For twenty years, St. Michael’s offered an Orthodox Christian education in southwest Santa Rosa, in beautiful Sonoma County, California. Some of our children's parents remarked that it was the "best kept secret of Sonoma County". The school was established in 1994 and was deliberately small. We generally had between 12 and 18 students. With three very experienced teachers, the children received a well-rounded education, filled with art, poetry, practical work experience and loving attention.
However, a small school is very difficult to maintain, especially when so many families are struggling to balance their own budgets. We are very grateful for those who had the means to be so generous to the school, but in May, 2014, we were forced to close our doors.
Although the day to day school is now closed, we will be maintaining the website as a means of offering the fruits of our more than 30 years of experience (each). We are still inspired by the time our Lord gave us to be in the classroom and we want to do all we can to share what we have learned (teachers should always learn as much as the students) with other parents/teachers.
Our goal will be as it always has been - to articulate the principles of an Orthodox Christian education, based on the Orthodox Christian understanding of a human being. Our goal is also to give practical examples of how to follow these principles in the classroom, whether at home or in a private school. All that you will see on this website has been actually used, often for many years, in the classroom.
We never advertised ourselves as an highly academic school, but our emphasis on Christian values and personal relationships resulted in graduates who were very successful in their high school studies. Many of them were placed in Advance Placement courses in high school, and some immediately started taking junior college courses at Santa Rosa Junior College.
For Orthodox Christians, this Sunday, February 18, is Forgiveness Sunday, a day in which we beg forgiveness from each other for any evil we have done. On Monday, February 19, we begin the period of Great Lent, a time of increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving, in preparation for the Great and Holy Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
During the first week of Great Lent, sections of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is read each night. This canon mentions many people and incidents which are recorded in the Old Testament. The entire Caon is read again later in Lent. If we are to receive the benefit which the Church offers us during this week, we need to know at least a little about the peple and the incidents referenced in the Canon.
A written lecture which explains many of the references in the Canon is available in PDF format by clicking here
On Forgiveness Sunday, we remembered the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, and the readings for Pre-Sanctified Liturgy are from Genesis. Therefore, this is an appropriate time to make available, free of charge, a book about the creation of the world. Did it happen quickly, as a simple reading of Genesis would indicate, or did it happen over long periods of time, as many modern scientists claim. For a free download of the book, A Closer Look at the Evidence, What Orthodox Christians Should Know About the Theory of Evolution, click here. (The cover is a separate file, here) This book is the result of many years of research and lecturing. It is written for the "layman", but is scientifically accurate. Many home schooling parents struggle with this question, and we hope that this book is helpful.
Children thrive and develop in a warm, personal setting and this is the atmosphere we maintained at St. Michael's. Some called it "the next best thing to home schooling." While larger educational institutions work on the factory model of education, an Orthodox Christian perspective values the less institutional, more personal teacher-student relationship model. This approach has been very fruitful. We expected the highest from each student and the students were challenged to fulfill their God-given abilities. While the best is expected of each, each child is measured according to their ability, not to the ability of others.
For a more detailed picture of our views of education and how these views influence the day to day life of the school, we suggest you read the material in the "Articles on Education", "History and Philosophy" and "Newsletter" sections of the website. We are very interested in using our thirty-some years of teaching experience toward the establishment of new and development of existing Orthodox grammar schools. Please contact us, firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-545-0861.