We are excited to welcome Mr. Jed Stalker to our community! He is the newest member of our Upper School Humanities team. We hope this short interview helps you get to know him before meeting him in person. We are excited to have him on board!
What will you be teaching at Covenant?
I’ll be teaching tenth and eleventh grade English Lit and History, which is American and Early Modern. This is exciting because those are more or less my two specialties in terms of literature, and the English Reformation and Civil War has always been one of my intellectual hobbies. I’m also teaching 9th grade writing and Rhetoric III (senior thesis), which will be fun. Augustine says “I have learned much by writing that I did not know before.”
When did you decide to become a teacher?
My mother and grandfather were both teachers. My brother and two brothers-in-law are both teachers. I’ve always been interested in education, and thought I’d be involved in teaching in some way. I’ve been a teacher at various levels for eight years, and it seems to me to be a meaningful way to work for the Kingdom.
What excites you most about teaching at Covenant?
I love the professionalism and the thoughtful nature of Covenant. For instance, the ideal of “The Excellent Student” on the website helped to sell me on coming to teach at the school; grounding our education in humility is a big deal.
Is there anything you’d like your future students to know about you or your classes?
We will work hard, and we will think hard about the books we read, and we will also try to enjoy the books. In a book called ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound said, “WARNING: gloom and despondency is out of place in even the most rigorous study of an art originally intended to make glad the heart of man.” Before or after class, I will happily give students advice about their fantasy football teams, but the advice will invariably be wrong.
What is one of the best books you’ve read in the past year?
Annie Dillard’s book An American Childhood was a remarkable memoir, both in content and in terms of style. It gives an astonishing account of the confusions of adolescence. Dillard can help a person become a more careful thinker, a more enthusiastic learner, and more attuned to the mysteries of religion.
Tell us about your family!
I have an excellent wife, who helps me do all the important things in life. We’ve been married almost nine years, and we even like each other a large majority of the time. We have three daughters: Beatrice is named for the agent of God’s grace in Dante, Lucy is named for CS Lewis’s youngest Pevensie, and Jane is named for the magnificent Miss Austen.
What are some things you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love running, talking about football, and reading books. My family and I like taking walks with our strollers and playing in parks. We’re involved in the local church and small groups. We look forward to getting to know many Covenant families!
As we announced a few months ago, we will be welcoming a new Grammar School Dean to Covenant for the 2020-2021 school year. We are pleased to introduce Mrs. Ashley Cossin and hope this short interview helps our community get to know her a little better. We can’t wait for you to meet her in person!
Tell us about your family. How old are your children? What are their interests?
My husband Jim and I have been married for 21 years. We met while we were students at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Our oldest child, Cana, is 18. She is a freshman at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. At PHC, she plays on the women’s soccer team and she is a captain of the freshman Mock Trial team. James is fifteen and is currently a sophomore. This year he is involved with speech and debate. He also has experience with robotics and would like to join the robotics team at Covenant. John is 12 and in 7th grade. He plays club soccer, and he looks forward to playing on the Covenant soccer team.
What are some things you enjoy doing outside of work?
Of course I love to spend time with my children and my husband. Activities we enjoy outdoors include camping, hiking, and going to the beach. When relaxing indoors, I love reading, solving crosswords, Sudoku, and putting together a challenging puzzle. Meeting friends for a cup of coffee or a meal is also one of my favorite ways to spend free time.
What is one of the best books you’ve read in the last year?
One book that I found especially encouraging was Treasures of Encouragement by Susan Betters. This book prompts Christians to earnestly ponder how they can encourage others. Susan Betters recounts many personal anecdotes in the book including losing her sixteen year old son. She tells of the important role the members of her church played in supporting her through this difficult time. The book reminds believers of the importance of assisting one another during times of hardship.
Who are one or two people who have really influenced your thinking about education?
Doug Wilson’s book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning provided my first glimpse into classical Christian education. It is remarkable that Wilson remembered reading an essay by Dorothy Sayers while he attended seminary as he contemplated creating an academically challenging Christian education for his oldest child, Rebekah.
While I was working at Veritas Classical Academy, I had the privilege of hearing his daughter, Rebekah Merkle, speak to our staff. Her insightful answers to both education and social issues revealed the excellent education that she received at the Logos School in Idaho.
What advice would you give to a family just beginning their journey in classical Christian education?
I would encourage them not to worry about their children’s grades for the first few months. The education that Covenant offers may differ greatly from the curriculum that they have used previously. Also, a significant amount of the curriculum used in the grammar school is cumulative. Students entering in the later years of grammar school often require several months to adjust. Lower grades on schoolwork or tests may not reflect the substantial amount of new information that your child has acquired.
For parents of logic and rhetoric students, I would encourage them to talk with their children about their classes. Most parents did not receive a classical education, and we can all glean from the wisdom and insight that our children are receiving in their classes.
What do you think you will miss most about being a classroom teacher?
I will definitely miss the daily interaction with my students. During the school year, teachers get to know the children in their classroom and their families on an extremely personal level. These close relationships with fellow believers was an aspect of teaching that I greatly enjoyed. Although I loved being a classroom teacher, I also look forward to the new challenge of being a full time administrator and the opportunity to work with a larger number of families and students.
What were some of the things you appreciated most about Covenant during your visit in January?
I absolutely loved the two days that I spent at the school in January! I have worked at two smaller classical Christian schools in southern California. While at Covenant, I enjoyed observing an established K-12 classical Christian school with veteran teachers and clearly established policies and procedures. In addition, I loved witnessing the focus upon God and His word. From the scripture verses in the lunch room, singing hymns with the entire student body on Thursday, and singing with the staff on Friday before students arrive, it was apparent that Covenant was a school striving to glorify God during the entire school day. I recognized that Covenant would be an excellent fit for me and for our children.
What excites you most about working at Covenant?
I look forward to having the opportunity to use my classroom and administrative experience to help parents further their children’s education. Classical Christian education offers today’s students an outstanding academic and solidly biblical education, and this makes me excited for the next generation of Christian children. I am thankful to have an opportunity to continue serving the Lord at Covenant Christian Academy.