A letter from The Director
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself…” ~Phil 2:8
“Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the purpose of the LORD will prevail.” ~ Proverbs 19:21
Dear BCA Community,
This Christmas season is a reminder of the importance of humble obedience. Christ was born to the world in the most humble of circumstances, and serves as an example for us that we may follow his teaching: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” ~Matt 11:29
I have the opportunity to lead a school that humbly seeks to be an instrument of the Lord in transforming the minds of high school students. Our mission is that we may all be “transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” I feel honored and privileged to teach at such a school, though teaching here was not my original plan.
My dream was to teach history at a university after graduating from college, and so I started teaching part-time at BSU in 2013. Through a series of circumstances that only God could have orchestrated, I also felt drawn to a little co-op for homeschool students. I found I loved teaching these Jr. High students; my classes were filled with laughter and games, and yet the students still seemed to be learning. This was a revelation, and so different from my own Jr. High experience. I was intrigued and inspired, but I still considered this teaching job to be a temporary position until I started teaching full time at the university.
The Lord had other plans.
The co-op where I was teaching didn’t have a program for high school students, and yet, my students were just ready to engage with the big questions concerning life’s meaning and purpose. I asked the Boise Church of Christ if we could start a high school program at our building, and we named it Boise Classical Academy. The elders had a vision and love for Christian education, and supported our mission. So we began our first year with nine students. To take Paul’s phrase: I planted the seed, teachers watered it, but God made it grow. This year we have almost 70 students, representing about 40 families.
I love being the director of this school, teaching students as well as partnering with parents and teachers. Although there are trials of many kinds, I am often astonished by the joy I experience in being a part of how God transforms our students every day at BCA. I believe that Christian education is one of the most powerful ways to spread the gospel, and I am honored to serve with fellow teachers who are inspiring followers of Christ.
Because of the demands of the position, I decided this year to step back from teaching at BSU so I can focus more on BCA. I marvel at the way the Lord has shifted my priorities, humbling that which was exalted, and exalting that which was humble. The Lord has taught me that true education is not about degrees, but about knowing the Lord. Acts tells us “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” More than anything, I pray that our students will someday be known as those who have “been with Jesus.”
Benjamin Brandon, Director BCA
When God says, “Yes, do this.”
An Interview with Jennifer Alles
How did you hear about Boise Classical Academy? What led you to want to teach at BCA?
I heard of BCA about four years ago through a chance email from someone in the homeschool group to which we belonged. We were new in town, and I was very interested to find out about all the possibilities for education for our son, who had left behind lifelong friends at the difficult age of 14. We were really excited when we discovered that this homeschool/hybrid school was small, classical, Christian, affordable, and located really close to our home. Isaac started at BCA in the fall of 2015 and graduated last spring.
I decided to take the plunge and teach at BCA in 2017-18 because they needed someone, it was the Medieval Year in the history cycle, and all my past experiences seemed to lead toward it: I was originally a classroom teacher (way back in my past life); I had written a published unit study on the Early Middle Ages; I had just completed a year teaching the High Middle Ages and Renaissance to middle schoolers in our homeschool co-op; and I LOVE the Middle Ages. Though I knew well how much work classroom teaching is, I just felt like God was saying, “Yes. Do this.”
This year, you are teaching 7th/8th literature, and 9th grade history! What is your favorite thing about teaching students of this age?
A lot of people blanch when I tell them I'm teaching 7th, 8th and 9th graders. But honestly, the kids here at BCA are so wonderful, it is a joy. They are, for the most part, lively and fun, kind and respectful. This age group has one foot in the concrete world and one in the abstract, so they grapple with ideas in refreshing and often surprising ways. They are discovering who they are in their families, and in their communities, who they are before God, and who they are in the world, so it's a time of massive growth and maturing, and it's a privilege to share in that. I also love how BCA is a homeschool hybrid school: there is a true sense of collaboration between me, as their classroom teacher, and their parents, who are always the primary educators of their children.
You’ve read some classics of middle school lit this year: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Treasure Island, Just So Stories and A Christmas Carol. Are any of these works favorites of yours, or what was your favorite book when you were in middle school?
I always tell my own seven kids, who were homeschooled using Great Books and, to varying degrees, classical methods, that they are better educated than I am! I don't believe I read any of these as a middle schooler (Of course, Island of the Blue Dolphins hadn't been written yet). I remember that Harriet, the Spy was a favorite of mine in 6th grade, and in 8th grade I fell in love with a book my dad (who was a voracious reader) handed to me one day: Mistress Masham's Repose by T. H. White.
I developed a fierce admiration for Treasure Island as I re-read it with the kids this past semester. The writing is really brilliant, as is the plot. It is a great, great novel, though challenging for modern young people to access because of their unfamiliarity with vocabulary that would have been known to readers of the past. Jim Hawkins' moral decisions were so admirable even as he sometimes made foolish choices. And Long John Silver is one of the most complex characters I have met in children's literature. He kept the kids guessing: Would he kill Jim for the treasure if it really came down to that? Or would he not? The jury was out. It also touched something deep in me with all the description of the sounds of sails luffing and then snapping to as they fill with wind, or the sound of water chuckling against the hull. I grew up in a house on the banks of the Columbia River, only a couple of miles inland from the ocean. We always had a boat – sail boat or power -- and I know these sounds, deep in my bones, very well.
Honorable mention: Really enjoyed Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
If you could talk with any author of middle school literature who has ever lived, who would it be, and why?
That's a hard question! It would be wonderful to visit with C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, of course, but it might be most fun to visit the home of George MacDonald and his classically educated wife, and all their 11 children, who put on plays for their parents and listened to their father spin his fairy tales. He was a favorite author in my college years.
When you’re not preparing for lit or history classes, what is something you enjoy doing that might surprise people.
Well, I'm one of those people who always seems to have a song stuck in her head! I sing in a choir. I'm part of the St. Johns Cathedral choir, and we do quite a variety of music for church services. We sing in English, Latin, German, Spanish – even Basque, sometimes! I love the works of Renaissance composers like Victoria, Byrd and Palestrina. Singing their music is like solving a complex and beautiful puzzle made of time and sound.
Speaking of time and sound, enjoy three video minutes of Mrs. Alles leading BCA students in the sounds of a passing storm during Winter Festival.
Announcements and Events
Winter Break - NO school Fri, Dec 21st - Jan 6th
Semester 2 begins on Mon, Jan 7th
Thesis and Graduation Preparations Begin
Hey, you...yeah, you!
A regular feature where we all get to know each other...
Bridger Dirkes, 7th Grade
Where do you most hope to visit? Germany or Greece
Favorite Books? Chronicles of Narnia
Phoebe Seibel, 9th Grade
What would be your dream job? Working at the Seattle Aquarium, either with the octopi, seals, or being the diver in the huge tank in the entrance.
If you had to eat one thing for every meal going forward, what would you eat? My mom’s famous roast!
Colton White, 10th Grade
What’s the worst chore you’ve ever had? Cleaning out a trash can that had grass in it for three weeks.
What’s one of your favorite memories? Going hunting with my papa, and seeing him eject a shell from his rifle into the air and catch it.
Kade Leavell, 11th Grade
What’s the best costume you’ve ever had? My social butterfly costume.
What’s one thing you’re excited about that’s coming up in 2019? I’ll be learning to drive over the summer. Yay!
Winter Festival 2018
Winter Festival—a well-loved tradition at BCA—when our students, staff, parents and siblings come together to celebrate the semester just ended with feasting, fellowship, performances and displays of student creativity, cleaning, games, memories, and a time of prayer and blessing before parting for Winter Break. Wishing you, the BCA Community, comfort, joy, and the presence of our Savior in your rest and celebration!