Core Values

The first pillar of the American Classical Leadership Education® is Core Values.

The Core Values are the culture that enriches the fertile environment for the development of servant leaders. They are the language or currency used to express our leadership and character-building educational program.

Our 10 Core Values

America’s Heritage is celebrated here because for the first time in the annals of history this ideal was declared in our founding documents: “All men are created equal.” Indeed, “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”[1] Our heritage is a tradition of servant leaders who pursue these principles for themselves and others. These universal principles, and America’s promotion of them, have been a force for good and unity amongst diverse nations, communities, and families around the world.

We appreciate America’s history and recognize the great men and women who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to establish, promote, and secure the heritage of this nation. We show respect and gratitude for our country’s traditions and national symbols. Our scholars love our country and seek to incorporate core American principles in their own lives and to promote them in their communities.

[1] Thomas Jefferson, “The Declaration of Independence,” 1776.

John Adams said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[1] Morality and virtue are the foundation of our republic and necessary for a society to be free. Virtue is an inner commitment and voluntary outward obedience to principles of truth and moral law. Private virtue is the character to govern oneself according to moral law at all times. Public virtue is the character to voluntarily sacrifice or subjugate personal wants for the greater good of other individuals or the community. Specific moral virtues include charity, justice, courage, temperance, reverence, prudence, and honesty. These virtues are the moral fiber and moving force to act in accordance with wisdom. Our scholars embrace these virtues and seek to incorporate them in the John Adams Academy community through which these virtues are cultivated and practiced.

[1] John Adams, “Letter from John Adams to Massachusetts Militia,” 11 October 1798.

We value mentors and classics as a way of becoming. A mentor is an individual of high moral character who can guide a scholar in both intellectual and moral development while respecting the sovereignty and intrinsic potential of the scholar. All the greatest leaders throughout history were inspired and guided by mentors. The formula is simple yet profound: the scholars read the classics and discussed them with mentors whose passion for learning was contagious.

The primary and most influential mentors are parents. Teachers at John Adams Academy join with parents in mentoring scholars. They place the development of their scholars foremost in their work. They are well versed in the subjects they teach and use effective methods of instruction. In every mode of their instruction, their focus is on helping their scholars rise to their full potential as servant leaders, rather than on merely meeting all the learning standards. They live the core values of John Adams Academy, serving as an example to those they mentor. In turn, scholars are given increasing opportunities to mentor others in and out of the classroom.

Classics allow a scholar to have as mentors some of the greatest men and women who have ever lived. It is through the classics that scholars are introduced to excellence, come to know themselves and reality, and are ultimately inspired to causes greater than self. As a scholar engages with a classic in wonder and teachability, a classic can mentor the scholar toward truth, wisdom, and virtue. Classics are foundational and necessary in the traditional liberal arts education of a servant leader.

As sovereigns, scholars are responsible to educate themselves by taking ownership for their own learning. Sir Walter Scott stated, “All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”[1] John Adams Academy recognizes this truth. Mentors are responsible to inspire, not compel. This is the essence of great mentoring.

Successful scholars are self-motivated; they conscientiously choose what they need to learn and seek resources and mentors who can help them. The term scholar denotes a lifelong learner who is always in pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful. As they discover truth they can appreciate the beautiful, and in turn are able to do good for themselves and others.

The Academy seeks to support scholars’ self-learning by providing an edifying environment, necessary resources, and virtuous mentors who inspire. As mentors and scholars establish and abide by high standards of conduct, our school is free from the distractions typical of many schools. We then invite scholars to choose to develop their character by applying themselves to their academic disciplines.

[1] Sir Walter Scott, “Letter to J. G. Lockhart,” June 16, 1830, in Letters of Sir Walter Scott, Vol. II, ed. H. J. C. Grierson (1936), quoted in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999), p. 652.

America is an idea, not a location. Implied in the word “America” are the notions of private property ownership, creativity, and enterprise. Creative thinkers envision and present things with a broader or original perspective. Entrepreneurs are thinkers, leaders, and statesmen who know how to solve problems and improve the world around them. We desire our scholars to be creative and entrepreneurial regardless of their future professions. The spirit of enterprise permeates our school. We intentionally give scholars, parents, and staff many opportunities to think creatively and solve problems in all arenas. Entrepreneurship and creativity are some of the greatest tools a servant leader can harness in contributing to the welfare and liberty of society.

True academic excellence requires the focused application of both intellectual and moral discipline. It is at the intersection of virtue and intelligence where special excellence, or arête, is found and brilliance thrives. At the Academy, excellence is lauded and recognized as a mark of distinction which is a natural result of our diligent study. Good grades are only one measurement of this achievement. Scholars are given frequent opportunities to improve their academics by analyzing their work in relation to the truth, goodness, and beauty found through the classics. We see academic excellence displayed when a scholar, mentor, or staff member is inspired to innovate and to drive their own education. A question that reflects this attitude is “What more can I do?” The attainment of excellence involves constant improvement and is a life-long process.

John Adams Academy seeks to inspire all members of our community (teachers, scholars, staff, parents, board members, etc.) to model what we teach by actively engaging in our own classical education —we only ask that which we ourselves are striving to do. Mentors are scholars first. We all actively pursue our own classical education by regularly studying and assimilating classics outside of the classroom, and often outside our own disciplines. Mentoring and learning then become joint pursuits for all members of the community. We also model and pursue growth in the Ten Core Values as we all grow into servant-leaders.

Understanding is facilitated when principles and knowledge encountered in a scholar’s studies are modeled in real life situations. To this end, principles and events from classics are coupled with simulated experiences such as mock trials, moot courts, classroom constitutional conventions, historical role playing, and other simulated experiences. Through such guided application, scholars come face to face with the challenges and dilemmas encountered by great men and women of the past. Assimilation occurs when the scholar applies the principles and knowledge learned from a model or simulation to their own lives.

Abundance is the opposite of scarcity. A scarcity mentality implies that each individual is in direct competition with those around them and that one’s gain is another’s loss. Conversely, an abundance mentality is inherently optimistic; abundance suggests that when one succeeds another need not fail. Rather, in a free society, one person’s success benefits the whole society and should be celebrated. An abundance mentality is tied to the belief that human success and potential is expansive, and that this potential can be realized by anyone through hard work, determination, and collaboration. We seek to share this value with our scholars by celebrating each person’s successes and empowering scholars to work collaboratively and synergistically to accomplish difficult tasks and great acts of service.

Integral to the success of the mission of John Adams Academy is the development of great citizens and great souls. To do so, John Adams Academy seeks to build a culture of greatness. Greatness is found in using our virtues, gifts, and talents for others. In the 4th century BC, Aristotle emphasized that nobility, or greatness of soul, was a key moral virtue that each citizen should develop. This moral ideal has been expressed in classics such as great art, great architecture, great music, great literature, and great actions throughout history.

We build a culture of greatness through developing nobility of soul and mind, environment, and conduct. Great works that elevate the soul and expand the mind are carefully chosen and taught in every stage of the curriculum. Our facilities and classrooms are intentionally designed with emphases of space, unity, and beauty to have a positive impact on educational outcomes. Each member of our community is expected to conduct themselves with kindness and respect. Also, scholars participate in cultural and enrichment activities and formal events that cultivate greatness. By these practices, we help develop the citizens of respect, refinement, and service that Aristotle envisioned thousands of years ago. The outcome is a legacy of ordered liberty and freedom.

Liberty begins with self-governance, for one can never be truly free until one is ruler over one’s appetites and passions. From a practical standpoint, the less one rules oneself, the more one must be ruled by others. Personal responsibility is taking stewardship over one’s choices. If one is to be free, one must experience the effects of and be accountable for one’s choices. Accountability is an acceptance of the natural consequences of our choices. We cannot control all that happens to us. We can, however, control our response to what the environment and others may do or say to us.

Self-governance, personal responsibility, and accountability, therefore, must be the foundation upon which liberty is based.

John Adams Academy seeks to instill this value in its scholars by teaching them the connection between responsibility and liberty. As scholars grow in character and skill, we give them more opportunities to govern themselves within the framework of the Academy. We hold our scholars accountable for their actions. John Adams Academy scholars exhibit this value when they seek to obey just laws, constantly strive to uphold the Ten Core Values, and comply with the Academy’s standards and expectations.