From Prep School to Church Basement: Peter Baur’s Story
In the early 1990’s, the “good life” found Peter Baur working as an admissions officer at his alma mater, the 150-year-old, top rated, preparatory school in the state of Pennsylvania. His institution was among the elite power-schools that broker entrance into the top-tier, ivy-league-class colleges. Baur’s job took him to schools where students arrived by limousine or helicopter. Because he worked at the school, his kids attended free. By most measures, Baur’s kids were getting the best education America had to offer.
That’s when Baur happened to attend a lecture by Douglas Wilson on classical Christian education (CCE). Baur scoured Philadelphia for a classical Christian option. When he found one, his boys were moved to a school in a church basement. Soon, Baur was relocating to Memphis, Tennessee, where he put his children in Westminster Academy. He took a job at Westminster soon thereafter. In 2009, his oldest son graduated from the Academy and went on to become an engineer.
“Every single aspect of his education convinced me that [my son] had gotten a far better education than he would have at the top-rated school in Pennsylvania. And further, he was an entirely different man—because of the aspirations, the things required of him at that school. I’m forever grateful for [classical Christian education].”
Baur now works as the headmaster of Faith Christian School in Roanoke, VA. His commitment to CCE is deeply rooted in the effects he has seen in his own family.
Having been through it and seen the results, I’m passionate…and part if what makes me passionate is that I realize that in all of time and eternity, by God’s grace and mercy, he allowed my son to have a far better education than I did… He went from an environment where [the best he could aspire to] was to get a good job. Instead, he went to a type of school that asked, “How do we move this child’s heart to what is good, true, beautiful, and virtuous and how do we equip him to be…a redemptive agent in culture? Rather than give him information he can regurgitate… we’re going to engage him in such a way that there’s a profound respect for his capability.
In Baur’s estimation, CCE is the best way to foster image-bearing, or the image of Christ in every student. “There are so many different roles played in any great story. We can see, or should be able to see, how our students fill those roles,” Bauer said.
Some ask Baur how his son became an engineer after attending a classical school. After all, classical schools spend a lot of time in the humanities. “He had a very sound science background, and his strength in the humanities helped him to become a far better engineer. For one example, he can think across disciplines. Second, he can communicate. … He distinguishes himself from his peers because of his [classical Christian education].”
CCE thrives because educators like Baur have searched for and identified the faded image of Christ in students. And, these educators have seen the potency of classical Christian education in sharpening and polishing that image to better reflect the affections of our Savior. It is how God designed teachers and learners. It was that sense that prompted Baur to withdraw from the well-established halls of his school days to become the classical Christian leader he is today.
PETER BAUR is head of school at Faith Christian Academy in Roanoke, VA. He has led schools and churches in strategic planning, has presented at various classical Christian education conferences, and been a featured speaker at schools around the nation.