Kempton New Church School

The Purpose of Kempton New Church School:

The focus of the Kempton New Church School is to help children develop into good neighbors and good citizens, who know and care about what is important, and who can be useful and happy members of society both in this life and the world to come. The primary aim is to teach them how to love others, as in Matthew:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God in thy whole heart, and in thy whole soul, and in thy whole thought. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Matthew 22:37

Also in the Arcana Caelestia:

Love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor are the very being of heaven and of the church.
Arcana Caelestia 8988:3

This love is the central theme of New Church education, and other aspects take their life from it. Teachers and parents should always keep in mind that this is the main purpose, and that everything done in the school is to relate to it. Academic achievement, while important, is not the main thing. It is one of the means towards the end of living a useful life of love and charity. The following are some of the principal ways that this end is approached:

  • Worship: Each day begins with the worship of the Lord, with prayer, singing, and instruction.
  • The Word: Students learn the truths of the Word in morning worship, in regular religion classes, in church on Sunday, and in other classes when appropriate. Children memorize passages from the Word regularly. In addition teachers and parents are given the opportunity to pursue this study at weekly doctrinal classes, in their homes, and at other times.
  • Charity: Students are taught to treat each other well, both by example and instruction. The emphasis is on maintaining a sphere of charity and good will in all relationships among the students, among the adults, and between adults and students. The evils which are opposite to charity are to be shunned, and this shunning is the primary way of gaining spiritual life:
  • Spiritual life is acquired solely by a life according to the commandments in the Word. These commandments are given in a summary in the Decalogue, namely, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet the goods of others. These commandments are the commandments that are to be done, for when a man does these his works are good and his life is spiritual, because so far as a man shuns evils and hates them, so far he wills and loves goods.
    Apocalypse Explained 1027
  • Uses: A key to the practice of charity is to learn to be useful both to oneself and to others. This is primarily taught at home, but at the school, too. The students are taught self-discipline, the importance of effort, initiative, cooperation and responsibility. They participate in chores and work parties that help maintain the school and grounds.

These four primary avenues have many branches, but they all lead to the central purpose of assisting parents to encourage the loves in children that will result in happy and useful lives. The promise of the New Church is that people can be led to a true worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, a life of uses, conjugial love, and therefore to heaven, through the understanding and practice of the truths of the Second Coming.

Other Important Themes:

  • Make Religion Truly the Core of the School: Religion ought to be related whenever possible to all subject matter in the curriculum. The Word, including the Heavenly Doctrine, also forms the basis for teaching methods, student (and teacher) behavior, values, attitudes, work ethic, and respect for property.
  • Protect Innocence: One of the most precious qualities of childhood is innocence. Every effort should be made to preserve that innocence, and to use materials and methods that are appropriate to each age. We also have policies of chaperonage and rules about teacher-student relationships to protect everyone against the attacks of the hells. (See Protection of Children.)
  • Lead by Delight, using the Power of Ultimates: While discipline and obedience are essential, the freedom of students is to be guarded carefully. This is the case when children are led to understanding by means of delights. Leading by delights is promoted especially by the use of ultimates. By “ultimates” we mean things affecting the five senses, the things of the three kingdoms of nature, the concrete rather than the abstract, and doing rather than simply listening and watching. Teachers are encouraged to involve the students in hands-on learning activities. Ultimates such as these have a power in them which helps to induce a love of learning. In particular, KNCS has a focus on:
    • Nature Science: Since the school is surrounded by mountains and woodlands, an emphasis in nature studies is a logical development.
    • Performing Arts: Singing and acting in front of others promotes confidence and teamwork. It is an activity requiring effort and discipline, and which almost all children find rewarding. Every child in the school from kindergarten on participates in at least one play or similar activity during the school year.
  • Encouragement of Parental Participation: The school was begun by parents and the strength of the school rests on the involvement of parents and other members of the community. This is done in several ways:
    • Volunteer Teaching and Tutoring: Parents and others spend hours in the school assisting teachers, sometimes teaching whole courses. This is a tremendous asset to the school and is greatly appreciated.
    • Counsel: Important decisions are arrived at by discussion with faculty and parents. Major decisions, such as whether to build something or whether to add a new grade, are made by a vote of the whole society.
    • Committees: Parents and others are also involved in committees for hiring, planning, building, etc. Maintaining and encouraging these activities keeps the ownership of the school in the hands of parents.
    • The Physical Plant: Everyone works together to maintain the building and premises, keep the gardens, and do repairs and additions.
    • Recognition of the Primacy of the Home: We regard the family as the primary child-raising agency. In practical terms, this means the following things, among others:
      • A Shorter Day: The school day goes from 7:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., five days a week, 180 days a year, for grades 1–6, with kindergarten having less and older students three hours and twenty minutes per week more. This means that students are usually home for lunch, and free to spend the afternoons with their families.
      • Regard for the Masculine and Feminine: We try to provide appropriate male and female spheres for the different developmental needs of boys and girls through distinctly masculine and feminine activities and assignments.

These are some of the practices by which we aim to operate the Kempton New Church School. The essential, however, is to keep the two great commandments, to love to the Lord above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves.