Somehow, I find myself the headmaster of a Chesterton Academy school in Sacramento. In one week, I went from wondering what had happened to my application to be a teacher at this new school, to getting hired, not as a teacher, but as the headmaster. My head is still spinning. Recap:
Months ago, my wife and I heard about an informational meeting being held near Sacramento by a group who wanted to found a Chesterton Academy – a Catholic Classics high school. We happened to be visiting our daughter and her husband nearby, and so we took a drive over to check it out.
I drove to wrong place, having gotten mixed up about where this particular meeting was. We figured it out, and came late to the correct location.
The caliber and size of the founding group was impressive, and they put on a very nice presentation. I signed the sign-in sheet, thus getting on their mailing list. In March, they started advertising for a headmaster, and I thought: no way, I’m going to be way WAY too busy moving and getting our dream hobby farm/homestead set up to do that. So I didn’t apply.
Teaching at a classical high school sounded like fun, especially after how much I enjoyed teaching history and literature to high school aged kids the last two years. So, a month later, when they advertised for teachers, I hesitated – super-busy packing up the house to sell – but, in the end, on the last day (April 30), I applied.
A month goes by, and I hear nothing. I send a follow-up email. Nothing. Then the truly odd stuff starts happening. Divine intervention, one might even imagine:
My son-in-law, who also applied to teach there – totally on his own, no concerted effort here – gets word that he needs to resubmit his application because his first was lost due to some technical issues. But I don’t hear anything, and am starting to get a little miffed. Now, my son in law’s Venn diagram of social circles overlaps mightily with the founders of this Chesterton Academy. Local Catholic boy, discerned out of the priesthood, family has lived here for many years. He knows many if not most of the people involved. I could have dropped in from Mars, comparatively, as far as these folks know me.
I determine with my son in law’s encouragement, to ask one of the founders I met at the info session out to lunch, to get to the bottom of this. This founder happens to have been his landlord for a while.
Son in law had evidently been talking me up, so much so that he sends me an email wherein a board member he was interviewing with suggested that I send in an application for the headmaster position. All this is happening at the same time, I’m not very clear in retrospect who caused what to happen and whose idea each action was. Son in law was a major driver here.
So I send in an application for a job for which I don’t even have a job description, mostly because I was intrigued, and because the situation had changed: we had not been able to sell the house, the market here for what we want is too hot for my blood. Sitting it out for a while was becoming more and more a decision that was not really mine to make. Maybe I should just rent for 6 months or a year and get a job?
I apply for headmaster with a rambling cover letter that is not addressing the actual listed job requirements, because the job description had vanished from the web. Seemed crazy. I have lovely lunch with the board member friend of my son in law, at which I learn that they’d had major, since resolved, issues with their website, during which my original application was lost – since I’d just dropped in from Mars, they had no way to know that they’d lost something.
I was not completely unmiffed by this explanation, nor, after the conversation, was I completely on board with the school. Long-time readers here know how much I dislike, to put it mildly, the classroom model. I needed to be convinced that in this case is was actually a good idea.
I heard back on the headmaster application the same day we went to lunch. A series of in-person and Zoom interviews followed. 3 days later, last Friday, I was offered and accepted the position of headmaster at the Chesterton Academy of Sacramento.
May God have mercy on our souls! Turns out my wacky, dabble in everything, fascinated by almost every shiny object that passes by personality comes off as Renaissance Man, under the proper lighting. As I said several times during the interviews, I’m not anybody’s ideal candidate, but if what it takes to get this project off the ground, to get this school opened in August, is for me to be headmaster, I will accept the adventure Aslan sends us.
The founders group is large and full of impressive people, who understand that in no way are they stepping back and handing this project off to me. They will remain very involved, and continue to do the same critical tasks they have been doing for a year. As in any start up, school or otherwise, the job to do will require more than what any one person can bring.
The funniest part about all this is that I’m more invigorated than terrified, given that I’ve never done anything very much like this job before. The personal and spiritual support of the board and the families is very comforting and inspiring, not to mention indispensable. Please pray for us all, if you’re the praying kind.
What is to become of this blog? I’m now in the position of, I think, Charles de Gaulle, who once said something like: that seems a reasonable course, but Charles de Gaulle would not take it. I have to reshape my writing and public behavior always with this attitude in mind: would the Headmaster of a Chesterton Academy do or say such a thing? And err on the side of caution.
With this in mind, I’m afraid the days of the Wild West of this blog are past. There are simply things the headmaster should not write about, or should not say. I have long contemplated starting another blog under a pen name for my writings, when I finally get them together for publishing. That’s definitely on the backburner for now. Here, I’ll check in when possible, but the days of 20+ posts a month, unofficially gone for some time now, are now officially past.
33 thoughts on “An Unexpected Journey”
Congratulations. This is great. I am sure you will have wonderful time.
That’s incredible. I would have hired you too, in all honesty. But the way it transpired makes it a fantastic story.
What will you do about the stuff that’s already posted on the blog? Will you have to cull through it?
Thanks. I hereby officially attribute everything written here previously to the inchoate passions of ‘youth’, from which I have now meekly recovered.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it. 😉
You were never terribly partisan, it seems to me. You criticized ideas, not people. In hindsight (to me anyway), maybe that was prudent.
Congratulations!! What great news! God is so good.
I for one will miss seeing your regular posts and musings about life, the universe and everything. I particularly love your posts about the history of American education, and have been hoping eagerly that you might be able to finish that book you’ve talked about… 🙂
But now as you live the experience of this approach to American education in the Chesterton Academy, I will keep you in my prayers, for many graces and great success in this exciting new chapter of your life.
Thank you so much! Maybe next year on that book…
Congratulations on the blessing of the new job! Sounds like you’ll have some good support along the way too.
Similar to you, we are planning to rent for a year due to high home prices in our area.
For some reason we do not sail through uncertainty all peaceful and relaxed. Good thing God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Don’t stress, be happy, and be blessed.
Thanks. So far, too busy to be worried.
I interview at a classical Catholic school Friday, wish me luck.
Oh wow! Wonderful. My prayers are with you.
Thanks. I actually worked at a classical Christian (not Catholic) school for a few months, but had to leave because I was making less than 30k a year. This gives me a leg up on a job that promises to pay more. I got to do a model lesson on a poem Friday; I’ll be doing “The Thunderer” by Phyllis McGinley.
Best wishes to both of you! I only drop by this blog occasionally, and am delighted to have encountered this good news while it’s still fresh.
(I switched to “The Myth of Arthur” by Chesterton on the spur of the moment; lesson tomorrow.)
Not sure if I’m making a joke or not, but hey, considered a name change for the job?
Yesterday, someone read or at least tabbed through a bunch of my posts….
Probably too late. 😉
Well, I can’t think of something Objection!able you’ve said, for someone who doesn’t disavow Chesterton.
Well, unless it’s the “capitalism is eeeeeebil” guy on Twitter. He seems….kinda young.
I’m sure they were downloading them to use against you later.
Congratulations! Though I will certainly miss the bracing sanity of your thoughts, I am delighted to hear of your good fortune!
Besides which, it is heartening to know that there are committed, well-funded groups like this at work in the world today.
(I recently made a similar long-shot application as a matter of fact: an editor position with a home school advocacy group. Please pray for me!)
Thanks! Will do.
Congrats! May God bless you and the school in this new endeavor!
I’m a little disappointed you won’t be blogging about it– I feel like given the nature of the school, and its location, odds are non-zero that I’ve met some of the folks involved, and I’d have loved to eavesdrop on the venture.
Which is one of many reasons to respect everybody’s privacy and go on a blogging hiatus. The internet is full of nosy people whose business it isn’t 😉
There is going to be a school blog or at least an online newsletter, and I will write for it.
Congratulations, and also.. bugger. All good things… etc.
Great news! I suspect the Chesterton Academy has a bright future with you guiding it out of harbour. I will miss your writing here, but my loss is a small thing.
Congrats! The school will be blessed with your wisdom and humour.
I do hope you can post some photos of the school and some events from time to time. As well as your thoughts.
Thanks! The school will have a blog or online newsletter for which I will write, to which I will provide a link once it is available. That should supply then desired info.
Thanks! I look forward to reading it.
Well, congratulations! But I hope you can find a way to put on a bloggy fright wig and false mustache and continue to treat us to your wit and wisdom in the future!
Thanks! I’ll post once in a while – I just went through a couple weeks where I could hardly think, let alone blog. When I get a chance, sure, I’ll keep it up, just not at the 20 posts/month level I sometimes used to achieve.