Educational VisionWe begin with the end in mind. As creatures made for union with God, we can only find true fulfillment through an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. And that relationship demands engagement from the whole person: body, mind and soul. In all that we do at St. Martin’s – farm-work, study and prayer – we seek to create a rich and fertile soil for God to do His work in cultivating Saints.
Nurture authentic masculinityRather than a coarse, superficial machismo, authentic masculinity demands perseverance in pursuit of the arduous good. It requires constant self-denial in service of God, family, and community. Boys at St. Martin’s will do hard things everyday to counteract our deeply rooted human tendency toward softness and sloth.
Heal the imaginationAn imagination fed predominantly on the neon glow of screens is weakened by passivity and contact with the unreal. St. Martin’s replaces screens and the noise of pop culture with the great outdoors and with folk music and poetry — giving mind and heart the time and space to acclimate to the deeper beauty of God’s creation.
Awaken wonderSt. Martin’s will place boys in the constant, near occasion of wonder. The love of learning and the desire for God are magnified by the response of wonder in the face of Mystery and Beauty. Beholding Orion on a crisp winter’s evening, young minds will begin to stir with an affinity for first things and questions about our origin and destiny.
Develop attentivenessDeep prayer requires sustained attentiveness, a skill all but lost in our era of sound-bytes and instant gratification. Boys at St. Martin’s will learn to look beyond themselves in establishing habits of mind and soul sensitive to the silent places where God is found: in the Eucharist, in the wisdom of Creation, and within their own hearts.
“Noise is a whirlwind that avoids looking oneself in the face and confronting the interior emptiness…What will become of our world if it cannot find oases of silence?”
Robert Cardinal Sarah
Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship
Life at St. Martin’s
Situated in the mixed prairie and woodlands of rural Bourbon County, Kansas, St. Martin’s Academy offers a rare retreat from “Noise” and creates a space for boys to be boys. These are young men in motion, with field, forest and stream offering a theatre for both study and play.
Take a glimpse into our weekdays
Note: On Wednesdays the entire school turns out for a full day’s work on the farm.
7:00am: Rise and Chores“…only meaningful work can provide the soil in which festivity flourishes.” – Josef Pieper
8:00am: Mass“Liturgy is the consummation of education and the ultimate school of our humanity.” – Stratford Caldecott
9:00am: Breakfast“The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” Matthew 11:19
9:30am: Classes“If there is one mark more striking than another about the Catholic Church it is its intellectual freedom.” -Hilaire Belloc
12:00pm: Angelus & Lunch“Tis not the food, but the content, That makes the table’s merriment.” -Robert Herrick
1:05pm: Classes“A truly great intellect is one which takes a connected view of old and new, past and present, far and near, and which has an insight into the influence of all these one on another.” -Blessed John Henry Newman
3:30pm: Athletics“To become a man one must be broken to bodily hardship and bodily strain such as are called forth in athletic contests.” -Fr. Edward Leen
5:30pm: Rosary“He must bring the natural powers of the soul under the influence of grace, and this he does through prayer.” -St. Bonaventure
6:00pm: Dinner“This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks this ain’t normal” – Joel Salatin
7:00pm: Study Hall“To open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it, to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, eloquent expression.” -Blessed John Henry Newman
8:30pm: Free Time“Man only plays when he is in the fullest sense of the word a human being, and he is only fully a human being when he plays.” -Friedrich Schiller
9:30pm: Compline“In manus tuas Domine, commendo spiritum meum / Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” -Responsory of Compline
10:00pm: Retire“Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.” -St. Augustine
The Good life…
LiturgyMindful of the Benedictine dictum ora et labora – pray and work, St. Martin’s Academy is committed to a cultural revitalization centered in the Mass. The liturgy is at the very heart of the school’s life and mission. Students attend Mass, pray the Rosary, and sing Compline daily while participating actively in the calendar of the Church’s liturgical year.
AcademicsSt Martin’s is no industrial assembly line of workforce preparation. It is an encounter with the Real in its organic form, as faith and reason are brought into contact with daily life. Our rigorous academics include Latin, Greek, Logic, Physics, and Natural History (to name a few), and are a thorough preparation for any college or vocation.
FarmingBoys “labor in the vineyards” as full participants in a diversified farming enterprise that incorporates animal husbandry and permaculture. Respecting the rich natural resources of southeast Kansas, our farm-to-table operation helps boys learn the value of hard work and good stewardship, while connecting them to the food they eat.
SportsRugby is played in the Spring in the competitive Kansas and Missouri region. Fall semester features our unique Functional Outdoor Resilience Training—FORT Leadership Program. Run by outdoorsmen and former military, FORT develops fitness, teamwork, and grit through intense physical and mental challenges.
RecreationWith immense natural resources available, weekends and free-time at St. Martin’s will offer students limitless opportunities in fishing, camping, kayaking, boating, backpacking, hiking, rock-climbing, and bush-craft. Complementing these outdoor activities will be trips to nearby cities to enjoy museums, plays, concerts and other cultural events.
MusicAs you go about your daily life, how often do you hear voices in song? If you hear much at all you are with us in a happy minority. Saint Martin’s as a campus and culture is suffused in song where students are encouraged to be makers of music rather than simply consumers. This is not an exercise in nostalgia, but participation in vibrant oral culture.
“The only honest endowment for a school is a self-sufficient farm, without machines, to feed a chaplain, teachers, a cook, and boys who eat like hogs but also hoe, chop, pitch hay, and shovel dung.”
– John Senior
The Restoration of Innocence
In essence, St. Martin’s is a faculty of friends united in Christ around a common vision of the good life and a desire to share that vision with young men of good-will.
Daniel Kerr, Headmaster
BA: University of DallasDaniel Kerr’s desire to start St. Martin’s began well over 15 years ago after reading John Senior’s short work on the founding of a boys’ school, The Restoration of Innocence. Prior to St. Martin’s, Mr. Kerr co-founded AdjusterPro, helping lead the growth of a two-man operation into a substantial team – approaching 50 people as of April 2022 – that has become the nation’s leading educational provider in insurance adjuster & appraiser licensing. In 2015, in conjunction with Fr. McElwee, Daniel started The Prairie Troubadour, an annual Symposium of Catholic Culture named in honor of his father, the late Gerald F. Kerr. Mr. Kerr and his wife Katie raise their seven spirited children on a farm bustling with cattle, hogs, sheep and a variety of barnyard fowl.
Adam Taylor, Assistant Headmaster
BA: American Public University SystemMr. Taylor recognized his calling to education from an early age; his parents James and Linda were both teachers, musicians and poets who instilled in their children the love of the True, Good and Beautiful. However, his path to realizing that calling took a bit longer than most. After graduating from St. Mary’s Academy (NE Kansas), Mr. Taylor briefly attended Kansas State University, before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in December 1992. For 20 years, he served in a variety of leadership roles and worldwide locations, retiring in May of 2013. Since then, he’s worked for Cloudera, Inc., most recently in the role of VP, Professional Services. He has a lifelong love of history, literature, the outdoors, and sport, and is passionate about building, developing and leading great teams. Mr. Taylor and his wife Annie and two children currently reside in Fort Scott, KS; his son Ian is a member of our founding class of 2021.
Kenneth Klassen, Academic Dean
BA, MA, Ph.D.: University of KansasDr. Klassen has devoted his life to education. With over 40 years teaching experience in a variety of subjects from Calculus and Physics to English and Latin, Dr. Klassen’s warmth and wit have made him a beloved and revered figure in the Fort Scott community. He and his wife, Holly, raised 7 children on a small farm where they embraced agrarian living long before it was cool: milking a cow, growing vegetables, raising chickens and a variety of livestock as they enjoyed encountering God in His other book, the book of Nature.
Bryan Meyers, Dean of Student Life
BA: Northern Illinois UniversitySome people’s lives are changed by experiences. Some people’s lives by mentors. Bryan’s life was changed by books. Soon after high school it thus became apparent to him that, if possible, he wanted to spend his life reading books and sharing this love of all things literary with others. In the goodness of God, his wish was made a reality, and he has spent most of his professional life teaching, even lending a hand in the accreditation process of two classical Christian schools. As a teacher, his philosophy is simple: He loves books and he loves children, and he teaches, in the words of Wendell Berry, “merely by introducing the one to the other.” He and his beautiful wife and four children are glad to call Fort Scott and Saint Martin’s Academy home.
Sebastian Macik, Chef and Teacher
BA: Wyoming Catholic CollegeChef Macik has always been convinced that good times need good food. He attended Wyoming Catholic College, where he worked in the kitchen and formed various singing and juggling troupes. After graduation, Sebastian spent a year teaching in Mexico, where he developed a love for authentic Mexican cooking styles. Seb then moved to Dallas, got married, and taught for a year at a classical charter school before joining us as one of the founding members of the St. Martin’s Academy staff. He still enjoys singing, juggling, and creating masterpieces in the kitchen, and his excitement is infectious. He and his wife Erin have two children, and are expecting their third in September.
Ryan Bauer, Teacher
BS: Southern Illinois University MS: Colorado State UniversityRyan’s deep love for Sacred Scripture, liturgy and science have fostered his passion to teach the unity of Faith and Reason. Ryan has always been convicted of his calling to teach and mentor young adults in experiential learning. His undergraduate years were spent studying physics and playing Division I soccer. His love for the outdoors and admiration of the mountains led him to Colorado where he earned his masters in physics. Ryan then spent two years with the Franciscan Friars Minor in South Bend, Indiana learning many valuable lessons in simplicity, prayer and living in community life. Ryan and his wife Danielle (our secretary) were married in 2019 on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
Charles Gentry, Teacher
BA, JD: University of KansasCharles Gentry maintained a general law practice in Fort Scott from 1975, when he graduated from the KU School of Law, until retirement in 2020. He has served on the Fort Scott Planning Commission and City Commission, and as Mayor. He has also served as judge pro tem in municipal, magistrate and district courts. Mr. Gentry is a member of the Fort Scott Street Advisory Board, the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation Board, and the Mary Queen of Angels Finance Council. His interests include sailing and fly fishing.
Raymond Spiotta, Scholar in Residence
BA: Hillsdale College
MA: Polis InstituteMr. Spiotta’s role as Scholar-in-Residence at St. Martin’s is to champion the intellectual life among students and faculty alike. Mr. Spiotta is fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew and possesses a rare command of Sacred Scripture. Now, after several years teaching at Classical charter schools in both the Phoenix and Dallas areas, he is “all afire” to be able to teach not only Latin, but also Humanities and the Bible, at a Catholic school. Mr. Spiotta also leads, with Mr. Visser’s assistance, our growing schola.
JohnMark Slothower, Teacher and Timber Operations
BA: Philosophy and Religion
MA: ClassicsAs a woodworker and aspiring lifelong learner, JohnMark Slothower has devoted himself to the pursuit of understanding the true as well as making the beautiful. He has studied German, Philosophy, and Classics. He has also worked with masters of furniture-making and antique furniture conservation, and additionally has outfitted his own workshop as a fine woodworker. JohnMark and his wife Allie are settling into Fort Scott and welcomed their first child, Helena, in April 2022.
Ryan Elefson, Teacher
BA: Hillsdale CollegeMr. Elefson brings a love of learning, of faith, and of song with him to Saint Martin's. He earned his degree in history from Hillsdale College in 2014, and he has taught for five years in classical schools in Dallas and Phoenix. While in college, Mr. Elefson found camaraderie with classmates by joining in the recitation of poems and leading hearty renditions of traditional Irish songs. Since then, he has also adopted the mellower tones of Gregorian chant for the service of the liturgy. Mr. Elefson is delighted to bring together both the mirth of music and its solemnity at Saint Martin's and share these with the students of the Academy. He and his wife were married in July 2022, and they are happy to establish their home together in Fort Scott.
John Prezzia, House Father
BA: University of Wisconsin—MadisonResidential house life guru and combat sports specialist, Mr. Prezzia is excited to begin his first year at St. Martin's. Several years of teaching at classical schools, and coaching various sports at the elementary through collegiate levels, have fostered a deep appreciation for the formation of boys into young men through spiritual, intellectual, and physical disciplines. Mr. Prezzia particularly looks forward to learning how to milk a cow, and the Academy's first state rugby championship.
Eamon Maher, House FatherEamon Maher comes to us from Dallas, Texas. He is the oldest of 6 and brings with him a wealth of experience in the outdoors. He spent the past summer working as a plumber's assistant, bringing a skill that will be in high demand with group of hungry boys. He also brings a love of music and philosophical, theological and political discourse. Having three younger brothers, he's no stranger to wrangling boys and other animals and plans to bring those skills to bear at St. Martin's this year
Rev. Anthony Pillari, Chaplain and Teacher
BA: University of Notre Dame
STL: L’Institut Saint Thomas d’Aquin
JCL: St. Paul University
MCL: University of OttawaFr. Pillari is a Roman Catholic priest who holds degrees in philosophy, theology, and canon law and is currently studying for doctorates in Canon Law and Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been engaged in apostolates for children and young families for the past 20 years, including a variety of home-schooling apostolates, and is the creator and host of Our Lady of the Rosary Family Catechism.
St. Martin of ToursOur patron served as an elite soldier in the Emperor’s guard in the Roman army in the early 4th century. It was during this period that Martin branded Christian consciousness with the iconic image of the mounted soldier giving his cloak to a freezing beggar. Soldier, monk, bishop, mystic, and saint: Martin exemplifies every ambition of the Academy for its students. St. Martin’s feast on November 11th, known formerly as Martinmas, was for centuries a kind of Catholic Thanksgiving where roasted beast and the fruits of the harvest adorned the table to be enjoyed in community. At St. Martin’s Academy, Martinmas is celebrated in that same spirit as we delight in the true festivity made possible by meaningful work.
Duc in AltumOur motto, Duc in altum (from our Lord’s direction to Peter, James and John to “cast out into deep waters”), goes beyond good fishing advice. It sums up the boldness of the adventure to which our Lord calls each of us in pursuit of His Will. You can play safely in the shallows, or, casting out into the deep, catch something of real, everlasting value.
Theotokos Hall (Commons / Lodge)We broke ground on our first and largest building in Fall 2017, and our students moved in at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year. Sustainably constructed of native oak timbers and stone, this building has served the needs of the entire school and remains the permanent dining hall and hearth now that our student bunkhouses have been constructed.
BunkhousesIn 2020 we added six bunkhouses and were able to relocate most of the student body from the temporary dorms in Theotokos Hall. These simple, spartan structures typically house six boys each, under the leadership of a Senior Prefect.
Additional BunkhousesWith our student body at its planned capacity of roughly 60 boys, we have completed construction of our bunkhouses to give us a total of ten, each housing five to seven young men. Our bunkhouses have simple but sufficient amenities and are maintained, cleaned and cared for by the students.
Library & AmphitheatreAs our school and campus mature, we’ll add a beautiful, sustainably constructed academic building with classrooms, faculty offices and a robust library. An amphitheater for plays, concerts, talent shows and re-enactments of Pericles’ funeral oration will grace the hillside.
ChapelThe crown jewel of our campus will be our Chapel, built of native stone and situated on the highest point of campus, facing due East. From Morning Prayer and Holy Mass to the recitation of the Rosary and the chanting of Compline, life will radiate outwards from the Blessed Sacrament to give meaning and purpose to everything we do at St. Martin’s.
Nature is never spent. There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Will your son be in high school in Fall 2023? Let’s talk. Please submit this form and we’ll be in touch to discuss whether Saint Martin’s might be a good fit.
St. Martin’s Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, and ethnic origin in administration of any of its policies and programs.