The New School Choice Agenda
A Dream Realized
Over the past decade, a group of mostly white, middle-class Christian couples have moved into Church Hill, the community served by Chimborazo Elementary School. Unlike most families in Church Hill, these four couples have the financial and social capital to send their kids to private schools or to homeschool. Yet they have chosen otherwise. Building on the firm foundation Principal Burke has laid, they want to help restore a community struggling against generational poverty, and they believe a key component is sending their own children to the community's public school.
Sophie, Luke, Jack, and Chanan are all kindergarteners at Chimborazo, but the story of how they arrived there begins before they were born.
In 1995, most of their parents met as first-year students at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville. They lived together for their final years of college (along with seven other men, including my husband) as an unintentionally diverse cohort: Corey Widmer, a lanky blonde interested in missional theology, and Matt Illian, then a cross-country runner, are white; Danny Avula, a stocky man who is quick to smile, is Indian; and Romesh Wijesooryia, a Jefferson scholar with athletic gifts that earned him a spot on the college's nationally ranked soccer team, is Sri Lankan. As the men's friendships developed, so did their awareness of the ethnic segregation among UVA's Christians. They wanted to figure out a way to bridge those divides.
So, Wijesooriya led a group of white and black Christians on a spring-break trip to Jackson, Mississippi, to meet Christian community development "grandfather" John Perkins and serve at his Voice of Calvary ministries. The trip sparked a vision. Widmer says, "[We] wondered if one day we might do this together—move into an urban community together and live out the principles of the Christian Community Development Association."