The CiRCE Insitute & Santa Cruz

We are BIG fans of the West Coast – but it has taken something really special to get us out to California twice a year. Alongside photography, JP is also passionate about Christian Classical Education. Now this may seem like an odd pairing. How can a person be passionate about two things that seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum? 

This journey of Christian Classical Education & our pursuit of photography bloomed at nearly the exact same time. Ryland had just finished his engineering degree at Georgia Tech, we had been married for one whole year, & the Lord had called us to Greenville, SC. What we didn’t know was that He had a wealth of community & opportunity waiting for us! All we had to do was to step out in faith & answer His call. With an education background, JP immediately began searching for teaching positions. Nothing was opening up! We began to wonder what the Lord had in store for her… 

Meanwhile, we put the word out. It turns out that a friend of a friend (don’t you love it when that happens?) had heard of a brand-new school that was about to open & they needed ONE more teacher! JP applied & was hired three days later. We quickly packed & moved to Greenville ten days earlier than we had originally planned for JP to set up her classroom & get ready for the coming year. During training, it became apparent that something was different about this school. They value art, music, deep conversations, & beautiful, timeless literature. Where had this been all of our lives? We dove in head first & began one of the most beautiful journeys thus far in our marriage. 

It was about two months into JP’s first year of teaching at her school when she came home & told Ryland, “I have got to create! I am teaching, pursuing the arts, & seeing how the Lord’s Truth is woven into each subject. I have no other way to express myself other than to CREATE!” As an expression of worship & praise she picked up the camera & began to shoot. That winter, we started brainstorming about a business & in the spring of 2014, we started our own entrepreneurial adventure. Did we know what we were doing? Absolutely not! And that made the adventure all the sweeter.

Fast forward to August, 2015, when JP began a three year Classical Educator certificate program with The CiRCE Institute. Her class meets twice a year in the sweet little town of Felton, California just outside of the coastal city of Santa Cruz. Nestled in the redwoods, women from all over the country gather to discuss Great Books, learn more about Christian classical education, & practice teaching in front of one another. To be honest, joining the CiRCE Institute was almost a selfish endeavor. Was it possible to enter into a community for the next three years & have the honor of learning & growing beside other women who are striving to study & preserve Christian classical education? Not only that, but to have a teacher pouring into you each week as you work so hard & give yourself away to your students & parents? Now THAT is a gift! 

But as with any continuing education program, there also comes the hard work & dedication. Digging deep into books, writing papers, attending an online class once a week – each of those things requires discipline & sacrifice! But this sacrifice is not just for us; by no means. The Truths we learn along the way will be handed down to our children & by the Lord’s grace, to our children’s children. Through the CiRCE Apprenticeship, we are both learning to approach art, music, books, a dinner party, a new relationship, a walk downtown – ALL of life – with eyes wide open & childlike faith. Once aware of your senses – of how tasting, seeing, & touching something good, true, & beautiful refreshes your heart, mind, & soul – there is no turning back. You are a changed person. You are more human today than you were yesterday!

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