Why We Became a Founding Family at Agamim

Last year, a quiet chatter began in the Twin Cities’ Jewish community. Hushed voices asked, “Did you hear there is a new school opening? What have you heard?” The buzz was about a new public charter school opening in the fall called Agamim Classical Academy that would operate a lot like a private school and teach Hebrew.

Our family had been happily tucked away in an excellent school, but one of my children was struggling to find his footing. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but I was committed to the school and the community around it. I had no interest in looking at alternative schools. However, after a number of negative school incidents with no resolution in sight, I reluctantly had to admit that our situation wasn’t working. Finally, one warm spring day my husband spoke the words aloud, “I think we should check out Agamim.”

I had such terrible anxiety at the thought of uprooting my children. What if the switch was wrong and yet, what if the switch was right? I had a newfound appreciation for parents who seemed to glide effortlessly through these types of potentially life-altering decisions. I decided that attending one informational session wouldn’t be too much of a commitment. However, I was determined not to like Agamim.

We attended an informational session at Agamim and I was pleasantly surprised. We met the director, Miranda Morton, who was poised, warm, and funny; immediately I wanted to be her best friend forever. Mrs. Morton explained to us what “Classical” education is. She told us it centers on the “Trivium,” a Latin word that describes the three core disciplines of a classical education: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. According to Agamim’s website, the three disciplines “form the basis of the seven liberal arts that prepare students to thrive in a free society. Instruction in virtue is a critical counterpart to intellectual formation as it is not our only goal to educate people who are smart; we also seek to educate people who are good.”

Although this explanation is sophisticated, it is exactly how Miranda Morton speaks. I long for a pocket thesaurus each time she and I talk together; I might feel self-conscious if she wasn’t so congenial.

After the informational session, I was hooked. The rest of the tour continued and we discussed after school activities, bussing, uniforms, homework, and yes, Hebrew. Each conversation my husband or I had with the staff only confirmed that Agamim was going to be the right choice for our family.

We have one child in second grade and another child in kindergarten attending Agamim this inaugural year, and we could not be more pleased with it. In every task they undertake, the staff works tirelessly with compassion and thoughtfulness. As a former educator, I have been impressed with the quality and content of the students’ work. A tedious task, such as practicing penmanship, is turned into a beautiful humanities lesson as the children practice writing poems by Langston Hughes. As a parent, I was thrilled to see that this was the type of work my second grader was producing.

My children are thriving academically and emotionally, each challenged at his individual level. I have been surprised to find that not only has their Hebrew blossomed, but also their love for Israel. Our children, who were once planning a trip to Disney World like other kids their age might do, are now planning a family trip to Israel. Topping their list of sites to see are the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. Our family’s experience with Agamim has truly enriched our lives.

For years, every night when I tucked my children in at bedtime, I would ask them, “What was the best part of your day?” My once-troubled child used to answer, “Nothing.” Now he answers confidently, “Everything!” It seems that the life-altering change I feared so much has been surprisingly easy to make.