Six Questions with School Board Member, Mr. Mark Hemingway

In addition to introducing you to our outstanding teachers, we will be using our Six Questions Series to help you get to know the men and women who faithfully serve ILS on our School Board.

Immanuel Lutheran School is a mission of Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church. The School Board of Immanuel Lutheran Church serves ILS by adopting a clear statement of the school’s mission, vision, and strategic goals, and by establishing policies and plans that support them. The Board is comprised of members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, elected by the congregation for rotating two-year terms.

Today's blog features Board member Mr. Mark Hemingway, father to two current ILS students. We hope you enjoy!

1. What is your role at ILS?
I am serving my second term on ILS's school board. And I am also father to a fourth grader and a second grader.

2. What attracted you to classical, Christian education?
Well, the decline of American public education is so self evident that looking backwards for alternative models of education before everything went wrong is a useful exercise. Accordingly, classical education emphasizes proven, timeless methods-- specifically the way the trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and logic is applied to students in different stages and ages--that are very sensible and intuitive. While many teachers and administrators are doing heroic work in public schools and deserve our support, in general I think it's fair to say modern education is incredibly prone to fads, unwilling to enforce basic standards, and has become politicized in ways such that it's impossible to speak up for certain objective truths. Classical education is becoming a bona fide movement in this country because lots of parents in this country would rather hit the reset button rather than subject their kid to the latest bureaucratic experiments in sociology.

As for the Lutheran aspect, well, education is fundamentally moral act. If you can't articulate why your children or their teachers are in school every day, something is not right. Certainly secular school environments are capable of producing responsible citizens, but I want more for my children than that. When everyone at a school, from the headmaster down to the junior kindergarten students, can articulate the love of Jesus Christ, it cultivates a sense of community and and shared purpose. That shared purpose is most important because the thing I want most for my kids--and yours!--is salvation. But as it turns out, cultivating a collective Christian love of our respective educational vocations also has a pretty positive effect on test scores, too.

3. What do you enjoy most about our ILS community?
While I don't know everyone in the ILS community, I do love that I have so many valuable relationships with people in the school's orbit from other parents on through the teachers. Education depends on trust, and as parents we all have understandable anxieties about whether our children are learning and developing in all the ways that they should be. At ILS, if you ever need further elucidation about school policies, curriculum issues, or even basic reassurance, doors are always open and the responses given are heartfelt, thoughtful, and personalized.

4. What was your favorite class (or subject) in school?
Seeing as I'm a political journalist, it's probably surprising to no one my favorite subjects were literature and history. But I'm pretty curious about most things. My dad owned an electronics company I spent a lot of time at, I was a semi-pro musician for a number of years, and I've got county physics quiz bowl championship ribbon at the bottom of a drawer somewhere. 

5. What book(s) are you currently reading? (What books are on your nightstand?)
In the last month, I've read three books, all of which I would unreservedly recommend. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is a kind of journalistic memoir about the economic, social, and spiritual decline of America's white working class.  Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, about a Ph.D. who quits his think tank job in D.C. and moves to Richmond to become a motorcycle mechanic, is an amazingly insightful and readable work of pure philosophy. Finally, I read my colleague Chris Caldwell's fantastic book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West. It's a sober--and sobering--catalog of ways Europe's classically liberal social and political order has been dismantled in recent years, and provides ample warnings about how these problems may be imported from across the pond.

6. Please share one thing you're looking forward to this year.
Seeing the building completed! I realize that may be a bit of an obvious thing to say, but it really will be the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication by many wonderful people at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School.