Interview with the Founders, David and Alejandra Miller
The first of a two-part interview with David and Alejandra Miller, Founders of Chesterton Academy of Detroit. David is the Board President; Alejandra is a board member.
Q: Tell us a little about yourselves and your family.
We are David and Alejandra Miller. I (David) grew up in Warren and got my BS in Mechanical Engineering from U of M Dearborn. My wife was born in Santiago, Chile, and grew up in Miami, Florida. She received her first degree at Florida International University, a BA in Design. Later after her reversion to the faith, she went on a different route and studied at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome where she earned a Masters in Theology of Evangelization, Cum Laude. We met while I was in Turin, Italy, at General Motors Diesel Engine Research and Development Center. We married in 2012 and had our first son Maximiliano Joseph in Turin. We relocated to Rochester, where we currently live and had Nicolas Karol in 2014 and Jacinta Maria Faustina in 2018. I continue to work in my field as an engineering specialist in the automotive sector while Alejandra stays at home with the children, writes, and teaches RCIA at our parish.
Q: Alejandra, you have a background in education. How have you been educating your children, and why is that important to you?
I have been working with children since I was 19. I have worked at all levels, from Pre-K to Adult Education. My favorite, by far, is teaching high school Theology. Overall I have about 18 years of teaching in Catholic schools and over 25 years in education as a whole. I have seen the good and the bad in Catholic education. I always knew that when I had children the most important thing I could give them, besides the faith, was a solid education. It wasn't until recently that we became aware of Classical education. When I began to learn more, I knew that that was the answer to so many ills in our society. It was the way so many great minds throughout history were trained. It gives children the tools they need to be firmly planted in the ways of Christ and the beauty this world has to offer. Up until now, our young children have attended a very wonderful gem of a school that is rooted in the Catholic faith. This year I will venture into the world of hybrid classical education. We believe firmly in what the Church teaches, the parents are the first educators, and if that is by means of homeschooling, hybrid schooling or a good Catholic full-time program the most important thing is to instill the faith with joy. We believe the biggest mistake is to leave education up to any school, no matter how good the school program seems. Our first vocation is to marriage and within that sacrament, we have promised to educate our children. Praised be God!
Q: So, tell us the story of how you came to start Chesterton Academy of Detroit.
While discerning how we would educate our still very small children, we began to realize that locally there were not many schools that fit our style of education. For various reasons we found ourselves questioning what we would do in the near future. I had been yearning to go back to work and realized that if I homeschooled I would not be able to do that. I asked myself what local families did in our situation. Sitting in the back of our church one Sunday Mass, I began to pray for this very intention during the Consecration. As the priest elevated the Most Blessed Sacrament I heard a voice in my heart say "You will open a school". Needless to say, I dismissed those words as just my own crazy desire to do something radical for my children's education. I forgot all about it until two years later when we were planning a trip to the Twin Cities to visit some friends. I had already come across the Chesterton Academy website way back when we were still living in Italy in 2012. I came across the website again, prior to our trip and asked my husband if he would mind visiting while we were in town. We did visit and we met with Dale Ahlquist, the founder. It was a very friendly meeting as if we had known him all of our life. He told us to move to the Twin Cities and work there. I told him I couldn't move to any place colder than Detroit! He laughed and followed my comment with "Why don't you open a Chesterton Academy in Detroit?" That's when it all came together and I immediately remembered the words while praying in the back of the Church. We came back home and began to search for local interested families. Here we are today, preparing to open our doors next fall.
Q: Why a Chesterton Academy, rather than some other model?
We feel strongly that Chesterton Academy encompasses all the qualities of Catholic Classical education that are vital to young people in today's society. It is rooted in the teachings of the Church, faithful to the Magisterium and taught with zeal and joy. Teaching faith without joy to young people is like trying to teach them a sport without any of the proper equipment—it's just not possible! They have to know and experience the joy that Christ brings that can only, in turn, be modeled through faithful Catholic adults. Chesterton Academies are Classical and seek to impart one of the greatest treasures of the Church: a solid education that is rooted in the history and tradition of the Church and the greatest minds, authors and thinkers of human history. Students will know that there is truth, goodness, and beauty in this world and it all hinges on the Incarnation of Christ. This will help them to overcome the temptations of what is passing, what is cheap and what is sinister in this world and help them to live a life of honor and goodness. The schools are based on G.K. Chesterton's spirituality and views on the world—a view that was filled with inquiry, intelligence, honesty and overall a sense of humor. And finally, we loved that Chesterton Schools promote Pro-Life causes, linking St. John Paul II's vision of a “Cultura Vitae” and therefore offering a great education at very reasonable tuition cost.