Voices of Wheaton Academy
Voices of Wheaton Academy on Race and Justice:
Isabelle Case and Greg Cox
To understand an experience that we haven’t all shared takes grace. It takes empathy. And most importantly, it takes listening.
Wheaton Academy was founded in 1853 by abolitionists who wanted to start a school that would train their kids to “fight the evils of society,” specifically slavery. Since its founding nearly 167 years ago, the Academy, along with American culture, has had its struggles with both conscious and unconscious racial bias. We acknowledge that the Wheaton Academy experience for students of color has not always been the same experience that it has been for white students. However, as we strive to become a Kingdom Community, one of the most important ways we can move forward is to listen to the many voices of those in our community.
These are their voices. These are their words… and we are listening.
Today we hear from Isabelle Case and Greg Cox.
Isabelle Case earned her B.S. in Mathematics from Wheaton College in 2019. While in college, she pursued a unique student teaching assignment in Australia at The Kilmore International School before joining the the Wheaton Academy math faculty.
Greg Cox graduated from Wheaton Academy in the class of ‘82 and is currently serving on our Kingdom Community Parent Advisory Team. He is married to Amy and has two children, Cody ’14 and Mia ’20.
Explain how your relationship with Wheaton Academy began and what has prompted you to serve on the Board/as a teacher/as a volunteer.
Isabelle Case: I got connected to Wheaton Academy in college at a vocational training program for young teachers. I was really encouraged by the interview process and knew that Wheaton Academy would be a great place to begin my teaching career.
Greg Cox: I was a 1982 graduate of Wheaton Academy. The school had a tremendous impact on me. The leadership and whole experience set up the trajectory of my life. My wife and I made the decision early on that we wanted our kids to attend Wheaton Academy. Mia graduated this year and our son Cody graduated 2014. We also picked up a daughter-in-law through Wheaton Academy (Cassie Stanton Cox). Steve Bult approached me about serving on Kingdom Community Advisory Team because I’ve been around Wheaton Academy since the 70s. Having an adopted Chinese daughter makes me want to be part of such an important initiative.
The WA Kingdom Community initiative has its biblical foundation in scripture as found in Revelation 7. How do you see this positively at work at Wheaton Academy?
Cox: The school is very different than when I went here in the late 70s and early 80s. I had a great experience, but when you look around, you see much more diversity than you did then. I see this current administration very much in touch and intentional with making it the place it needs to be from a diversity standpoint. Wheaton Academy has been very diligent, has looked to understand, has asked questions, and made an effort to change. It’s not easy, but really important. We’ve continued to make progress and move diversity forward. We may not be where we need to be yet, but I think we’re ahead of the rest of the world.
Wheaton Academy’s Kingdom Community is rooted in the belief that we are all created in the image of God. What real life applications does this belief have for WA students?
Case: Each and every person is due the respect given to God’s creation, indeed the creation He deemed as special and above all else. It is imperative for us as Christians to treat each other not just nicely, but with kindness, love, and respect. We can be better equipped in doing this by exposing ourselves to the stories and experiences of people who look/talk/act differently than we do.
Cox: We need to be accepting and inclusive. We need to care about each other, listen to each other, and have each other’s back. That needs to be true for students, parents, faculty, and the entire Wheaton Academy community.
Wheaton Academy was founded by abolitionist parents who were seeking to provide a biblical worldview for their kids and train them to “fight the evils of society at that time,” predominantly slavery. What can Wheaton Academy do to continue the fight against today’s “evils of society,” such as racism and bigotry?
Case: Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, and those who don’t are unaware of the present will remain stuck in the past. Education is one of the best tools to stop that cycle, across all subject matters. I would like to see continued curriculum change on behalf of underrepresented groups and demographics at Wheaton Academy for the benefit of ALL students.
How do you see the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent national protests, affecting the Wheaton community?
Case: I think people, particularly white people, are being forced to face the tension of racism and the ways it shows up in society. My hope is they’ll choose to lean into that tension and choose to grow and learn within these topics.
Cox: I think the murder of George Floyd might be one of the most disturbing things any of us have seen in our lifetimes. I think it’s wonderful that our school’s leadership had the vision and foresight to establish the Kingdom Community initiative a few years back and have invested time and resources in getting experts involved in helping us get better. The recent events have underscored that we are on the right track. The recent events are indicators that we’re not where we need to be yet and we still have work to do as a nation. My hope is that Wheaton Academy would lead in that movement.
Would you share your heart’s prayer for the Academy?
Case: In the coming years, I pray that Wheaton Academy will grow into a place that truly reflects the kingdom of God.
Cox: My prayer is that God would continue to have Wheaton Academy become a place where students can set a course for their lives that honors God. I would pray that the faculty would be aligned around this mission and that the leadership of the school would continue to take this school in a direction that is God-honoring. I would pray that the school’s impact would continue to echo for eternity.
We are thankful for the perspectives from our Wheaton Academy community. We honor these voices for their honesty and willingness to share so openly. And as we continue striving to be a Kingdom Community, we will continue to listen.