When people hear that we are starting a new school for boys in a time of declining enrollments, when the cost to educate is extremely high, and when there is so-called “competition” from many well-established and highly-rated schools, they often ask “What in God’s name are you thinking!” I like to respond “Exactly! It is in God’s name that we are thinking!” At the core of our mission is the idea that it is very important to teach young boys the simplest rudiments of a life of virtue at an early age. No matter what religious traditions their family embraces (or none), these “habits of the heart” (a phrase first coined by Alexis de Tocqueville) will place them in good stead for the challenges that life will bring them.
For followers of Christ, it is part of our own life mission to help people of all faiths to aspire to a virtuous life. There is no specific list of virtues that we will foster. We know from experience as well as from the great writers (Socrates, Aristotle, Augustine, Benjamin Franklin, etc.) that the struggle to live any virtue helps in the struggle to live all virtues. These are the types of life lessons that we want to impart to the young.
So, again, how are we different? Well, first of all, we believe offering this formation to boys in a single-sex environment with faculty role models goes a very long way to planting good seeds in the heart. Second, as parents of our students will come to appreciate, this focus on developing virtue is not ancillary to our mission but rather intrinsic to it. Third, we are convinced that in order to transmit this message effectively, faculty members must not only embrace this approach but also be striving to live virtue themselves. The natural outcome of this approach is that faculty members will develop the language of virtue and thus be able to communicate it to their charges; they will be keen to recognize virtue in the boys and to shape it, and they will be excited about transmitting their knowledge and experience to those entrusted to them.
In another context, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously asked: “Who will take responsibility for raising the next generation?” On behalf of the parents, administration and faculty of the Mill Brook School I am happy to respond: We will.