Harmony with the Life of the Church
The true Orthodox education is not a school or a curriculum but the life of the Church. The Church provides the fullness of the Faith to those who have ears to hear. The prayers, the feasts and fasts, the readings from Holy Scripture and the lives of the Saints, the images and the architecture—all of these serve as our most formative teachers throughout our lives. Faithful families must make religious observance a high priority in the education of their children, but many find that schools become the biggest competitors for time and attention. As a result, many Orthodox families have chosen to provide for their children's education at home.
Our online program exists to meet a felt need of Orthodox families who have decided to home educate their children. We continue to strive to make St. Raphael School an attractive alternative which fits seamlessly into the lives of faithful Orthodox families.
If you are considering home education for the first time, please follow this link.
Classical Education and the Ancient Faith
The convergence of two trends gave birth to St. Raphael School. The first was a growing number of Orthodox home schooling families searching for community and a curriculum tailored specifically to their needs—one which harmonizes with the life of the Church and gives proper emphasis to the spirituality and history of Eastern Christianity.
A second trend, the growing interest in Orthodoxy among those involved with the Classical Christian Education movement, has made St. Raphael School a natural home for those who are already invested in traditional education but long for the riches of the ancient Faith.
While there are some versions and ideas in the Classical Christian Education movement that we would not endorse, St. Raphael School considers itself a part of this wider movement to refocus K-12 education by reconsidering its purpose and nature. The Orthodox Church in North America has a small but growing presence in K-12 education, and we think the Classical Christian Educaiton movement has the potential to fruitfully challenge our parishes to think more carefully about the education and raising of our youth and to provide an opportunity to share the inheritance of our Faith with those who are longing for something more.
A Note on "Online" Education
St. Raphael School exists to serve as a catalyst for the creation of a distinctly Orthodox K-12 curriculum by using digital technology to connect homeschooling families with dedicated teachers who are spread across North America. The online medium, in spite of obvious limitations, has proven effective in establishing a real sense of community for those who do not have sufficient resources for parish schools or even homeschool co-ops. Online instruction and networking is a "means to an end," that end being the development of Orthodox K-12 educational projects and resources at the parish level. Our students find that lasting friendships and real community can be found to support their growth in the Faith through regular online meetings.
It is worth noting that "online" education is also a misnomer in that our program merely combines time tested practice of a home education correspondence courses with the added advantage of regular live audio/video meetings. The most important feature in this, as with all K-12 education, is the role of the parents. Our students are not receiving an "online education" but a "home education," and our online courses exist to support them in that project.