St. George’s Classical Academy Opening in Boxford

Tuesday June 04, 2024

Juliana Schneider Joyce and Dr. Colin James Joyce in front of their new school

REGIONAL – If you are planning where your children should attend school next fall, a new private school has opened for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at the First Church Congregational in Boxford.
Called the St. George’s Classical Academy, the school is unlike any other in the region. It plans to offer five, multi-age classes that blend education instruction with the study of ancient Christianity.
Juliana Schneider Joyce, who has been in public education for 20 years and most recently was the principal of a Hamilton elementary school, will head the school, along with her astrophysicist husband, Dr. Colin James Joyce, a professor at the University of New Hampshire.
“This has been my dream for 10 years,” Juliana Joyce said.
Her husband, Colin, who is literally a rocket scientist, having worked on several NASA projects, will be the school’s treasurer and is helping develop the school’s curriculum. Juliana will also be the art teacher.
They are joined by Father Matthew Lavita, who began teaching in Peabody, has served as an Army officer, followed by 20 years as a state trooper. An arms expert, Lavita now runs the MIT shooting center.
St. George’s promises to provide a rigorous and joyful classical approach to forming a whole person in each student. “With an emphasis on cultivating wisdom and virtue in young hearts and minds, our students are challenged to think critically, write beautifully, speak eloquently and pursue an integrated life in service of God, family and community,” the school’s web site states.
Tuition is $16,000 per year for grades one through five. The fee for kindergarten is $11,000 for five half days, $9,000 for three days and $7,000 for two days.
The school is accepting applications for tuition assistance.
The Joyces, who met at the Orthodox Church of St. John the Russian in Ipswich, where they live, are passionate about the curriculum they are building that stresses truth and understanding. They married in January.
“St. George Classical Academy is rooted in the riches of the Orthodox Church and committed to sharing the beauty and traditions of the ancient faith with students of all faith backgrounds,” the school’s Statement of Faith says.
“Though we come from different Christian churches and traditions, every member of our faculty, staff and leadership is a practicing Christian firmly committed to the basic tenets of Christianity as outlined in the Nicene Creed and grounded in Holy Scripture,” the academy’s literature states.
Bible study, the Joyces said, will not be relegated to an hour a week. “Students are nurtured in a classical, Christian environment rich with traditions incorporated from the ancient apostolic faith,” the literature about the school states. “Scripture, lives of the saints, hymns, prayer, icons and Church history are woven throughout the curriculum.
The school approaches the humanities and classical literature seeking eternal truths and the sciences asking what humans ought to do, rather than what they can do.
The school’s website cites scripture: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” John 8:31-32.
The curriculum will be built on seven liberal arts – grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.
“They are called liberal because one who has mastered them is free to pursue knowledge in any context on their own,” the school’s literature explains.
The school curriculum will help students with self-assessment, teaching patience and even learning to clean up after themselves. “We will teach the students to be good people,” Colin said.
Juliana, who has studied at the Center for Independent Research on Classical Education, promises parents, whom she meets daily, “We will meet the students where they are,” she said.
The Joyces believe that their low-technology curriculum should teach students how to learn.
They plan to give back to the community and are looking forward to getting to know the Boxford community, although Boxford was not their first choice for the school.
And the church, which had hosted the now-closed Boxford Academy, initially turned down their proposal.
They had looked at properties in Hamilton, Beverly Farms and Ipswich before finding the educational wing of the Boxford church.
After initially being turned down, the Joyces approached the church again and were accepted.
“The congregation has been very generous,” Juliana said. The location is perfect for attracting students in families throughout the North Shore, she said.
The Joyces expect to grow her school here, adding a grade a year.
Juliana said she considered calling the school St. Nicholas Classical Academy after the early Christian bishop of Greek descent during the time of the Roman Empire. Nicholas was the patron saint of children and students, as well as sailors, merchants, archers and repentant thieves.
But she feared the academy might be nicknamed St. Nick’s, the Christmas school. Instead, she chose to name the academy after St. George, an early martyr for Christianity,
One version of the St. George story is that as a Roman soldier he refused to renounce his Christian faith and was beheaded. The more famous version is that he slew a dragon that was devouring villagers in Libya. The king of the village gave him great riches, but George donated them to the poor.
The villagers were so amazed they became Christians.

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