Portrait of a Graduate

By Brad Layland, CEO and Senior Consultant

As many of you know, I spend a lot of time working with classical Christian schools. The FOCUS Group works with about 15 of these schools, and my wife and I helped start Veritas Classical School here in St. Augustine. I also serve on the board of SCL – the Society for Classical Learning. It is a joy to see what God is doing through this amazing movement. Classical education has been around for hundreds of years, but the current manifestation of the movement has grown significantly in the last 30 years. 

One of the ways that classical Christian schools describe the impact of this type of education is a document called a “Portrait of a Graduate.” This document describes what a graduate from their school will look like once they finish a K-12 education. Here’s a link to the one created for Veritas Classical. Our school is only six years old, so we don’t have any graduates yet – just a vision of what a graduate will look like.

Last week I was in Harrisburg (PA) at Covenant Christian Academy, another classical Christian school, attending a meeting with major donors. Their head of school, David Sonju, had invited one of their seniors to share about her experience at the school. She was the living example of a portrait of a graduate. She was confident and able to articulate the impact of her education through the lens of a biblical worldview. She was in the world but not of the world, and I was so moved by how she integrated Scripture and Biblical principles throughout her message. 

As I sat there, I realized that she represents the hope for our country’s future. When teenagers like her enter college and go on to start their adult lives, they are prepared to face the greatest evils and confront those evils with confidence, knowing that the world was created for more and that they are participating in God making all things new.

You might be reading this blog and thinking, That’s great, but I’m not leading a classical Christian school, Brad. Perhaps not – but you are a part of an organization that is doing something that has an impact on people all around you. You do have a Portrait of a Graduate in your mind, even if it is not written down. There is an impact that you wish to have over time, whether you are part of a school, a shelter, refugee work, or food bank.

One way I help clients is by helping them tell the story of their organization. We do this by telling the story of one life that has changed. Your donors need to know that what you are doing is having a real impact on the world. And you need to know it, too – when you are discouraged or frustrated, you need the reminder that you are part of making all things new.

As I sat there listening to the student in Pennsylvania, on the verge of completing her education, I couldn’t help but think about my own children. Three of them are being classically educated here in Saint Augustine, and I can only hope they turn out to be someone like this senior! 

My challenge to you today: What is your Portrait of a Graduate? What is a story of one life changed that you could share with your donors, friends, volunteers, and even yourself? What is one story that helps you keep going, even when things get difficult?

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