God blesses some of us with vision and with lives of clear purpose and meaning— and to some of us he adds the time and opportunity to accomplish what we have been given to do. The life of Cheryl Lowe, Publisher at Memoria Press and Headmistress of Highlands Latin School, was this kind of life. Mrs. Lowe grew up just outside of Louisville, Kentucky, attended the university there, and became a science teacher. She disliked what education was becoming and decided to homeschool her two sons at a time when homeschooling was still in its infancy.
After reading about classical education, she decided she wanted to teach them Latin, but at that time there was no program to teach it to young children. So she wrote a program called Latina Christiana, which she later began selling to other homeschool parents. She bound it herself in her garage.
I met Cheryl in the early 1990s, when both of us were involved in an intense public debate over a statewide education reform of Kentucky schools. She wrote our articles in a newsletter published by a small group of mothers concerned about their children’s education. The articles were written in simple and direct prose, and they explained precisely and eloquently what was wrong with the revolutionary school reform law our state had passed, a law that proposed to reform schools by implementing many of the same fads and gimmicks which had been a part of previous reforms.
To this day, most of what I know about education I learned from those four articles.
By 1998 when I joined Cheryl as the first employee of Memoria Press, her Latin book was selling in the thousands by word of mouth. We had two computers and we worked in the attic over her garage.
Cheryl had two major goals: She wanted to start a classical Christian school, and she wanted to establish a publishing company to provide private schools and homeschools with the tools to accomplish what to some people seemed impossible.
Her school began by meeting one day a week at a local church. As the school expanded, it moved to a larger church, and then later added its Spring Meadows campus. Highlands Latin School now serves over 600 students from K-12th grades.
Memoria Press now publishes the school’s curriculum, a curriculum which Cheryl conceived and designed, and which is used in home and private schools across the nation and the world. Her family, friends, and co-workers knew her as a wise and far-seeing visionary, as well as a simple, down-to-earth mother and teacher. In a better age there would be statues erected to such a person. And yet in her case, such statues would be superfluous.
In C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, a world is under an evil enchantment, and many of its inhabitants have been turned to stone. The story is about the redemption of this world, and the giving of life to lifeless statues.
There are now thousands of students who have graduated from the school Cheryl founded and from the many schools and homeschools that were influenced by her work. These students are living statues— testimonies to the dedication and hard work of one homeschooling mother with a clear vision and a singular purpose.
We will miss her.
Originally published in The Classical Teacher Winter 2018 edition