Shaping Hearts with Nurture and Love

great hearts kindergartner and teacherA question often asked of our Lower Schools is, “Will my child feel loved and nurtured at Great Hearts?” It’s a fair question. With the academic rigor, traditional uniforms, and high expectations that are attributed to a Great Hearts education, some parents fear their children will experience a strict and cold environment. This could not be further from the heart, soul, and philosophy that you will find here.

Our purpose at Great Hearts is to cultivate the minds and hearts of students through the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. As a leading provider in classical education, we are known for cultivating our scholars’ minds. However, our devotion to the formation of their hearts is equally fundamental. Through Socratic instruction, our teachers are developing a love of learning and a desire to seek Truth. Through classical works of art, whether poetry or paintings on the wall, our teachers are imparting the appreciation for beauty in the world. And, through modeling virtue, our teachers are guiding students’ hearts toward goodness. Great Hearts exists to shape minds and hearts – not just intellect.

Charlotte Mason, a British educator and reformer in England at the turn of the twentieth century, wrote, “If a human being were a machine, education could do more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems. But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being, and his business is to guide, and assist in, the production of the latent good in that being, the dissipation of the latent evil, the preparation of the child to take his place in the world at his best, with every capacity for good that is in him developed into a power.”

Everyone can agree that teaching is not an easy job. But the work of leading students is, above all, an act of love. As our teachers interact with students, their goal is to foster the individual growth of virtuous habits in the heart and mind of the student.

Aristotle once said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

“This quote by Aristotle sheds light on how we manage our classroom each year,” said Renee Woinarowicz and Sydney Howard, who co-lead a kindergarten class. “Students must first know and feel that they are loved before they are willing to dive into true learning. We begin the year by asking parents what their child’s love language is or sharing a personality quiz to get to know each child a little better. Once we know how a student receives love we can better pour into them.”

Our teachers understand that developing and nurturing trusting relationships with students is central to building a learning environment. Learning in an environment where trust has not been established is superficial at best. We cannot build character and human excellence without this foundation.

Woinarowicz and Howard understand the importance of showing care and connection before their students even enter their classroom. “We start each day by standing at the threshold of our classroom door and each student gets a personal good morning greeting with us and gets to choose a handshake, high five, or a hug. Starting a school day with this connecting time is so important.”