Providence’s Libertas Scholars Program introduces students to writers and ideas that have shaped our world. As the world drifts towards ever-expanding government solutions to problems (which are, more often than not, created by the very same government), students become ready to apply their humanities backgrounds and economic skills to critique ill-advised approaches to modern challenges and suggest constructive ideas of their own.
Travel to conferences
Last summer, the Libertas group traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota, for their first experience with FreedomFest, a national conference organized by economist Mark Skousen. It was a wonderful experience, rich with speakers and lively debates.
As another summer approaches, so does a return to FreedomFest, this year in Las Vegas July 13-16. With a lineup including comedian and actor John Cleese, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Forbes editor Steve Forbes, former presidential economics advisors Art Laffer and Stephen Moore, actor Ben Stein, writer Eric Metaxas, “Words and Numbers” podcaster James Harrigan, and Senator Rand Paul, this year’s FreedomFest offers a select group of Providence Libertas Scholars plenty of intellectual food for thought. Students will have many options at a buffet of over 200 speakers, movie shorts, debates, and discussions.
Participating in community events
As everything opened up this April, a group of Libertas Scholars attended the Reagan Ranch Center’s Ronald Reagan birthday bash with Dennis Quaid; a few weeks later, ten students took in a fact-filled defense of school choice by Corey DeAngelis at a YAF luncheon.
All Libertas Scholars have been engaged in reading, discussing, and writing about a series of books during the year, including (but not limited to!) Silence, by Shusaku Endo, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Jay Richards’ Money, Greed, and God, and Henry Hazlitt’s classic Economics in One Lesson. These four books taught students about the persecution of Christians in medieval Japan, life in a Soviet gulag, a Christian defense of free markets, and Hazlitt’s one simple lesson of economics, applied to a plethora of examples, written 70 years ago but just as relevant today.
As Mr. Jamie DeVries transitions to head this program during the 2022-23 school year, we anticipate a host of opportunities for students to learn how a deep understanding of the ideas of our Founders, combined with robust entrepreneurship, will help Providence students continue to vigorously promote human flourishing.
Jamie DeVries has accepted the invitation to join the Providence faculty, beginning in the 2022–2023 academic year. A veteran teacher, Mr. DeVries has devoted the past 23 years of his professional life to helping students succeed, in and beyond the classroom. He is the founder and director of the Entrepreneurship Academy at San Marcos High School, as well as the nonprofit organization Kids Helping Kids, which has raised over $4.5 million for disadvantaged children, locally and globally.
Mr. DeVries has taught United States history and economics courses at all levels, including Advanced Placement (AP) classes, first at Santa Ynez High School and primarily at San Marcos High School. He has also taught dual-enrollment business courses in entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, and more through Santa Barbara City College. At Providence, he will teach economics, government, and humanities courses in the Upper School. He will collaborate with current teacher Bruce Rottman, who announced he is retiring at the end of the current school year, to prepare for his new teaching assignment.
With devotion to helping students succeed in academics and in life, Mr. DeVries has created many opportunities to influence students beyond the classroom, including founding an international education tour company and leading summer tours throughout Europe, organizing and leading high school service-learning trips to Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, and India, and creating a local youth mentorship program.
A graduate of Westmont College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business, Mr. DeVries holds a single-subject teaching credential through Chapman University. Additionally, he is a certified life coach, having trained in the Stanford University Design Your Life program. He is the recipient of many local, state, and national awards, including Santa Barbara County’s Superintendent Bill Cirone “Heart of Education Award” (2019), Santa Barbara County “Distinguished Educator of the Year” (2011), and was named one of Westmont College’s “80 Notable Alumni” (celebrating Westmont’s 80th anniversary).
Jamie DeVries and his wife, Tiffany, already are integral members of the Providence community, with their two children enrolled in the Preschool and Lower School. Through his children’s experience at Providence, Jamie has become passionate about Christian education. “When a teacher visits our backyard to welcome our child to school and to pray with her, there are no words to describe that profound experience,” he relates.
“From my perspective, faith and learning are inseparable and I truly believe we are called to be doers of the word. There are countless opportunities to incorporate faith into daily curriculum; for me it comes down to living a life worthy of God’s calling by searching after truth and appreciating the liberties that we have been given.”
Mr. Rottman and Mr. DeVries are professional acquaintances, having met at an economics teachers conference in Utah in 2017. There, they discovered a mutual passion for the freedom philosophy. “Students under my direction have always come to appreciate the gifts of freedom that our founders have passed down, as well as the veterans who have protected these gifts,” says Mr. DeVries, “and this underscores much of my worldview and how I deliver curriculum. The opportunity to teach the philosophical principles of liberty and free markets from a foundation of faith and in a community that strives to pursue Christ together is a welcome responsibility and a personal blessing.”
Bruce Rottman, Upper School humanities, economics, and government teacher, plans to retire from full-time classroom teaching at the end of the current school year. Mr. Rottman joined the Providence Hall faculty in 2009 and has played a pivotal role in Providence School’s development and flourishing.
A fulltime high school teacher since 1980, Mr. Rottman has enjoyed 42 consecutive years fulfilling his lifelong passion to teach. His career has taken the Muskegon, Michigan native to both Christian and independent schools in Florida (Naples Christian Academy), Northern California (Contra Costa Christian School), Washington (Lynden Christian School), Wisconsin (Brookfield Academy) and finally, southern California (Providence School).
“I am grateful God has granted me all these years and incredible opportunities to shape the minds and hearts of the next generation,” says Mr. Rottman. “I have had the privilege to not only guide young minds in how to think, but I’ve also been able to guide them as they discern what to think about the topics I believe are noble, virtuous, and important to advancing God’s Kingdom.”
When Mr. Rottman joined Providence Hall, the high school, founded in 2007, was still in its start-up phase. “Under God’s providence and through the persistent effort of our board members, administrators, faculty, and supporters, we have created a wonderful school that provides stellar opportunities for students to engage with great ideas, grow spiritually, and develop the skills and habits that will serve them well in college and throughout their lives,” he reflected.
Rod Meadth, Upper School principal, says he expects Mr. Rottman’s retirement will bring mixed emotions from the faculty and student body. “Bruce has been a pillar of our teaching community over the years, with many students attesting to his good influence in their lives. Students coming up may be disappointed to learn he is retiring, but we can’t expect him to teach forever! After 42 years of devotion to his craft and hundreds of students having passed through his classroom, he has earned a rest. But I know that the lives he has shaped will continue to pass on that good influence in their own families, businesses, and communities. Bruce is passionate about building the Kingdom of God with excellence and understanding, and he can be proud of having done just that. This is his legacy.”
Mr. Rottman looks forward to whatever the future holds outside the classroom, which is likely to be a combination of consulting, part-time teaching, writing, creating art, renovating an older home, and spending time with his family. To ease into retirement, he has accepted a one-year position to launch a free market institute and teach a dual-credit economics class at Brookfield Academy, in conjunction with Concordia University Wisconsin.
“I will never retire from sharing my passion for liberty and sound economics and how those ideals reduce poverty and contribute to human flourishing,” Mr. Rottman says. “Without a doubt, I remain committed to the Providence mission and to seeing the school I’ve been privileged to help build succeed at every level. I am confident God has provided an excellent new faculty member in Jamie DeVries, who will bring his own mix of talents and skills to benefit our students.”
TRIAD (Travel, Research, Investigate, Apprentice, Discover), is an in-depth exploration of student/faculty interests designed to promote active engagement with topics that promote curiosity, collaboration, and problem-solving. Providence, an independent Preschool–Grade 12 school in Santa Barbara, is restructuring the Upper School (grades 9–12) academic calendar into three terms to make room for the exciting new program launching in May 2022.
TRIAD offers students the opportunity to delve into areas of interest outside of regular coursework. Creatively designed classes encourage critical thinking and appreciation for increased complexity or challenge. This third term with capstone presentations will further the Providence blueprint vision of strategic influence in Santa Barbara and beyond as the school seeks to prepare students to engage and serve their communities.
TRIAD showcases the diverse abilities of talented faculty while offering a broader range of courses for students to explore. Students may experiment with something new or choose to do a deep dive into areas of academic interest. Students may also earn course credit through internships, international travel, and independent study. Students receive 2.5 to 5 credits for each two-week course, depending on scope and challenge.
Tentative course proposals include: Athens & Crete Excursion (antiquities and history), Backcountry Hiking (first aid and wilderness training), Toward a Moral Vision of Games (game theory), Business and Entrepreneurship, Linoleum Block Printmaking, Plein Air Painting, Mock Trial, Movie Making, Triathlon Training, and Conversational Spanish and Spain Excursion. Additional options are being developed to match faculty expertise and passion with student interest.
The name “TRIAD,” suggests the idea of three things fitting harmoniously together; for example, a chord of three tones. This three-part motif runs through the Providence School motto, “Pursuing truth, beauty, and excellence,” as well as the educational blueprint for achieving the goals of Intellectual Preparation, Spiritual Formation, and Strategic Influence. Additionally, participating in the TRIAD program will amplify three outcomes for students: developing their interests, their aptitudes, and their passions.
Middle and Upper School principal Rodney Meadth is excited and eager to launch TRIAD. Speaking about the new program, he says:
“Providence School rests solidly upon the creativity and enthusiasm of our teachers and students. We learned a lot during COVID about how resourceful and adaptable our teachers and students are. As an independent school, we have broad freedom to craft programs and classes that we believe are worth pursuing—not because any external entity requires it of us. TRIAD gives us a chance to showcase the talent and experience of our community in unexpected ways!”
To learn more about TRIAD and other educational opportunities for preschool through high school students at Providence, contact Admissions Director Tawny Kilpper (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 805-962-3091.