Our goal is to glorify God by equipping students with the tools necessary for a lifetime of learning and by encouraging them to live and think within a Christian worldview which is grounded in the Bible.
Our mission is to support and enhance the efforts of Christian homeschooling families by providing a classical and Christian tutorial service which emphasizes the methodology of the trivium — the educational foundation of our Western culture. Beginning in grade three, we emphasize literary excellence, sound reasoning, and appreciation of our Biblical and Western tradition, and assist students in gaining a love for learning, while developing critical reasoning and communication skills.
What we mean when we say we are…
Christian. The board of directors of Gideon Study Center endeavors to provide a tutorial experience for families that is unwaveringly biblical. See our Statement of Faith for a more precise articulation of our beliefs. Because it is not enough in today’s relativistic society to simply claim to be a Christian, we encourage our families to acquaint themselves with the Statement to understand our conviction to ascribe to a Scripturally driven faith.
Classical. Gideon Study Center believes the enduring teaching method of the Trivium most effectively tailors curriculum to a child’s cognitive development. Deliberate selection of quality learning, thinking and reading resources for the purpose of modeling, analysis and presentation is at the core of the development of such a classical program. This practically works out in the instruction of Latin in the grammar years, Logic in the dialectic years, and Omnibus in the Rhetoric years. We offer the Christian family a proven method for educating students to become confident and articulate thinkers who are able to read perceptively, express themselves well, and understand the ideas and events which have shaped our culture. For an outstanding Introduction to Classical Education, we believe this booklet by Dr. Christopher Perrin, available for free here as a downloadable PDF, will be a great service to you.
Homeschooling. We are a study center for Christian homeschooling families. Parents and tutors work together in partnership to create a climate where students are able to develop in knowledge, character, and faith. Ultimately, the responsibility for each year’s educational effort lies with the parent, who is the Homeschool Administrator. Without wishing to state the obvious, class lesson plans are designed to follow on, or to instruct for, the successful completion of home assignments. Gideon adheres closely to its mission statement, providing tutorial services for those classes offered each year; the remaining subjects required by the state being the responsibility of parents. Families who are new to homeschooling are encouraged to seek assistance in navigating the PA Homeschool Law. In addition, families are encouraged to seek out or plan extra-curricular activities that may provide an enhancement to classroom instruction.
Tutorial Service. Gideon Study Center is not a school. We do not fit, nor do we try to fit, Pennsylvania’s legal definition of a school. To someone observing classes on a Tuesday or Thursday, we might look like a small, private school but we are not. While there are two class days with tutors, other students, tables and chairs, the bulk of the work is completed at home with parents’ guidance, help and structure: Gideon meets for 64 days out of the 180 days of schooling required by Pennsylvania, providing support on class days for the work being done at home on the intermittent days.
Gideon Study Center’s primary goals are to hire Christian tutors with integrity who possess a passion and aptitude for the subjects they teach. Some of our tutors are certified because they come from public or private schools; however, some of our tutors are not certified. For instance, retired chemical engineers may teach chemistry and former professional writers may guide our writing classes. On the other hand, a masters degreed engineer teaches grammar level history as well as upper level maths and sciences, because she is as passionate about this field as she is those she’s done her matriculation in. The tutors covet their classroom time, having at best 3 hours a week for instruction (upper level maths and sciences), sometimes meeting only once every other week.
Here is perhaps a good point to address a question we are often asked: How is Gideon Study Center different from a co-op?
There are three significant differences between Gideon and many cooperatives. The first is that we are actually a legally incorporated non-profit organization with a staff of employees. The second difference relates to the first in that our staff is screened and interviewed. Our staff includes some parents of students, but many of the tutors are from outside our family base. Our goal is to staff Gideon with the highest caliber of tutors possible.
Finally, as a board-run organization, Gideon Study Center is not likely to change with the ebb and flow of trends. A small board guarantees quick decision making; a respect for the mission statement, the by-laws, the policies and the family handbook ensures a system of checks and balances.
Gratefully, the founders of Gideon Study Center look to Blackburn Study Center (and to Blackburn’s mentor, Granite Classical Tutorials) as the source of inspiration for our South Hills-based classical tutorial service. Had the founders of Blackburn not followed through on their mission in 2001 to provide the same above services to homeschooling families in the North Hills, six families from the South Hills would not have been drawn to participate in their excellent program, discover the joys of classical homeschooling, and then be compelled to join forces to offer the same to families in their own communities.
In the fall of 2008, it was deemed the time was right and the discussions began. Five of the six families organized as a steering committee (which included two then-current Blackburn board members, one tutor, and several individuals involved in Christian education and/or church leadership for several years), surveyed the homeschooling community and determined there was sufficient interest in a classical study center in the South Hills to warrant further exploration. What was unexpected was the enthusiasm from South Hills homeschoolers! More rapidly than any of us anticipated we moved toward forming a board of directors, publicizing Gideon Study Center, hosting open houses, accepting applications and hiring tutors.
To God be the Glory.