Helping Teens Find Purpose in an Age of Anxiety and Depression

What is the one core life ingredient that every person must have? Without it teenagers can become susceptible to depression, anxiety and even suicide. But with it, a person is more likely to live in confidence, despite the challenges around him or her. And in particular, how does a school environment add to or take away from this ingredient? What is it? Purpose – and the reason why may surprise you.

Tom Velasco teaches 12th grade Humanities as well as Summa Civitas and 8th grade Logic. He holds a B.A. in History and Philosophy, and a minor in Latin. He has taught at The Ambrose School since 2000, including a five-year hiatus as associate pastor of a local church.

Dorothy Sayers’ essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” sparked Tom’s interest in classical Christian education, and as a philosophy major, he valued the Socratic model of instruction for the importance of thinking analytically and critically over the mere imbibing of information. Tom believes that education necessarily implies an “immersion” if you will. Says Tom, “I cannot compartmentalize my life and think of myself as a teacher only when in the classroom. Every moment I have with these kids is an opportunity to teach, or inspire, or provoke to good deeds. Deuteronomy 6:6-10 lays out for parents their responsibility as teachers of their children. This same responsibility is laid upon me as well, since I have been entrusted to aid them in this task. We must speak to them while sitting, while standing, while walking on the road. In short, we must look to every moment as an opportunity to teach them about the Lord and the good things He has done. I cannot think of teaching as a 9-5 job that I can escape from. I must immerse myself in it.”

Tom is from southern Oregon, but has lived in Boise for over 20 years. He enjoys just about everything, from movies, to backpacking in the Sawtooths, to playing football.

Tom speaks about finding purpose to 7th-12th grade students:

Upper School Exordium: Mr. Tom Velasco from The Ambrose School on Vimeo.