Our school board is working with many Fort Wayne friends and parents to bring classical education to Northeast Indiana. Our initial goal is to establish a K-12 classical school, including a learning and exploring haven for preschoolers that integrates rather than displaces their parents.
Our long-term goals include working with homeschool families to meet their needs, offering stimulating adult classes in everything from the American founding to classic literature, establishing a center to train teachers from all kinds of schools in the delight and efficacy of the classical method, and forming a startup network that will cultivate new classical schools across Fort Wayne and beyond. We are in constant contact with other classical schools, both new and established, to share ideas and get advice.
- Meet our school board
- What’s different about classical education?
- About Nathaniel and Joy
- Why the classical liberal arts?
Our school board currently includes Chairman Nathaniel Pullmann, Treasurer Cindy Arp, the Rev. Daniel Burfiend, and Joy Pullmann.
Rev. Burfiend is the husband of Roseli, father of four sons, and pastor of New Hope Lutheran Church in Ossian, Indiana. He and Rosi are graduates of Hillsdale College, one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions and a national pioneer in establishing and advising K-12 classical schools and developing classically oriented teachers.
At Hillsdale, where he majored in history, Burfiend won a campuswide speech competition for three of his four undergraduate years and was on the college debate team. Burfiend worked for the college after graduation in institutional advancement before heading to Concordia Theological Seminary here in Fort Wayne for both his pastoral graduate degree and an academic graduate degree in theology. Burfiend also advises the board of Wittenburg Academy, an online classical school.
Cindy Arp and her husband, Jason, live in Southwest Fort Wayne with their two daughters, ages 7 and 5. She graduated from Indiana University’s School of Business with a B.S. in Business Finance and enjoyed her last semester of college in Rouen, France. She worked for Bank of America Mortgage Finance and GE Capital in treasury and accounting functions.
Currently, Cindy’s full-time commitment is to homeschooling their daughters in a classical Christian setting. Cindy has enjoyed the privilege of teaching God’s Word to children in the Bible Study Fellowship, International children’s program for six years. She is also the treasurer of J. Arp & Company, the proprietary trading company of which Jason is president.
The Arps are thankful for the opportunity to raise their family in Cindy’s childhood hometown after living in Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina over the last ten years.
Nathaniel and Joy’s bios are further down this page.
Classical education is not just another style of schooling. It’s something completely different, starting with what we call “first principles.” That means that our distinctively Christian, historic philosophy holds that certain things are true about human nature, and those truths must shape how we educate children.
One of the first of these is that we don’t assume children begin life perfect and society corrupts them. This is a progressive, anti-Christian idea that pervades most schools, even Christian schools, even if they don’t say so explicitly. Of course, Christianity teaches that humans are by nature sinful and unclean, which is why we need Christ’s redemption. So because human nature is naturally corrupt, we don’t necessarily encourage children to “follow their passions.”
We also don’t believe teachers should be passive “guides on the side,” facilitators who set children loose upon the world with little guidance, to “construct their own knowledge.” Instead, we view teachers as authorities with important, exciting, objective truths about creation to impart to the young ones in their care. This means children need explicit, direct instruction, and that we don’t assume all ideas are equally valid (although we’re willing to entertain all ideas openly during discussions in our communal search for truth).
The goal of education is not to build a child’s self-esteem, but to help parents cultivate his character. The goal of an education worth pursuing is virtue: moral, intellectual, and physical. We believe Western civilization and Christendom has over centuries discovered and transmitted truths about the human condition that we owe to our forefathers, children, and fellow citizens to continue refining and passing down.
Nathaniel’s strengths lie in leadership, science, and working with young men. In 2016, he earned his master’s degree in statesmanship at Hillsdale College, where he apprenticed with Hillsdale Academy in preparation for becoming our school’s headmaster. He was awarded a fellowship with the college’s Winston Churchill Project, which is archiving the personal papers of one of the greatest statesmen who has ever lived. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa — the nation’s most prestigious honor society — and earned high marks on his thesis about American’s natural rights.
He also attended Hillsdale for an undergraduate degree first as a physics major, but the liberal arts captured his attention and led him to switch his major to political science with extensive university-level math and science coursework. He graduated having also completed a capstone course defining and surveying the classical liberal arts with two of the country’s foremost thinkers on that subject (Dr. David Whalen and Dr. Mark Kalthoff).
Nathaniel has served as a tutor both informally for his spatially-challenged friends and formally for the college’s physics department. He taught a classical humane letters course (blended history and literature) to homeschooled high school students, trotting them through the small and big pictures of history and drilling them on central historical and philosophical concepts. He is also the founder and former director of the first Fort Wayne branch of Classical Conversations, a nationwide network of homeschool classes and curriculum.
Back in Washington, DC, where the Pullmanns lived before coming to Fort Wayne, he was assistant manager for a multi-million-dollar company, daily supervising and acting as a father figure to low-income, minority young men for whom working with him was often their first job experience. He has further experience mentoring and keeping in line young men from his years as the warden, an elected officer who enforced public morality and respectability among members, for his Christian men’s music fraternity in college.
For three years, Nathaniel sang baritone for an a capella quartet that toured nationwide in 2009. He sight-reads four-part harmony and sings in his church choir and for the Fort Wayne Bach Collegium. On the side, Nathaniel serves as his church’s treasurer, and enjoys woodworking. The Pullmanns have four children, ages 6, 5, 3, and 15 months.
Joy is managing editor of The Federalist and an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, a state-focused public policy organization. In that capacity she has testified before more than a dozen state legislatures and been consulted by local, state, and federal elected and unelected officials on education policy.
She is the author of “The Education Invasion,” out from Encounter Books in January 2017. She has traveled to speak at nationwide venues and is regularly published in local, state, and national newspapers and publications. Frequently, Joy is a guest on on national and state television and radio shows, including those of Larry King, Fox News, and John Stossel. Her areas of particular interest are curriculum, data privacy, Common Core, school choice, early childhood, and federal education policy.
Joy has nearly two decades of experience constructing and teaching classes for children from preschool through high school. She first taught the fundamentals of logic and rhetoric as practiced in speech and debate with classes of up to 20 youngsters aged 12 to 18. She and her students earned national rankings in speech and debate. Based on this experience, she has consulted with other homeschool speech and debate groups, offering organization and teaching pointers and developing a public speaking curriculum for middle and high school students.
Joy has also taught middle school, high school, and professional writing classes and has tutored individual students in writing, literature, and core college classes. In college, she was also ranked in the top 20 nationally in parliamentary debate. Joy graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English and journalism from the Hillsdale College honors program.
Why the classical liberal arts?
Two reasons: intelligence and character. The classical liberal arts is not just a course of study, but an application of the human soul to eternal truths with an eye towards inculcating moral and mental virtue. The liberal arts prepare a person not just for a job or specific skills that may change with the times, but to gather, retain, organize, and judge information, and translate it into virtuous action.
Many Christian schools and homeschooling methods emphasize morality or intellectual rigor, but the liberal arts rightly joins these in an engaged, time-tested curriculum and habits of mind. The liberal arts aim to inculcate in children a love for goodness, truth, and beauty that will continually lead them towards eternity. They train children to learn what is true, why, and to explain and defend it publicly.
Most liberal arts enthusiasts direct newbies to Dorothy Sayers’ essay outlining the structure of classical education, “The Lost Tools of Learning.”