Aquinas Learning

ALJ Vol. 3, Issue 1, Fall 2019

Meet an AL Family: The Lees, an Educated Journey

Though Esther and Eric Lee were always on the same page about homeschooling, in the beginning they didn’t know where the journey would lead. Eric says it was driven initially by Esther’s love for learning and a passion for seeking beautiful things. Both were formally introduced to the concept of Christian classical education when they found Susan Bauer'’ book, The Well-Trained Mind.

Following the discovery of Bauer and classical education, the Lees continued their quest, reading The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell and exploring Charlotte Mason ideas, attending seminars by the Circe Institute and conferences of the Society for Classical Learning. The more they enriched their understanding, the more they became convinced that classical learning was what they wanted for their children. Private schools were out due to the cost, so the Lees joined the Classical Conversations co-op. There Esther found the curriculum and culture “a bit too Evangelical Protestant” even for her, a non-Catholic at the time. After more searching, they discovered Aquinas Learning by chance (or Providence) while attending a Circe seminar, and Esther thought it was exactly what she was looking for: a curriculum that emphasized Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, and the learning of philosophy and literature.

Fall 2019 will be the fourth year the Lees have travelled over an hour each way to the Manassas campus, which three of their children (in Parva, Prima I and II) attend.

When the Lees started attending Aquinas, they were non-denominational Protestants but not satisfied with their church culture and teaching. Although they did not fully understand Catholicism at the time, Esther knew a Catholic learning environment is good for the soul, given her own experience in Catholic schools. They started seriously exploring Catholicism over the past three years and attending the Latin Mass Congregation of Silver Spring. Eventually, they decided to enter the Church as a family in the summer 2018 at St. Bernadette’s in Silver Spring, MD.

The Lees now have five children, Emma, Ethan, Eian, Edmund, and Eliot, who was born in January 2019. Esther is a stay-at-home mom and home educator and Eric works as a software engineer. Esther admits that homeschooling has been very difficult at times, but she believes it is a vocation saying, “God has entrusted our children to us, and there is no one else who can take the parents’ place in guiding and raising them.”

As a homeschool dad who is not the primary teacher, Eric sees his role as “supporting my wife, being aware of the school plan, making sure things are on track, and lastly, trying to make sure the kids are listening to mom so that things can get done.” He spends most of his homeschool time helping with family read alouds and tackling chores around the house. Eric calls himself “a professional dishwasher … I also do laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and occasional cooking.”

The Lee family continues their education journey, finding themselves engaged and encouraged when they hear good talks on truth, goodness, and beauty. In that vein, Eric recommends The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen, and anything by G. K. Chesterton.

The Lee family at baby Eliot’s baptism.

The Lee family at baby Eliot’s baptism.

Rosario Reilly