the impossible task of forecasting decisions to set course as we grow with the skill of pivoting quickly as students’ and school needs change frequently.

Academy Culture comes from our teachers and aides, who daily live out their calling to invest in their students – academically, socially, and spiritually. It permeates their classrooms as they continually plant seeds of Jesus’ love and character, thereby instilling confidence, compassion, faithfulness, and humility along the way.

Academy Culture comes from our staff – custodian, receptionist, lunch director, administrative assistant, office manager, van drivers – all using their gifts to serve and to model excellence and integrity to all they encounter.

Academy Culture comes from our families’ engagement as community members who care for those around them and who are willing to step out in faith for the sake of their children’s faith.

Academy Culture comes from our students bringing their personalities to the classroom every day, being teachable, honoring and respecting each other from the youngest to the oldest, and humbly practicing the skills they are learning.

We are cultivating growth of mind, body, and spirit.

Like the ringmaster of The Butterfly Circus, we recognize that the students who enter our doors are each already “magnificent” in their own special ways. Our job as a Classical Christian school is to cultivate and nurture who the Lord created them to be – in mind, body, and spirit.

Elise Knobloch

Elise serves on the Abiding Savior Academy School Board, teaches logic, and serves as our Communications Coordinator. She has a master’s degree in persuasive writing, a juris doctorate, and is the author of Enough: Finding Abundant Life in a World Striving for More. Her greatest teachers, however, are her husband and their four children.She is blessed to practice what she’s learning about Christ’s love daily with her family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota