Americas Reading Test Scores Fall - Top 10 Ways Classical Education Sets Students Up For Success

Another year of declining test scores in America. Our Top 10 Ways We Create Readers.

Let's set aside the debate about high stakes testing, the fact that schools and kids are more than their test results and focus on why Classical Education will naturally lead to improved outcomes in reading and comprehension.  Here are the top 10 reasons our students achieve reading goals on tests AND are more prepared for future schooling and life;

ONE - Classical Education makes reading great works of literature CENTRAL to all we do.

        1. Our scholars are reading a lot, from novels to poems, plays, short stories, source documents, our kids are readers.
        2. Socratic discussions are paramount in a Classical School.  Read aloud, a Charolette Mason addition to our Classical model, provides a chance to the entire class to listen, wrestle with rigorous texts and then do discuss what they've just heard. Reading then deep discussions helps make the text come alive.
        3. Teachers are interpreting the values and virtues of characters in novels exhibit and relating these ideas to the student's world.  Can you imagine the discussion around; 'Was Robin Hood right in his actions?'
        4. Novel selections are at or above grade level. We set a high bar and help the students to achieve success.
        5. Vocabulary acquisition occurs from the weekly spelling tests AND from discovering new words in rich literature. Mix in Latin root words which will pop up year after year in the English and the sciences and students learn in a multi-pronged approach.

TWO - Reading stories full of adventure and drama and real human emotions are interesting. They bring students into the characters and ideas happening in the book. The focus on informational text is important but there is so much more to reading! Many national reading programs, especially in the early grades, are short stories and text choices that don't make sense to the students. By picking thematic texts and using entire books (many of which are recognized classics), the students get a deeper richer enjoyment out of what they are reading. For example, reading Elie Wiesel's Night, during the Holocaust history unit, puts human emotion and context into both history and English lessons.

THREE - Informational text, where most States have moved their reading standards are important, but within balance to non-fiction. Informational text analysis happens in English AND History, Science and the Art. Where many schools focus on informational text in English class, in a Classical school, students dissect source documents from history, new articles that could be hundreds of years old, and add on the informational text that compliments classical novels.  The balanced blend of fiction and non-fiction is important to student engagement and context.

FOUR - Interwoven subjects make sense to the students. When the scholar reads Johnny Truman, a classical novel about a boy that is set in Boston prior to and during the outbreak of the American Revolution. The novel is ideal for teen-aged readers. With themes include apprenticeship, courtship, sacrifice, human rights, and the growing tension between Patriots and Loyalists as conflict nears. Events depicted in the novel include the Boston Tea Party, the British blockade of the Port of Boston, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  The impact of Classical Education found in Ethos Logos schools is that as the novel is being interpreted, in history, the students are learning the facts and stories that lead up to the American revolution. In art class, they are learning how artists interpreted the birth of America and in the music, they are listening to the patriotic-themed songs of the late 1700s. This emersion into the time period is year-long and makes sense to the students. More on Thematic or Interwoven Instruction. 

FIVE - Value and Virtue themes are not an afterthought but a focal point. Each month, we focus on school-wide values and virtues that open a door for teachers to discuss in the classroom. We have provided hundreds of lesson prompts to assist teachers in getting to the core values we are covering in the class, in the hallways, and on the playing fields.  Check out Pilar 1 and 2 in the Ethos Logos Character Module.


SIX - Classical Education schools WRITE and WRITE and WRITE. The hallmark of a Classical school is high-frequency writing. From opinions to narratives on the novels being studied to journals in history or science. Our scholars are READING, INTERPRETING and WRITING across subjects.

SEVEN - Whole Word AND Phonemic Awareness in the early grades. (more HERE) The debate between whole word instruction and phonetics in the early grades has been going on in America for years. We supplement our curriculum offerings to Kinder, 1st and if needed 2nd grade with a phonetic program that gives teachers the tools needed to address all their student’s needs. Beyond the curriculum, we have a detailed assessment system that identifies struggling readers and brings in interventions to support their early love of reading.

EIGHT - Cultural References – Education is the passing down of knowledge from one generation to another. The collective knowledge passed down is built upon the great thinkers of their time, borrowing, building and retuning the ideas of those thinkers of the past. From Aristotle to St. Augustine, from Adam Smith to Milton Freidman’s philosophies around economics, human nature and sciences have evolved from generation to generation.  Having a wide knowledge base on the arts, literature, history, and sciences help Classical Education scholars comprehend texts with a wider range and depth.

NINE - Triangulation and Interpretation as full English units.  Our English units are built out to dissect, interpret, write about and discuss the novel of the month but also we add in historic source documents, short stories, fiction, and non-fiction themed stories and poetry to help the teacher to triangulate instruction between multiple sources. Check out a sample of unit on The Heros Journey tied to the novels King Arthur and Samuari Tale.

TEN - Teachers that are supported on WHAT to cover in the classroom so they can focus on HOW and WHY the content is important to the students.  I was amazed to learn that a number of school districts in America provide the required list of standards and tell the teacher to go find content to teach the standards. Our schools have layer upon layer of curriculum and add on resources to support the teachers in their lesson planning. We have built out units with daily lessons and a full buffet of resources organized by major categories for the teacher to pull from and customize to meet their interests and their unique classroom make up. Check out our SPRITE History program to get a sense of how this works in a school.

BONUS - ELEVEN - Social and Emotional Learning Improves Student Outcomes - HERE 

To Reverse The Decline In Reading Scores, We Need To Build Knowledge

Scores on standardized tests given across the country have declined, and the gap between high- and low-achievers has widened. There’s plenty of hand-wringing, but commentators continue to overlook an obvious explanation: we’re not giving vulnerable students access to the kind of knowledge that could help them succeed.

It’s become a predictable biennial ritual. Reading and math scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress—also known as “The Nation’s Report Card”—are released amid great fanfare. A few states and districts are singled out for commendation, but the overall picture is bleak: stagnant or declining scores, especially among the lowest-achieving students.

This year’s scores, released on October 30, are scary enough to qualify for Halloween. The tests revealed mixed results in math and an even grimmer picture than usual in reading. Among 4th graders, reading scores have declined in 17 states since the last test administration in 2017. And in 8th grade, scores declined in a whopping 31 states. All demographic groups of 8th graders lost ground except Asians, but those at the bottom lost more: the top scorers declined by one point, and the lowest declined by six points.

It can be dangerous to draw conclusions on the basis of NAEP data. But the consistently bad news about reading scores—which have been stagnant since 1998—is a pretty clear indication we’re doing something wrong. Indeed, the last time NAEP scores were released, in April 2018, the board that administers the tests convened a panel of experts to discuss the lack of progress in reading. The consensus was that we’ve been teaching reading comprehension in a way that doesn’t correspond to scientific evidence.

The experts explained that the vast majority of American schools approach reading comprehension as though it were a set of generally applicable skills, like “finding the main idea” and “making inferences”—the skills the tests appear to measure. Especially in schools where test scores are low, students practice these “skills” for hours every week on books on a random variety of topics that are easy enough for them to read independently. The theory is that it’s more important for children to acquire comprehension skills than substantive knowledge, because they can use the skills to acquire knowledge from reading complex texts later on–and to understand the passages on standardized tests at the end of the year.

In fact, cognitive scientists have found that the most important factor in comprehension is how much background knowledge readers have relating to the topic: the more you have, the easier it is to understand a text and retain the information. So if schools want to boost reading comprehension, especially for students who are unlikely to pick up academic knowledge and vocabulary at home, the key is to expand knowledge through a curriculum that includes lots of history, science, and the arts—the very subjects that are being marginalized to make room for more practice in comprehension “skills.” The reason many students score poorly on tests is not that they haven’t learned the skills; it’s that they can’t understand the reading passages in the first place.

It appears NAEP administrators have short memories. At this year’s event, there was no mention of the analysis offered by the experts on last year’s panel. When an audience member asked about the discrepancy between math and reading scores, the NAEP official taking questions merely shrugged. “We don’t seem to know how to move the scores for reading but we do for math,” was all she offered—along with an aside about how the “Reading Wars” seem to be back.

That’s a reference to a debate that erupted in the 1990s about the best way to teach children how to sound out words. Thanks to reporting by radio journalist Emily Hanford, it’s recently become clear that many children still aren’t being taught phonics in the systematic way that is backed by abundant scientific evidence. That news seems to have also reached Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who spoke at the “NAEP Day” event. In addition to touting school choice as the remedy for low reading scores, DeVos blamed them on teachers, declaring that “America’s educators know what it takes to teach a student to read”—meaning phonics. In fact, that’s the problem: many educators don’t know, due to deficiencies in their training. Nor have they been informed about the need to build knowledge to boost comprehension—which is perhaps an even more widespread problem, and certainly one that has been more overlooked.

This year’s NAEP Day panel, composed of educators and state education officials, also failed to mention the elephant in the room identified by the panel last year. Although the topic was educational equity, no one brought up the difference in access to knowledge between kids from wealthier, more educated families and their less privileged peers—or the fact that schools are failing to build knowledge for the children who need it most. Instead, the panelists urged the usual recommendations: the need to have high expectations for all students, the importance of basing interventions on data.

Those exhortations sound good. But if teachers don’t provide students with the information they need to meet high expectations, and if the data they rely on leads only to a doubling down on the comprehension “skills” it purports to measure—as is usually the case–reading scores will stay low and the gap between students at the top and bottom will persist. School choice won’t help either, unless there are more choices that include knowledge-building curricula and an easier way to identify them. And while the pundits and officials continue to overlook a root cause of the problem, untold numbers of students will continue to suffer.

Natalie Wexler is the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System—and How to Fix It (Avery, 2019). She is also the co-author, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades" (Jossey-Bass, 2017). Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications.

Learn From The Past - The Education Marketplace - Nat. Assoc. Ind. Schools

To Be Successful in Today’s Education Market, Learn from the Past

In the past 30 years we have seen major shifts in the U.S. K–12 landscape. Religious schools dominated the private school market in the early ‘90s, with Catholic schools serving more than 50% of students, other religious schools serving 30%, and nonsectarian schools serving less than 15% of that population. Today, those numbers have shifted. According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2015–2016 school year, Catholic schools today serve only 36% of the private school population, nonsectarian schools serve nearly 24%, and other religiously affiliated schools serve 39% (including 13.5% who attend conservative Christian schools). For-profit private schools also are attracting the attention of a new generation of parents, further segmenting the private school market. Changing parental wants and needs have driven some of these shifts, but we also can point to the arrival of the first public charter school in 1992 as a driver of significant change on the landscape. When you look at more recent history, the number of charter schools in the U.S. has grown by 17.5% since 2012, while the number of public schools has declined by 0.5%, Catholic schools by 4.1%, and other private schools by 3.1%. Home schooling and online schools also have disrupted the marketplace, but exact numbers are not available for their effect on traditional public and private schools.As disruption continues to accelerate in the K–12 market, how do we ensure that independent schools thrive? There are some valuable lessons to be learned from those who have closed their doors. In a provocatively named article, “What Dead Schools Can Teach Us,” Jim McManus, former executive director of the California Association of Independent Schools, explored the life cycle of private schools using Porter Sargent’s 1927 A Handbook of Private Schools for American Boys and Girls as a guide. He demonstrated that, region by region, more schools had closed their doors than had survived between then and now. He outlined four contributing factors:

  • Mission fatigue: The school’s mission is no longer sought after in the marketplace.
  • Leadership transition: awkward transitions, most notably when a founding head retires and passes the torch to the next generation
  • Financial problems: money woes driven by many causes, from demographic changes to mismanagement
  • Poor planning: lack of strategic planning or an orientation that favors short-term, small-picture thinking instead of long-term planning

Likewise, in his 2009 book How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In, Jim Collins studied why so many long-standing, successful companies have failed. He sought to provide insights into how organizations can detect early warning signs and take immediate steps to halt decline. Collins identified a five-step framework to understand the progression of decline:

  1. Hubris born of success: Success is seen as an entitlement. Organizations that fall prey to this think, “We’re successful because we do specific things,” instead of “We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work.”
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more: Building on their hubris, organizations grow faster than their capacity allows or take undisciplined leaps.
  3. Denial of risk or peril: External results may be strong enough that leaders fail to see or heed warning signs. They also blame external circumstances for challenges, instead of taking responsibility for those challenges.
  4. Grasping for salvation: An organization may find itself in sharp decline. Leaders are prone to look for the quick fix—the proverbial silver bullet—instead of taking a disciplined approach that could bring them out of decline.
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death: Accumulated setbacks catch up with the organization and leaders often abandon the possibility of building a future where they could thrive.

Rereading Collin’s book over the summer, I found much of what he had to say resonated deeply, as I have seen independent schools go through these five stages. For example, let’s go back to the ‘90s again, when there was double-digit growth in the student population and most independent schools had long waiting lists. Many believed that this growth would continue, and it has for some schools. Others have struggled, particularly since 2008, never returning to pre-recession numbers. Collins suggests that this is one of the markers of stage one—people believe that success will continue no matter what they do.

The late ‘90s and early 2000s also brought expansive growth in employees and buildings, driving up costs (and tuitions) for independent schools. Programs also expanded, while rarely was anything cut. Many schools moved squarely into stage two, in which “success creates pressure for more growth, setting up a vicious cycle of expectations, straining systems, people, and culture to the breaking point.”

Moving into stage three, many school leaders saw the warning signs, but it was hard to roll back the expansions, and many assumed the volatility in the market would correct itself. If ever there was a time to face the brutal facts this was it. Many schools quickly moved into stage four, or what I call “the silver bullet stage.” What followed was a potpourri of quick fixes aimed at halting market decline—more and/or different marketing, more buildings, even more programs, etc. Unfortunately, what usually happens with silver bullets is that they drain resources putting the school into an even worse position. Collins suggests, “The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” During this period, many schools lost their core—that signature differentiator that made them uniquely who they are. By trying to be all things to all people, many schools fell into even deeper decline.

Some may see their schools in one or more of these five stages, and some may not. The important takeaway is that we need to be aware of the signs and take appropriate action when needed. If a school finds itself in stage four, Collins suggests taking a disciplined approach to get back into recovery:

  • Base strategic changes on empirical evidence and extensive quantitative analysis, rather than making bold, untested leaps. For schools this means collecting hard data on the market, identifying their own capacities and unique differentiators, and naming external threats and how those threats may affect the school today and in the future.
  • Understand that combining two struggling companies does not make one great company; only consider acquisition/merger that would amplify proven strengths. There is a huge opportunity for schools to collaborate or network themselves with similar schools that would all be stronger and more efficient because of the partnership. The NAIS Toolkit: Mergers, Acquisitions, and Other Affiliations offers some guidance.
  • Get facts—think, then act. Never take actions that could imperil the company long-term. Boards need to consider this imperative. Taking on large building projects can drain resources and make schools more vulnerable over the long-term.
  • Gain clarity about what is core and should be held firm and what needs to change, building upon proven strengths. Staying true to a school’s core mission is key. Focus and alignment are the hallmarks of a successful school. The challenge is to find the right intersection between continuity and change.
  • Focus on performance, letting tangible results provide the strongest case for a new direction.
  • Create momentum with a series of good decisions, supremely well executed, that build one upon another. NAIS’s Strategy Lab program provides frameworks and tools to help schools identify their performance levers and create their unique “flywheel” so that they can gain momentum over time.
  • Search for a disciplined executive, with a bias for selecting a proven performer from the inside. As McManus pointed out, one of the reasons that schools fail is poor leadership transitions. It is time for independent schools to focus on growing their own leaders to ensure that schools will thrive into the future.

School leaders must keep one foot firmly in today and the other just as firmly in tomorrow. How is that even possible? And how can we make it more doable? I believe it comes down to making incremental progress—taking small steps—in a few key areas. Based on research in other industries, I am confident that the schools that will be able to weather the changes ahead will have three characteristics in common: strong leadership, a laser-sharp focus on their mission, and the ability to continuously innovate.


Donna Orem

Donna Orem

Donna Orem is NAIS President.

Master Teacher Program with

Check out the program which allows strong teachers to stay in the classroom where they can use their skills to impact scholars AND to help other teachers perfect their craft.

The Master Teacher concept is not new but the Opportunity Culture framework has formalized the process and given us the research-backed answers on how to implement a program well.

Learning to Lead as a Multi-Classroom Leader
By Hadley Moore, March 4, 2019; published by EducationNC, April 3, 2019

In 2015–16, I was a high school English teacher at an elite, private college-prep high school. In 2017-18, I became an assistant principal at an inner-city elementary school. How on earth did that happen?

I loved being a high school English teacher. It was my dream job, molding and shaping young people’s lives through literary works that made my heart sing. I could have quite happily remained ensconced in my classroom for life. However, I was feeling restless, and candidly, a little bored. I wanted more—I wanted a greater impact, and I wanted the opportunity to network with other educators.


Enter the chance to become an Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leader, or MCL. I left my safe classroom in that smoothly oiled prep school to lead a team of six teachers, overseeing six classrooms and four courses in an urban public high school in its first year of using Opportunity Culture staffing models. On the first day, when I couldn’t figure out where to find printer paper in that vast, impersonal new building, I cried.

Despite the culture shock, I threw myself into my MCL and coaching role, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that experience. I would not be the school leader or competent instructional coach that I now must be on a daily basis if not for the foundation of Opportunity Culture. It was a true “opportunity” to grow, and it has led me in a professional direction I never could have imagined.

The MCL role allowed me to grow and feel confident as an instructional leader. Without this experience, I would not have pursued administration. When I became the assistant principal at Washington Irving Elementary School in the Indianapolis Public Schools, I put my MCL skills to work:

Building relationships: This is key to any successful school climate and culture. What I loved about being an MCL was that we were embedded coaches and not evaluators. My team and I worked side by side to plan and deliver great instruction. Alongside them I co-taught, introduced the curriculum, charted and analyzed data—and I observed both the mundane and the fantastic. As a result, I could build encouraging and supportive relationships with the teachers who were under my umbrella. I was not a threat or an authority figure; I was a partner. Their success was my success. Their failures were my failures.

Now, I can see how much the MCL role helped me build relationships and have fun doing it! Once I got into an evaluator position, I missed the comfort that was easier to establish in my MCL role. However, it was just as important, if not more so, to work at building relationships with my teachers as an assistant principal. I wanted them to see me as their coach, their cheerleader, and their teammate, just as my teachers did when I was an MCL.

Focusing on rigor: The MCL role made it clear that instructional rigor motivates and engages students. Our kids want to be challenged; they want to be respected enough to be entrusted with lessons, assessments, and performance tasks that allow them to demonstrate the fullness of their talents and abilities. The most successful and impactful teachers were the ones who understood that and incorporated rigor every single day. From my prep school work, I brought content knowledge, high expectations, and enthusiasm for reworking a lackluster curriculum and book list. We replaced tired, whitewashed young-adult texts with meaningful multicultural literature written for adults. The kids thrived, and their teachers blossomed as well—elated and empowered with the growth they saw in students’ reading, writing, and conversations in their classrooms daily.

Collaborating: At first, the teachers I supported were a bit suspicious, since my role had never existed before. What was I there to do? How was I going to improve their practice—or would I just place more demands on their already limited time? I had to establish a collaborative team culture in the English department, and that started with me. Our weekly meeting was sacred, and we all showed up on time ready to interact. I modeled that, but they perpetuated it. My office became the hub of the department—and not just because of the sodas and candy I kept stocked. We shared our challenges and our successes with one another—daily, beyond our formal weekly meeting. We observed one another’s lessons, offered opinions on curriculum changes, and chose texts in tandem. Our conversations that were once on the surface level of “how was your weekend?” naturally morphed into “what was the impact of this morning’s Maya Angelou text on your classroom discussion?” Ultimately, it was the commitment to our shared students—and our emphasis on instructional excellence—that allowed us to build the collaborative culture that ensured our success.

I would not have had the courage, curiosity, and relationship-building skills to take on an assistant principal position—let alone in an elementary school!—were it not for the experiences I had building a team and transforming an academic culture as a high school English MCL. I am grateful daily for Opportunity Culture and my own opportunity to grow and develop myself alongside those beloved, respected, hardworking teachers.

Hadley Moore was the assistant principal of Washington Irving Elementary School in Indianapolis Public Schools, and an Opportunity Culture Fellow in 2017–18. Read more columns written by Opportunity Culture educators, many with accompanying videos, here.

The Education That Produced Abraham Lincoln - Stephen Shipp - 7 Oaks Classical School - Indiana

Today’s Schools Should Emulate The Education That Produced Abraham Lincoln

Would our schools have prepared Abraham Lincoln to give us the Gettysburg Address or Second Inaugural? Do they aspire to?

Last month marked the 210th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. To the professional educator, Lincoln is endlessly fascinating. His family followed the frontier, and his accomplishments came in spite of the limited time he spent in a schoolhouse, among them some of the finest examples of political rhetoric in the English language.

So how did he do it, and what can we learn from his example? The present mantra in secondary education is “college and career readiness.” Lincoln invites an uncomfortable question: Had Lincoln attended a school on the vanguard of the college and career readiness movement, would it have prepared him for future greatness? Would Lincoln have become Lincoln?

This may seem like a strange question. After all, Lincoln is very distant from the present. But maybe that’s why he is helpful: His example stands far enough from the present to help us to see ourselves with fresh eyes.

When I look at Lincoln, three thoughts come to mind. Each challenges the sufficiency of the reigning paradigm for high school education.

Perhaps we should pay more attention to culture-building. Much has been made of Lincoln’s self-education. We encounter stories of the young Lincoln walking miles to borrow a book and staying up to read by candlelight—a habit of self-improvement begun in youth and continued through adulthood. Historians tell us he studied grammar into his twenties and worked through Euclid’s “Elements” as a young congressman.

Lincoln’s selection of books is remarkable: Instead of “Captain Underpants” or “Twilight,” he read Aesop, Shakespeare, Plutarch, William Blackstone, and the Bible. Instead of test prep guides, he carefully studied schoolhouse textbooks in arithmetic and geometry. Instead of drafting a business plan and preparing a PowerPoint presentation, he studied collections of notable speeches and kept a copybook of poetry and learned lengthy passages by heart.

Sometimes missed is the fact that Lincoln was guided by a cultural consensus. There is a reason these authors could be found on the frontier. Lincoln was imitating rather than inventing an educational model—a model that was thought to be imminently practical for anyone ambitious to rise.

Lincoln’s examples invite examination: Would our culture (or imitation of our schools) have led Lincoln to read excellent books—cover to cover, as though they matter?

Perhaps we should pay more attention to communication. Today we seem more interested in the communication of machines than of human beings. Schools of Lincoln’s days sought to instill skill in the arts of language. Imitating the core of the schoolhouse education, he drilled himself in the rules of spelling, grammar, and logic. Instruction in the art of speaking and writing was grounded in imitation, so Lincoln read books on elocution and steeped himself in great literature.

Our college and career-oriented education focuses more on technology than eloquence—more on the medium than quality. It would be difficult to do more. Our high school students are hamstrung. They do not master grammar in earlier grades, so they are uncertain of correctness. Logic classes are virtually unknown. Students scarcely encounter poetry. Plutarch is unknown. Shakespeare is read in snippets and with difficulty, if at all. Yet Lincoln depended on his powers of communication. Much hung in the balance.

So Lincoln again invites self-examination: Would our schools have prepared Lincoln to give us the Gettysburg Address or Second Inaugural? Do they aspire to?

Perhaps we should focus more on character. Preparing for college or a career is well and good. But what is college for? What is the purpose of a career? In practice, college and career preparation means a focus on material gain—saving money by earning college credits in high school, preparing to earn money by practicing entry-level job skills.

This stands in sharp contrast to Lincoln. Following the lead of the schoolhouse, he gave himself an education intended to ennoble the heart with images of virtue and vice. His mind was full of fables and tales, and Shakespearean villains. His moral imagination was leavened by life experiences, such as his encounter with the slave markets of New Orleans. In short, Lincoln received exactly the education he needed if he was to sustain his resolve to seek justice as he shepherded the nation through the horrors of civil war.

Our contemporary notions of practical education have little regard for things that cannot be counted, so it has trouble teaching us what is worthy of our full energies. But those things that are not easily counted are exactly the sorts of things that defined Lincoln—wit and wisdom, humility and patience, eloquence and unbending humanity.

Lincoln modeled his self-education on the education of the schoolhouse. Maybe we should model our schoolhouses on his self-education.

Dr. Stephen Shipp is headmaster of Seven Oaks Classical School, part of Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative and located in Ellettsville, IN.

The First Day Of School - Adorable moment an eight-year-old boy consoles his crying autistic classmate on their first day of school

Adorable moment an eight-year-old boy consoles his crying autistic classmate on their first day of school in a picture which has melted hearts across social media

From UK Daily Mail

An eight-year-old boy has touched social media after he was pictured consoling an autistic classmate during their first day of school in Kansas.

Christian Moore was snapped holding his classmate's - eight-year-old Connor Crites - hand during their first day of second grade at the Minneha Elementary School in Wichita on August 14.

Connor had been having a difficult day and explained to local reporters that his classmate extended his hand in a kind gesture.

'He was kind to me,' the second grader said to KAKE. 'I started crying and then he helped me. And, I was happy. … He found me and held my hand and I got happy tears.'

Christian Moore was pictured holding Connor Crites hand on their first day of second grade at the Minneha Elementary School in Wichita on August 14

Christian Moore was pictured holding Connor Crites hand on their first day of second grade at the Minneha Elementary School in Wichita on August 14

Courtney Moore, the Good Samaritan's mother, saw the entire exchange unfold and said that the two created an 'inseparable bond' from the heartwarming moment.

'I saw him on the ground with Connor as Connor was crying in the corner and he was consoling him,' she stated.

On Facebook, Courtney Moore - Christian's mother - shared that it has been 'an honor to raise such a loving, compassionate child!

On Facebook, Courtney Moore - Christian's mother - shared that it has been 'an honor to raise such a loving, compassionate child!

'He grabs his hand and walks him to the front door. We waited until the bell rang and he walked him inside of the school. The rest is history. They have an inseparable bond.'

On Facebook, Moore shared that it has been 'an honor to raise such a loving, compassionate child!'

She later shared comments from the Connor's family, including from his mother and grandmother.

April Crites, the boy's mother, shared a message of thanks before she added: 'I worry everyday that he is going to get bullied for being different and your son just absolutely warmed my heart. If there were more children like him I wouldn't worry about such things.'

'Thank you so much ma'am for raising such a wonderful child,' the second grader's grandmother, Daisy Harjo, declared. 'More parents need to teach their children how to be compassionate.'

Crites would later share with KAKE that she often fears for her son and his time at school.

'I fear everyday that someone is going to laugh at him because he doesn't speak correctly, or laugh at him because he doesn't sit still or because he jumps up and down and flaps his hands,' Crite said.

The two are now 'inseparable,' according to the Good Samaritan's mother

April Crites, the boy's mother, shared a message of thanks before she added: 'I worry everyday that he is going to get bullied for being different and your son just absolutely warmed my heart. If there were more children like him I wouldn't worry about such things'

April Crites, the boy's mother, shared a message of thanks before she added: 'I worry everyday that he is going to get bullied for being different and your son just absolutely warmed my heart. If there were more children like him I wouldn't worry about such things'

'Thank you so much ma'am for raising such a wonderful child,' the second grader's grandmother, Daisy Harjo, declared. 'More parents need to teach their children how to be compassionate.'

'Thank you so much ma'am for raising such a wonderful child,' the second grader's grandmother, Daisy Harjo, declared. 'More parents need to teach their children how to be compassionate.'

She later continued: 'It doesn't matter color, it doesn't matter gender, it doesn't matter disability, and it doesn't matter anything, just be kind, open your heart... it's what we need in this world.'

The initial photo has gone viral, shared more than 21,000 times and reacted to more than 31,000 times.

Wellwishers and loving comments even motivated the families to create the Christian & Connor Bridging The Gap Facebook group.

The group aims to take 'a stand against bullying, violence and racism. Our goal is to bring peace & unity through our campaign, to shed positive light through acts of Kindness and love. There is no color in love!'