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 classical methods, establishing a learning and exploring haven for preschoolers that integrates rather than displaces their parents, 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, school boards, and organizations, both new and established, to share ideas and get advice. These include the Lutheran Schools Partnership here in Fort Wayne, the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Memoria Press, Hillsdale College, and Hillsdale’s Barney Charter Schools Initiative.
- Meet our school board
- What’s different about classical education?
- About our headmaster.
- Why the classical liberal arts?
Our school board currently includes Chairman Nathaniel Pullmann, Treasurer Cindy Arp, the Rev. Daniel Burfiend, Dr. Jason Thompson, and J. A. Pullmann.
Rev. Daniel Burfiend is the husband of Roseli, father of five children, 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.
Dr. Jason Thompson is associate professor of music at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, where he has been on faculty since 2006. He, his wife, and their two sons live in Fort Wayne. He conducts the IWU Orchestra, Early Music Ensemble, and Opera Theatre, and teaches violin, viola, and music history. He serves as concertmaster and assistant conductor of the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra.
Thompson is a scholar of early Lutheran church music, and is on the board of directors of Lutheranism and the Classics. As a Baroque violinist, Dr. Thompson has performed regularly with the Bach Collegium Fort Wayne, the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Bourbon Baroque, La Réunion Musicale, and New Comma Baroque. Dr. Thompson holds a bachelor of science in violin performance and conducting from Indiana University, a master of music in orchestral conducting from Bowling Green State University, and a doctor of music in early music ensemble direction from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
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.
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 an anti-Christian idea that pervades most schools, even Christian schools, even if they don’t say so explicitly, through methods and slogans such as “child-led instruction” and “follow your passion.” Of course, Christianity teaches that humans are by nature sinful and unclean, which is why we need Christ’s redemption. So we teach children to “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” through a variety of methods including robust critical thinking, knowledge of biblical and natural truth, and habits of character such as self-discipline and repentance.
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.” This is relativism, which is ultimately anti-Christian. 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 fruit of which is ultimately enduring joy, something far greater than happiness. 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, a private classical school, 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 ever. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa — a member of the nation’s most prestigious honor society — and earned high marks on his graduate thesis on American’s natural rights.
He also attended Hillsdale for an undergraduate degree first as a physics major, but the liberal arts 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 also served as a tutor 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. That organization has multiplied exponentially in Fort Wayne since Nathaniel trailblazed its local presence.
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 five young children.
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.” Since the revival of interest in the classical method began in approximately the 1980s with attention to this essay and others, classical educators have developed and recovered methods and ideas that augment and refine Sayers’ work. In that pursuit, Redeemer Classical aims to be a cutting-edge classical school incorporating the current, improved state of this education renaissance, which transcends models such as those created by Douglas Wilson’s Logos School, Core Knowledge, and Classical Conversations.