Since 1995, The Ambrose School’s goal has been consistent: to restore Christian intellectual leadership in our culture, both locally and nationally. The school has experienced consistent growth since it began with just three students, to its present size of around 500 students.
In 1994, five families gathered to consider founding a classical Christian school in Boise. The success of Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, had spurred dozens (now hundreds) of schools to open nationwide. Darel Tracy signed the incorporation documents and the school was slated to open in the fall of 1995. Only three students in the 2nd grade arrived for class on the first day in the basement of Ustick Baptist Church– all sons of board members. One of these students, Dylan Tracy, graduated with our first class in 2006. David Goodwin, our headmaster for 10 years and currently the national director of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, helped with marketing and other business matters and was added to the Board of Directors in 1997. Darel Tracy remains on our board today.
The school hired Wesley Callahan, a leading thinker and author in the classical Christian movement, to write our K-5 curriculum. In 1996 the Academy hired Andrew Kern, co-author of Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America. These men largely shaped the curriculum and program that we have today. Andrew was brought on full-time and helped us to develop the ethos of the school. He taught 3rd grade and ran the school administratively until the board hired a full-time administrator in 1997. Andrew Kern now runs a classical Christian resource center in North Carolina called Circe Institute.
The school grew rapidly, to 35 students its second year and around 70 the third. The school continued to add one grade per year, to graduate its first class of eight students in 2006. In 1997, Foundations Academy (our original name) gained national attention when Helen Chenoweth brought Newt Gingrich to Boise and he visited with our students. The story was broadcast nationally on National Public Radio. The school relocated to Broadway Avenue Baptist Church in 1996-97 and continued there until 2000, when occupancy issues with the city caused us to move to an educationally rated building in 2000. The Community Christian Center graciously leased us space in its educational wing. We had around 19 rooms, a science lab, and a gym, and we squeezed into every inch of it, placing teachers’ desks in the hallway and using both the library and science lab as classroom space. St. Ambrose Christian High School was inaugurated in 2005 as the school of rhetoric (grades 9-12) for Foundations Academy. By the incredible blessing and grace of God, we moved into our current new building weeks before the school year began in 2009. The name of the school was unified to The Ambrose School. Keep reading for more details on the creation of our facility.
Continuing on our path toward providing a new vision for education in the Boise valley, the board of directors passed a resolution in 2005 to seek accreditation from the Association of Classical Christian Schools. While the association has 235 members, it has fewer than 30 accredited schools. To become accredited, a school must be k-12, must teach at least two years of Latin or Greek in the upper school, must require math through trigonometry, and must teach logic and rhetoric (among many other requirements). These requirements make ACCS accreditation difficult to achieve for many schools. In May of 2006, the school was visited by representatives of three larger schools– Schaeffer Academy in Rochester, Minnesota, Westminster Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, and Regents School of Austin, Texas. They approved our accreditation in June of 2006.
Our Own Facility
In 2009, we moved into our own facility after ten years of design and five years of intensive planning and fundraising. As you enter, “Take Every Thought Captive To Christ” is immediately above you, reflecting our value from our original mission that “God is the foundation of all knowledge.” Our new facility reflects our values and mission.
Between 1209 and 1257, the scholastic age gave birth to the universities of Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge. The Christian church brought all ideas into unity under Christ in these early educational institutions. This was the golden age of classical Christian education. The campuses of these institutions are dominated by Tudor architecture (1485-1603). Because of this, Tudor architecture and excellent academic institutions are synonymous. Our facility is a reflection of our values. It shows on the outside what our school has been doing on the inside for more than a decade– producing students with exceptional maturity and understanding, and an ability to think and articulate well, all with a Christian worldview.
We believe that, as God’s image bearers, children benefit from an environment that lifts them to greater heights. Square block buildings are functional, but not beautiful. Adults and children alike notice the difference.
We appreciate the creative efforts of Wayne Thowless at LKV Architects for his inspired work on this facility and Jesse and LeaAnn Ferrer for their effort in crafting this place of learning.
A New Name
Also in 2009, the Board of Directors chose to unify our name. Previously, we were known as Foundations Academy in the grammar school and St. Ambrose Christian High School in the secondary. We merged the entire k-12 program under one name when we moved into our new facility – The Ambrose School. We chose to simplify the name in a way that would be consistent with our values. Ambrose was a 3rd century bishop who was classically educated. The story of his life reflects the values we seek in our students.
The school’s building is but a small part of our future vision. Each year, our music program grows larger, with the addition of an orchestra in 2005, and another performance orchestra in 2006. Our chime choir and vocal choir continues for the grammar and middle schools, as does an upper school choir. Each year, our Christmas program becomes more enjoyable as our students grow in their ability. With our visual arts, house program and competitive athletics, the school continues to provide a well-rounded educational experience.
We believe that students need to be practiced in wisdom and eloquence. This requires different subjects taught in an integrated way with a different method. In short, it requires a completely different way of looking at education. We hope you will join us in this vision.
- An interscholastic athletic organization playing competitive volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, and cross country as well as club soccer. We participate in the IHSAA, and won the school’s first 1AD1 state championship in basketball in 2016.
- A chess team that placed 7th nationally.
- A music program, including a cappella choir, chime choir and two orchestras, noted for its annual Traditional Christmas Program. This program typically draws an audience of over 1,200 people.
- An intramural competitive athletic league for all secondary students (our House program).
- Graduating more National Merit Scholarship recognized students as a percentage of graduating seniors than other area schools.
- One of the top programs in the state, our mock trial team has qualified for state each of the past nine years, participating in several championship rounds, and taking first place in 2014 and 2016.