The seeds of St. Michael's were sown in the early 1980's through the efforts of many dedicated individuals who wanted an educational methodology based on the traditional Christian understanding of the human soul. St. Michael's and some other Orthodox Christian schools are the fruit of these labors.
The first St. Michael's School was established in Portland, OR in 1983. St. Michael's in Santa Rosa, CA began in 1992 as a series of extension classes offered to home-schooled children. Two years later it developed into a full-time elementary school with a complete curriculum. The teachers have worked together for over twenty years.
Our striving has always been to teach children in a way that not only gives them the knowledge (information) necessary in many subject areas, but also contributes to their right formation. Education is a matter of the formation of the soul, not just the giving of information for a successful adult life. Therefore, our concern is about both what is taught, and how it is taught. We aspire to teach in a manner that informs their minds and, most importantly, touches their souls and hearts.
The writings of St. Theophan the Recluse and St. John of Kronstadt have been very influential in the development of our pedagogy. We have also been inspired by such educators as Charlotte Mason for her emphasis on the use of narration (which is also recommended by St. John Chrysostom) and her insight that "there is no impression without an expression."
In order to truly learn, rather than just memorize, children need outward activities to solidify and express their understanding. For example, in many subject lessons, we would include activities such as painting or drawing pictures of their lesson, narration, and recitation. Math manipulatives, math games, and physical movement were part of our mathematics curriculum. We realized that having students draw simple diagrams or illustrations of math story problems helped them understand the situation and therefore easily solve the problem.
Details of this approach and these activities will be found in other sections of this website.
The beauty and the fulness of Orthodox liturgical life is an ongoing inspiration. If the Church, in its liturgical life, teaches us through song, beauty and activity, should not an Orthodox school employ these same principles in the classroom?
Our goal has been to inspire the children to love God and the Church, to develop a love for learning, an appreciation of beauty, both visual and literary, a love of labor, and a desire to work with others.
Throughout the many the years in the classroom, we have developed curriculum materials consistent with these goals and are offering them to other teachers and homeschooling parents. Some of these materials are for sale in our School Store, some are offered without cost. We plan to add more as we are able.