Chris Westrate

At New Hope since 1999
B.A., English and History, Gordon College
M.A., English Literature, U.Mass. Boston

Christopher Westrate was reading the classics at a very early age (just what you might expect from the son of an English teacher!). Try as he might, he was unable to leave the books of his childhood behind, and he now finds himself teaching those age-old narratives he grew to love. After receiving his B.A. in English and History from Gordon College, Chris went on to study for his M.A. in Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. It was during his graduate studies that he began teaching the very first students of New Hope. Chris loves the Christ-centered learning that has been at the heart of New Hope from its beginning nearly nine years ago. His classes engage the great works of literature, our need to write articulately and thoughtfully, our need to speak with clarity and conviction, and our responsibility to grow in all of these areas for the sake of Truth.

When people ask Chris Westrate why he cares about poems, novels, essays and plays, he is sure to respond that he loves literature for some of the same reasons Jesus' followers loved His parables:

We are people who tell stories. As individuals we tell stories about our experiences, our families, and our ambitions. We tell stories about our salvation, our community of faith, our personal experience of the Risen Lord. Jesus did not come to the common person preaching ironclad theological dictums and dogmas. He came telling stories. He knows, as the Author of Life, that we receive truths, conviction and, in some real sense, the fullness of the knowledge of Himself in the stories he told. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, two sons, a prodigal returning, a lost pearl or coin, a Sower of seed, our Fisherman’s glorious net. Jesus took the basic stories of his contemporaries-a lost sheep, a dismal night’s fishing, and the disparity between themselves and their rich neighbors-and in these stories, gave them the Kingdom of God.

”Therefore, I am dedicated to all of our stories, those we tell each other around our New Hope seminar tables and those we read in the great writers like Aeschylus, St. Augustine, Dostoevsky, Hawthorne, Hemingway, O’Connor, etc. We convey stories in how we persuade our hearers and readers (persuasive writing). We tell our stories in “life writing” and in how we write about the literature we read. Most importantly, we tell the story of Christ Himself. Literary studies, and the accompanying study of written and oral communication, ought not be separate from Him who is called ‘Word of God’. Therefore, at New Hope we attempt to be good storytellers: excellent readers of the great classics, truly articulate writers and speakers, and dedicated witnesses to the truth that we have received in Christ Jesus.
— Chris Westrate

English classes at New Hope are conducted according to the traditional university model. We participate in corporate learning (in classes of 8-10 students) while sitting around a seminar table. The tutor leads discussions about the curriculum, both striving for content acquisition and working to improve the critical thinking and discernment skills of the students. Students present ideas, questions, and written papers which provoke further exploration in the content areas.

Our slate of classes runs from 6th grade to senior year. We have built this program with the intention of providing a top-notch classical education in English Studies while at the same time growing and nurturing our students' love of reading, writing and speaking. Though our basic order of classes remains our ideal, it is possible and sometimes helpful to change the order for certain students or during certain years.

New Hope's literature tutorials are accelerated, but it must be stressed-and cannot be overstated-that New Hope seeks to accommodate all students who we believe are up to the challenge. We work with students at whatever level they come to us. “After eight years of experience, I have found that the overwhelming majority of our students, though challenged by our English program, are extremely successful in their goals. That is, they become better readers, writers and speakers.”