Measuring Up: How Does Trinity Define Student Success?
“Trinity Christian School exists to educate students to the glory of God by pursuing excellence for mind and heart.” This is Trinity’s mission statement, which defines who we are as a school and directs everything we do, teach, and stand for. It also ensures that Trinity’s standards of student success remain biblical as we partner with Christian families in “raising children up in the way they should go.”
At Trinity, we are committed to academic excellence, and our students’ test scores consistently reflect this commitment. However, academics are not our only standard of achievement. While some institutions measure success by a mere letter grade, GPA, or acceptance letter, our primary aim is to ground students in God’s truth, instill in them the courage to speak and live that truth boldly, and inspire them to serve as Christ served.
These standards for our students are different from the world’s typical definitions of success. The world says to young people that they are only as valuable as their achievements and contributions to society, and their worth depends on their personal accomplishments, their grades, or what college they attend. In contrast, Trinity’s teachers keep God at the center of every classroom because we know that apart from him, all worldly knowledge and success is in vain. As Jesus asks in Matthew 16:26, “…what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Therefore, while we value academic accomplishments, we recognize that they are ultimately meaningless if our students’ souls are ignored in the process. And according to the data, young people’s souls have been increasingly ignored.
A 2017 survey by Lifeway found that 66 percent of high school students stop attending church when they go to college. Even more disturbingly, a 2019 Pew Research survey found that the decline of Christianity is continuing at a rapid pace: 65 percent of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Even among young adults who were raised in religious homes, three in 10 (30 percent) say they no longer affiliate with a religion as an adult, according to a 2019 American Perspectives survey. Among those adults who do self-identify as Christians, young people between the ages of 18 and 35 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents in a Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research study (2015). In other words, young Christians are at an increasingly high risk of falling away from the faith, and many of those who don’t outwardly fall away may be biblically illiterate, unknowingly holding beliefs that are contrary to Christianity.
Today’s students need more than academic guidance and support; they are desperate for spiritual guidance and support. Our students are not simply numbers on a roster; they are human beings, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We cannot separate their education from their personhood, because their spiritual lives are inextricably intertwined with their educational experience as they learn about the world God made. They cannot accurately understand the world without understanding its Creator, and they cannot know themselves without first knowing their Father. Therefore, our teachers do not limit their teaching to their subject matter, but also teach truth, courage, and service in every class Even more importantly, they model truth, courage, and service in their everyday lives. In a world growing increasingly hostile toward Jesus and his followers, young people today need this example more than ever.
Our school aims to equip students for the spiritual warfare that awaits them after they leave Trinity. Through our Christian Studies classes, we impart truth that will act as an anchor in whatever storms come. Through the Senior Thesis, we equip them with the courage to defend their faith when they are inevitably challenged by people and circumstances. Through our commitment to service, we inspire them to live selfless and humble lives in the service of God and others.
Indeed, this is the true measure of success for Trinity students: does their faith stand firm when they experience “fiery trials to test them? Have they built their houses upon the Rock? Or will their sand foundation be swept away come high tide?
About the Author
Jo Wilbur is a Communications Specialist at TCS and proud JMU grad who loves writing, shopping, and making new friends. She and her husband live in Purcellville and spend time together cooking plant-based meals, singing worship songs, and volunteering as Young Life leaders in their community.