August 19, 2020 530 PM
ALPINE — Alpine Christian School Director Ginger Turner has announced that Dr. Joshua R. Farris is the new executive director after earlier staff reassignments.
The school, which recently moved to a new building at 1901 Loop Drive in north Alpine, opened for kindergarten through fifth grade Monday and will open for sixth grade through high school the day after Labor Day with about 60 students.
A national debate centers on concerns over whether schools can open to face-to-face instruction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Farris, in an interview on KVLF and KALP-FM radio this week, said that the school “believes strongly that we need to move on and not play into deep fears, justified or not.”
“If we look at the data itself, I don’t think there is an overwhelming reason to be so fearful of school or being together, at least with some safe, strict social distancing in place,” he said.
“I think most people are down-to-earth, sensical people who are saying the same thing, that we need to move on and education is a priority,” he said. “We are training some of the best children in the world here at Alpine Christian School and we need to press on.”
Dr. Farris earned his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol and his Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Seminary.
His record of teaching theology and philosophy of religion includes stints as a former professor and lecturer at several prestigious universities, including Houston Baptist Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Auburn University of Montgomery and the Chester and Margaret Paluch Professor at University of Saint Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary.
While serving at Houston Baptist Seminary in 2018, Dr. Farris was named by the School of Humanities for the Piper Professor nomination. He also served at the honors college and the departments of great books, theology and philosophy.
Dr. Farris has published more than 40 articles and numerous long reviews in several theological and philosophical journals.
He has co-edited a number of books and publications on various theological topics, including his most recent publication, “An Introduction to Theological Anthropology: Humans, Both Creaturely and Divine.” He has served as a referee on numerous journal articles and has presented at numerous academic conferences on interdisciplinary studies, philosophy, theology and ethics.
And he admits to being “under 40” years old.
His teaching method implements the Socratic method of discussion with a religious and philosophical perspective and encourages a study of the great books of Western civilization.
Asked what the Socratic method entails, Dr. Farris said there are different definitions but the one he likes best is “student-centered discussions, question-answers seminars.”
“It takes us into the text where we are exploring the text as a whole being, so it is holistic in nature,” he said. “It invests the whole mind, the senses and the heart. We teach to the virtues. We don’t teach to the test.”
Dr. Farris said many traditional schools have “forgotten the past and how vital that is to moving forward and thinking well about the world. Our students are some of the best, most sophisticated critical thinkers but, not only that, they are good people.”
He said one of the courses ACC offers is Latin because it is “the foundation of classical education. It is not just about another foreign language. It is foundational and has had a pivotal role in the development of Western civilization.”
Latin teacher Susana Busey suspended a race for mayor this year to concentrate on the new goals at the school.
“I plan to teach a couple of courses including community education through science and faith and how they relate,” Dr. Farris said.
Another course will be on death and dying as dealt with in Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”
To enroll a student, he said the best way is by an online application at alpinechristianschool.com, “Or reach out,” he said. “Come chat with me. That would be great.”