Greetings, friends of the Academy at Houston Baptist University!
As our community grows and extends its reach outside of Houston, it is more important than ever for us to find ways to remain connected. In this newsletter, you will find information about current and upcoming events as well as an invitation to submit your own news and updates.
I’d like to draw your particular attention to the schedule of events for this year’s Academy Orientation, which will take place on August 18 from 10 am-3:30 pm. Although this orientation is primarily intended for new and returning Academy students and their parents, this event will also serve as an excellent preview of the Academy for any prospective students you may want to invite. This event will also include an Alumni Panel, so if you’re an Academy alum and you’d like to participate, please email me at TheAcademy@hbu.edu. Please make sure to read the short C.S. Lewis essay (linked below) before August 18 so you’re prepared for the Socratic discussions!
Also included in this newsletter is an announcement of our annual Academy Award winners (our red carpet was virtual this year); an interview with one of our current Academy students, who shares her favorite memories of her time in the Academy as well as advice for new and returning students; an interview with one of our current Academy faculty members, who reflects on the value of reading Dante with high school students and offers encouragement to students undertaking the rigors of dual-enrollment courses; and a list of our on-campus Academy classes offered for 2021-22.
Director, The Academy
Houston Baptist University
Featured in this issue of the Academy Newsletter:
Order of Chrysostom – Eniya Kaleemullah. Awarded to the Student Who Has Best Demonstrated the Ability to Match Clarity of Thought with Eloquence of Expression
Order of Dante – Makenna Cooper and Helen Wagner. Awarded to the Student Who Has Best Demonstrated an Artful and Compelling Command of the Written Word
Order of St. Augustine – Skylar Reyna and Leah Hotze. Awarded to the Student Who Has Best Demonstrated the Ability to Pursue the Truth Thoughtfully and Courageously through Reading, Writing and Discussion
My mom found it on the internet.
What is your favorite memory so far of your time in the Academy?
I remember when we used to meet in those classrooms in the fitness center. My Intro to Great Books A class was held in a classroom where there was a gap in the wall that separated us from the hallway because of a window. The gap was large enough to fit a hand through. My professor was talking about how God was everywhere, and it was at that moment someone in the hallway decided to rattle the blinds to the shared window. My professor said, “Jesus?” and we all burst out laughing! It was hilarious!
The Academy curriculum is rigorous; what is one piece of advice you can offer to incoming Academy students who might be daunted by the reading lists?
It’s easy to be hard on yourself when you can’t get everything done, but it’s important to remember that your best is the best you can do. Hard work almost always pays off, and every professor I’ve met at HBU appreciates that dedication. Being stressed about doing something always makes it harder. If you expect too much of yourself, you’ll never be content. You can’t give something you don’t have.
What is the most challenging book you’ve read during your time in the Academy?
The Peloponnesian War.
What is your favorite book that you’ve read during your time in the Academy? Beowulf. I’ve read it twice now—in Intro to Great Books B, and Great Books II—and I loved it both times! I really enjoyed the way the battles were written, especially Beowulf’s epic battle with the dragon!
You have taken advantage of the option for upper-classmen to enroll in traditional, one-semester courses alongside college students. What classes have you taken, and what has been your experience in these classes?
I took General Biology I and II. Both of my biology professors were very encouraging and treated me like the others students which I appreciate. I did very well in both of them, probably because I had a lot more time than the others students. I enjoyed taking these classes, and they were much cheaper!
How will you make the most of your final year in the Academy?
I’m going to take Great Books IV and General Chemistry I and II. By the time I graduate high school, I’ll probably be done with my freshman year of college!
How do you think the Academy has prepared you for life after high school?
I’ve been home-schooled for my entire life, which I greatly appreciate. However, before I took the Academy classes I hadn’t been in a traditional classroom setting before. It was the first time I’d encountered hard deadlines and unchangeable grades. It stressed me out at first, but I learned how to make schedules that helped me work efficiently. Fast forward about four years when I took General Biology I and II with college freshmen. I found myself giving them advice at times. I was very comfortable with the class structure because that was the experience I was used to. I know much more about college than I know about high school!
What might you say to a student or family who is considering enrolling in the Academy?
I feel like taking even one Academy class (including the introductions) can really prepare you for college, especially coming from a homeschooled background. Since the course is stretched out over two semesters, the load is lower than it would be if you took it in college, but you’ll get both high school and college credit. I highly recommend these classes.
My undergraduate degree is an interdisciplinary Liberal Studies bachelor’s from Florida College, and when I began working, I had a desire to pursue a graduate degree at some point. After moving to Houston, a mentor told me about the MLA program at HBU, suggesting that the exploration of history and the great texts from a Biblical worldview would be an enriching experience. That was true beyond my expectations.
This will be your third year teaching for the Academy. What drove your initial desire to teach in the Academy, and what keeps you coming back year after year?
Two things: 1) The opportunity to continue what was so enriching about my undergraduate and graduate education—an immersion in the history and literature that shaped our civilization. 2) The relationships I get to develop with students as they interact with this important material at a time in their lives when they are starting to think critically about their faith and the world around them.
We’re looking forward to having you teach on HBU’s campus this year, but for the past two years, you have taught Academy classes at one of our partner schools. What do you think are some of the benefits of a partnership between the Academy and a local school?
It’s a way to extend the reach of The Academy’s mission to more students. When I ask my students at Logos Prep at the start of the year why they are in the class, many of them (honestly) tell me they are in it for the college credit. But by the end of the year, I believe most of them are walking away with a newfound appreciation for the history and literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
This year was a challenging one in many ways. What is one surprising benefit that came out of teaching during a pandemic?
When we first went “remote” in the spring of 2020, I felt like I got to know my students better because we were communicating more frequently, meeting virtually in smaller groups, and tackling a challenging situation together. Going into the 2020-21 school year, we had more tools available to us, enabling us to stay more closely connected as a class.
What is your favorite text to teach in the Academy and why?
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. On one hand, it represents the (under-appreciated) spirit of the Middle Ages—a view of the universe constructed by God with a deep spiritual order that points to His glory. On the other hand, it previews the best of the Renaissance—an honest exploration of humanity’s filth and virtue, particularly by showing what it looks like for the individual to journey from the darkness of sin to the brilliance of the Divine Presence.
Teaching isn’t your only job; tell us a bit more about your full-time vocation. How do you balance this work with teaching?
For the last seven years, I’ve worked as a preacher and Bible teacher here in Houston (currently with the Bellaire church of Christ). In some ways, I see it all as the same ‘vocation’—building people up through a deeper knowledge of God. The Bible is the most important pathway to that goal, but the texts we read in The Academy can serve the same goal in their own way. In terms of workload, it can be a challenge to fit in all that reading, writing, and prep, but my teaching at the church is almost exclusively done on weekends and evenings, so during the week I can mostly arrange my prep time and other appointments around my Academy schedule.
You’ve got a lot going on outside the classroom other than preaching. Tell us about some of the exciting things happening at the Broadwell house.
In January 2020, we adopted our son Asher, so he is coming up on being 18 months old. The last year and a half has been such a joy for us, and life right now is full in so many ways. We are thankful for our son, and thankful to everyone at HBU and Logos for supporting us and sharing in our joy. And for adjusting while we were in Arizona for three weeks when Asher was born.
What encouragement can you offer to new and returning Academy students?
Someone once told me, “We are all influenced by books we have never read.” The books taught in The Academy have all played their role in shaping our civilization and our culture — and yet most people have not read them. This is your opportunity to do what most people will never do. The reading and writing are intentionally tough, but if you engage fully, your Academy course will challenge you, stretch you, and fill you up so that you will be a better person by the end of it.
Academy Orientation: August 18, 2021
Students and parents, mark your calendars for August 18! We will be offering an all-day Academy Orientation that you don’t want to miss. This orientation is designed primarily for new and returning Academy students and their parents, but it will also serve as an excellent preview of the Academy for any prospective families you may want to invite. Although we have events scheduled for parents all day, these events are strictly optional. Student attendance at all events is strongly encouraged, however. Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP here.
Students, make sure to read the short essay by C.S. Lewis before orientation so you will be prepared for the Socratic discussion. (Parents, feel free to read the essay, too!)