The Geneva School

Last Day…Best Day…D.C….

May 13, 2017

Plenty of rest Thursday night.  The weather was perfect Friday. We had TWO scheduled snacks between breakfast and lunch. And we got to see some of the most meaningful reminders of Love, Sacrifice, and Justice in modern history. But first, we skipped to the bus!

While celebrating two birthdays!

And helping relieve some sore muscles!

The National Mall is rich in beauty and memory and hope.


And a good place for a well-timed jump-shot.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial and the war memorials were solemn and striking reminders that some things are worth fighting and dying for.

And, it came time to say goodbye to D.C. and our week-long home away from home. I’m sure that every one of the students, chaperones, and staff are looking forward to their next visit to our nation’s capital!

by Luke Tevebaugh, parent blogger

Rain-Dampened Shoes, not Spirits

May 12, 2017

God saw fit to add rain to our DC agenda, so we embraced the adventure set before us and had a lot of fun, not in spite of the rain, but with the rain.  Each depression in the sidewalk was a moat to skirt and the busses nearing the edge of the road could cause a chill geyser to spout forth unexpectedly.

In between rainy strolls and attempts to catch raindrops on the tongue, we visited the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and National Air and Space Museum. Casually visiting both museums in a day could lead one to think of the works of nature as God’s work and the works of technology and engineering as Man’s work. But from Col 1:17 we know “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” God’s creation of us means he gives us a capacity to create, too. We see this every day of course, but being up close to a lunar module, that we made, that has landed on the moon, is a great reminder of how remarkably we are created in God’s image.

National Museum of Natural History


National Air and Space Museum

At the beginning of the day Dr. Clark played some guitar.

We aren’t going to remember how to use a seatbelt after all this public transportation!


We walked some more in the rain …

Wouldn’t be a DC blog post without some escalator photos!

And we wrapped up the day with pizza and some games at the hostel. Friday’s forecast shows no rain and a chance to see some memorials!  Stay tuned…

by Luke Tevebaugh, parent blogger

New Perspectives

May 12, 2017

Day three of our adventure in Boston was another fascinating day. It was a day spent gaining new perspectives.  We began our day visiting the Boston Public Library. Normally, when one thinks of a library, one may think of a building that holds and lends books and other materials. The Boston Public Library is not a normal library. It was the first library in the United States to lend books for free. Secondly, one would not think of a library to be filled with art. The Boston Library is filled with magnificent murals painted by John Singer Sargent. Beautiful sculpture and magnificent marble adorn the halls, walls, and stairways of this library. We spent the morning on a guided tour learning about these murals and mosaics. Our minds expanded — a library can be much more than a place to go and check out a book, study for an exam, or complete research. A library can be so much more!


Our afternoon was spent in the lovely Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum. After spending the prior day at the Museum of Fine Art, one may think The Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum would be similar. The Gardner Museum is a completely new perspective. First, the entire collection is located in Ms. Gardner’s one-time residence, built to emulate a 15th century Venetian Palace. There is a homey feel to the museum.  Also, one may think that since this entire museum is filled with works of art donated from a private collection, it may be a small collection. But the collection is wonderfully large! It spans four floors of the one-time residence. Room after room filled with art from Renaissance masters and contemporary artists. Each room is staged precisely how Ms. Gardner had arranged them. In fact, one of the conditions of her donation of this amazing collection was stipulated upon her death: no art could be added or sold to the collection. Additionally, each exhibit had to remain precisely as she had arranged them. Nothing could be changed or the entire collection would be sold. We spent the afternoon exploring this quirky and eclectic museum, gaining a new prospective that a museum could be more than a large building. An art museum could be intimate, homey and a bit quirky and still maintain its integrity. Again a new perspective was gained.

Finally, we ended our day at the Boston Pops. What a way to end a day! Now, when you think of an orchestra or the Boston Pops, you might think of a more sterile, proper environment. One where the musicians play and the audience listens intently. Well, that was not the case! The Boston Pops celebrated the works of its former conductor, John Williams. Besides being the former conductor, Williams is famous for the numerous scores he has composed for motion pictures: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Jaws to name a few. After a brief intermission, Queen Latifah was the featured performer. Her performance in this historic building with the amazing Boston Pops Orchestra had the audience clapping, cheering, and singing along. The building was alive with music and energy. It sounded lovely to hear a contemporary artist — a rapper at that — singing with one of the best orchestras in a 135-year-old symphony hall. The crowd was excited and on their feet. The Geneva students where engaged. As her performance came to an end, our students and the audience erupted into a thunderous round of applause!

Now this was completely new perspective!

Wednesday Around the Capital

May 11, 2017

After a hearty continental breakfast, we hit the road again Wednesday for day two of the Geneva School’s 6th Grade D.C. visit.

The Library of Congress and the Capitol Building were first on the agenda.  The architectural beauty of this city and our country’s most historic buildings continue to amaze everyone on the trip.

Our students, though, (and the apparent passion for education behind their teachers and parents) are as remarkable as the things seen and facts heard on this trip.  Their effortless interaction with the docents made this parent proud.  Their knowledge of our country’s history and its application to why our government runs the way it does surprised more than a couple of our tour guides.  (One even honorarily pre-advanced the class to the 7th grade.  Much to their chagrin, however, they were told they would have to “honorarily” finish out the year as 6th graders.)


There was more walking and an unscheduled, brief but pleasant, interaction with a person exercising their First Amendment rights on the lawn of the Capitol Building…

A few of the students were particularly enthusiastic about a future career in law, and they especially perked up during the lecture in the courtroom of the Supreme Court.

The Botanical Gardens was a good opportunity to “walk around briskly” and enjoy some unstructured time in the beauty of God’s creation, seeing representative plant species from around the world.

Like was said yesterday, the journeying is almost as much fun as the sites and sights.  Escalators and the Metro haven’t gotten old, yet!

To wrap up a long, exertion-and-wonder-filled day, we played games and then slept hard.  We’re all excited to see what DC has for us on Thursday!

by Luke Tevebaugh, parent blogger

Listening, Learning, and Making Connections

May 11, 2017

After a brief stop to admire Fenway Park and the Big Green Monster, we spent much of our time today at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Once at the museum, we broke into small groups and were guided through Art of the Ancient World. The small groups, led by knowledgeable guides, made for an intimate setting. Questions where asked, and connections where made. Connections like, “How does ancient art depict life at that time?” “How does the art represent what was important to society at that time?” Our guides led us through these discussions. Students were called on to answer questions like, “What is symbolic about the bust of Caesar Augustus?” “How is the bust of Caesar Augustus different from that of the Roman Republic bust Portrait of a Man.” The students eagerly provided answers to the questions asked and made their own intelligent observations.


Other questions heard throughout the day where, “What is significant about the Egyptian burial process and the Funerary Art present during the burial process?” “How is this Funerary Art connected to Egyptian life during that time period?” “How does the early work of Assyria differ from that of the Neo-Babylonian period?” Time and time again our tour guides guided our students through these questions, making connections along the way.

After our time with the guides, the students were split up into even smaller groups and encouraged to explore the museum’s other exhibits; Matisse, Botticelli, American Art, Asian Art, and Modern Art were some of the exhibits explored. Questions continued, and observations where made.

Students where encouraged to seek out and sketch a piece of art which was meaningful to them. More pondering and wondering through this massive museum. A museum filled with beautiful treasurers linking the past to the present day.

After we had seen just about all the Museum of Fine Arts had to offer, we took a short train ride to Trinity Church. Trinity Church is a beautiful Episcopal Church designed by Henry Hobson Richardson. The building of the church took place from 1872 to 1877. At Trinity Church, we worshiped by attending the choral Evensong service, singing hymns and praising God.

Following the service, we stayed for a private tour, primarily focusing on the church’s architecture and amazing organ. Attending a worship service in such an old historical building, one could not help but make connections from the past to the present.

A day of learning surrounded by beautiful art, asking questions, making connections, and worshiping coincides wonderfully with Geneva’s mission of inspiring students to love beauty, to think deeply, and pursue Christ’s calling. Yes, we listened. Yes, we learned. And, yes, we made connections. We are excited for what tomorrow will bring!

by Cheree Foreman, parent blogger

Planes, Trains, Buses, Ferries, and Tired Feet

May 10, 2017

The day started early as we met in the Orlando Airport center lobby at 6:15 am. Forty-one Geneva school 8th graders and their chaperones all ready to take on Boston — to see the sights, sounds, and history. For some, this would be their first airplane flight. For some, it would be their first time riding public transportation in a major city. Excitement was high. Smiles evident on faces. We were ready. A prayer started our journey, and we where on our way!

As soon as we landed in Boston, the adventure began. Mr. Moon briefed us on the transportation options we would be taking during our visit. First a bus to the T (Boston’s name for the subway). We rode the T (changing trains along the way) into the city. We noticed that while riding with a large group, trains get very crowed quickly. When we emerged from the underground we also noticed it was much colder in Boston than Florida. Jackets, hats, and gloves were pulled from suitcases.  A quick stop at the hostel (another first for many of us) to drop off our luggage, and we started exploring Boston.

First stop was the Boston Commons and the Freedom Trail. History was all around.  Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock are some of the names Dr. Brodrecht spoke about as we walked as a group for several miles exploring The Commons, Cranary Burial Gardens, The Kings Chapel, and Fanuiel Hall.

Next we boarded a ferry to cross the harbor and visit “Old Ironside,” the oldest commissioned sailing vessel still afloat. Its actual name is The USS Constitution. We listened intently as the sailors told us about the history of this magnificent ship, its humble beginnings, its battles and victories, and what life as a sailor on board this ship would be like during the 1800’s. We explored its lower decks, each deck having a specific purpose, noticing as we went lower into the ship that the ceiling heights shrank dramatically. Mind Your Head — we now know the origin of that phrase!

After our sailing ship visit, it was another walk around the harbor to dinner. Dinner was a delicious family style Italian meal in Boston’s North end. After dinner another walk to the T. Two trains later, we emerged from the subway close to our hostel. Another short walk.

By now it was late, we were tired. It had been a long day starting early, ending late exploring Boston. But we are still excited to see what tomorrow has to offer!

by Cheree Foreman, parent blogger

The Joy is in the Journey

May 10, 2017

If this is true, that the joy is in the journey, then we’ve had a week’s worth of joy already.  There was lots of journeying today – by car, then air, then metro but MOSTLY by foot.  And the Geneva School 6th graders seemed to love every minute of it!

Neither Orlando International nor Reagan National Airports saw a group today as excited and curious (and maybe a tad excitable) as ours.

With an early start and all that movement (one chaperone’s fitbit showed 10.5 miles walked!) lunch on a beautiful downtown DC lawn was very welcomed.

The exhibits at the National Archives and the Smithsonian were truly awe-inspiring and humbling.  And while many of our national treasures are sensitive to light and therefore preclude guest photography, I’m sure the images of legendary and historic documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights will be burned into our student’s hearts and minds.  Ask them about it, and whether they found the Lincoln cloud in the mural in the rotunda of the National Archives!

Lastly, it was time to unwind.  For many of the adults and students, hosteling is a new experience.  It has a distinctly camp or college feel to it.  And at least these students really like their sleeping quarters!

by Luke Tevebaugh, parent blogger

Landed in Boston

May 9, 2017

The eighth graders have landed safely in Boston and are taxiing to the terminal now.  Please keep this group of students, chaperones, faculty, and administration in your prayers as they spend the rest of the week touring historic Boston!

They’re Off! – D.C.

May 9, 2017

Sixth grade students are on their way to Washington D.C. this morning!  Please keep the group of students, chaperones, faculty, and administration in your prayers.

When Children Say, “I Can’t”

May 4, 2017

“I can’t do this!” One kindergarten student voices frustration in class while a fellow classmate quickly encourages, “Can’t isn’t allowed in kindergarten, remember? We can all try!”

Conversations like this happen on occasion in my kindergarten classroom, and it always makes my teacher heart so happy to hear that response. We talk often in kindergarten about the importance of trying something before we give up. Throughout our Bible time especially, the running lesson on God’s ability to work when circumstances seemed impossible floors and amazes my students, and often leads to learning to persevere together.

However, memories of this conversation haunted me as I prepared to fly to Accra, Ghana, to work with the Rafiki Foundation and their children’s home and school there. “I can’t” was a frequent comment I made as I rushed to get my passport renewed, get visas in place, pack appropriate clothes for extreme weather (and under 50 pounds of course), and determine where I was going to spend the night in Dubai, UAE, during my overnight layover.

Once I arrived, “I can’t” meant taking the heat—it was oppressively hot, with relatively no air conditioning. The first day I was there saw me tasked with helping one of the ROS (Rafiki Overseas Staff) deliver shoes to the 118 children in the village. I was miserable, promising myself I would never complain about snack duty in Florida heat.

Then I got into the classroom, and I thought classical school “can’t” work here. I have always thought that the classical model was beneficial to all—I even wrote a graduate school thesis on how it would be the right way to educate students whose learning had been interrupted. Yet faced with reality, doubt crept in. There were cultural issues; for example, early childhood education is treated like daycare and not considered necessary. Additionally, all of these children were orphans with a host of emotional and behavioral issues that come along with that. I knew I would need to do some adapting to make the classical model work in Ghana. I didn’t realize how the lack of resources, and the inability to get those resources, would severely limit what I could do, or more importantly, limit what I could train the teacher to do. Something as easy as using salt to practice letter formations is not so easy in a classroom with equatorial weather and no climate control. Limited access to internet and construction paper also made adapting art projects more complicated. I was humbled daily by how unbelievably blessed I am in my Geneva classroom.

However, despite the challenges, it quickly became obvious when I was teaching that, in fact, classical education does work in Ghana. During my time helping before school started, I was sorting and stamping some books that had come in from the USA, and came across My Father’s Dragon, a whimsical story that we read to TGS kindergarten students during our afternoon rest time. My students at Geneva had really liked this story about a boy and an adventure to rescue a dragon that his neighbor’s friendly talking cat told him about. So when it came time for me to lead the class, I started reading it to my African students. I was uncertain about how it would go over, due to some of the idioms that I didn’t think would translate, and since a reading time like that was not part of their normal routine. At first I thought I was right—the children did not seem engaged at all. But soon enough they would cheer when the book came off the shelf and dream up possible endings to the story during recess time. I often reflected back upon those conversations my students had at Geneva when faced with uncertain results or frustration, and I was glad I had persevered and tried something new.

There are a myriad of other stories I could tell for all the instances I thought “I can’t” over that month long trip. Not surprisingly, God proved me wrong over and over again. I am blessed to serve a God who does not get tired of proving that I can do things I feel I can’t, or more accurately, he can do them through me. I am reminded of James 1:5-6 that says “Let [them] ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given [them]. But let [them] ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” God showed me many times on that trip that I need to learn the very lesson I teach the students—you have to at least give it a try.

 by Jenna Bagnoli, Kindergarten Instructor