John Fowler Teaches Latin at Valor San Antonio

Valor San Antonio

We are proud to share this Teacher Tales guest post by John Fowler, Latin Teacher and Assistant Headmaster at Valor San Antonio, sharing his perspective about teaching in a classical education school.

Hi! I’m John Fowler. I’m currently the lead Latin teacher for the fourth, seventh, and eighth grade students at Valor San Antonio, a small public charter school in Texas. I’m also the Assistant Headmaster of Upper School, but I’m primarily a teacher. It’s my first love and life’s passion.

Our vision at Valor San Antonio is to inspire wisdom through wonder (Sapientia Per Admirationem). We’re a classical charter school, in which we wholly pursue the good, true, and beautiful.

What Makes Valor San Antonio Unique

Sir Isaac Newton is credited with the quote, “We stand on the shoulders of giants.” The context of this may warrant some explanation. What Newton was referring to was the wisdom passed down to his own generation from the earliest lovers of wisdom as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome. We take a hands-on and immersive approach to teaching the lessons of our progenitors: in our classes you’ll see and hear students conversing in Latin, you’ll hear the singing of a class or club choir ringing through the halls, you’ll read student calligraphy hung in the art class, and you’ll smell the flowers planted by students unafraid to get their hands dirty planting in our flowerbeds. This is all part of our curriculum to inspire wonder. We believe the world is literally filled with wonder, which we’re eager to share with the young hearts we’re entrusted to teach.

Our approach to teaching and leading is to join with great thinkers and writers such as Aristotle, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Austen, Burke, and more. We do so in a loving way to encourage active participation in class seminar discussion of fundamental texts and precepts. Unlike other classical charter schools, we don’t treat beauty and goodness as objects to be observed passively. Rather we immerse ourselves and our students with beautiful art, noble topics of discourse, and wonder at the amazing world around us. And in matters of leadership, we believe that the parents are the primary teachers. We pride ourselves on proactive communication and invite families into the great discussion handed down to us by those “giants” whose precepts we strive to understand. This quality of education isn’t new, but it has historically been reserved for only the finest of private schools. We believe that the best education is the best for all.

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How Valor Helps Students Excel and Have Fun

High student achievement comes not from teaching to state tests. Rather, we believe that high student achievement comes from forming the whole person in wisdom and virtue. We take moral education seriously. All other things being equal, we believe that the good life is more than academic success. If our students are accepted into good schools, and they are, that’s great! But how much better is it to grow to be a good person and still possess all the benefits of a fine erudition.

Whether it’s to give context to an upcoming field trip or to immerse ourselves in noble discourse, we like to read and discuss, even debate, difficult texts in seminar. We teachers do this frequently as well. The seminar, led Socratically by experts in each discipline, is true leisure and we leave with smiles and a greater appreciation for the views of one another. Students gather for curricular celebrations to highlight, in fun and community, the books they are reading together in the classroom: celebrations inspired by books like The Secret Garden and Stuart Little, for example, hosted in partnership between our teachers and Parent Service Organization, support our endeavor to develop the whole person in authentic communities for a full human life.

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Growing As an Educator At Valor

Valor hosts and is cultivating a myriad of professional development activities and retreats designed to inspire wonder in our teachers. As a teacher of languages, I frequently improve my own speaking skills and have opportunities to learn from the best practices employed by other teachers to grow in my vocation. Valor is a beacon on the hill for their teachers, providing robust learning and community building through our Valor Institute, a branch of learning wholly dedicated to pouring into our teachers.

I’ve worked at other classical charter schools who espoused the necessity of moral formation, but I’ve never seen it lived so well as I’ve experienced at Valor. The faculty and leadership at all levels constantly and consistently act with love and charity. Virtuous teachers instill virtue in their students better at Valor than anywhere else. I previously worked with our headmaster, Dr. Mark Discher, at another classical charter school. When I heard that he was moving to San Antonio to start another school, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to build upon our previous success.

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Supporting Parents Choosing Schools

At Valro, we really do place parents as the primary educators of our students. If anyone is drawn by our mission to form the whole person in a community of friendship, please check out our website and don’t hesitate to reach out directly. We have regular school tours and open house nights to show families the marvelous work to which we have dedicated ourselves.

School choice allows for parents to better discern the quality of a school, from the leadership to the classroom. It provides the freedom for our teachers to employ tried and well tested curricula for the benefit of our school. As a parent, I want schools to compete as well as they are able in order to provide the very best education for my children. I believe that what we provide at Valor is the very best in here in San Antonio.

Charter Moms Chats

Watch John Fowler, Latin Teacher and Assistant Headmaster at Valor San Antonio, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on April 25, 2024 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

John Fowler

John Bruce Fowler III is a teacher of Greek and Latin at Valor San Antonio, a small public school in Texas. John’s love of language, history, and mythology is evident in his writing and teaching. John’s first priority is to share compelling stories in a noble language that promote a desire to learn and cultivate compassion for others.

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