Jeffrey Bromme, Esq. Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer
I had the privilege of obtaining 16 years of Seventh-day Adventist education. I began as a first-grader at Keene Adventist Elementary School (KAES), and graduated as an eighth-grader there in 1975. I then went across town and enrolled at Chisholm Trail Academy (CTA), from which I graduated in 1979. From there, I attended what was then known as Southwestern Adventist College, now Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU). After I graduated from SWAU, it was with some trepidation that I left the comfortable Adventist community in Keene and spent my first day in a public school setting, at the University of Texas School of Law. I remember being a bit intimidated by the sparkling academic credentials of some of my classmates. Many of them had attended well-known, excellent private or public universities around the country. One of my best friends was a graduate of Dartmouth University; another had attended Columbia University. I think all the major Ivy League and prestigious public universities were represented in our large law school class. How would I fare?As it turns out, my Adventist education had prepared me very well for that law school experience. I was fortunate enough to build on that foundation and perform very well academically in that setting, and have, since my law school graduation in 1986, been blessed with an enjoyable and stimulating legal career, in private practice, in government service and now at AdventHealth, headquartered near Orlando, FL. It amuses me now, when I reflect on my own experience, and that of many of my contemporaries, when I hear people express reservations about the strength and value of Adventist education. In some instances, those who express reservations have themselves enjoyed excellent career success, yet they fail to credit the important role that Adventist schools played in that success.At their best, Adventist schools teach values and character lessons that are increasingly sought in our society and workplace. Faith-based education creates a different end product than education that is not centered in faith. I remember how in our smaller classrooms and extra-curricular activities, individual students were given frequent opportunities to lead organizations, to speak in front, to be challenged directly and frequently by gifted teachers. You couldn’t be a number a hide in the background in the schools I attended. Opportunities for growth and learning were everywhere. Little did I realize at the time that many of my colleagues at law school had come from large settings where those opportunities seemed less obvious. There were many spiritually-influential teachers in my Adventist education. My first-grade teacher had been a missionary in Ethiopia, and she brought that perspective to our classroom. My fourth-grade teacher led us in challenging worships each morning from the book of Hebrews and then gathered us around the piano to sing together. Our principal, Delano Gilliam, was a force of nature who insisted on excellence in every sphere. I remember so many others in those KAES years whose academic rigor was matched by modeling what it meant to live a committed Christian life. One of my first experiences at CTA was a school-wide revival led by upper-class students who had returned from a Bible conference. At SWAU, I was influenced by deep thinkers and accessible mentors like Don McAdams and Erwin Sicher. It isn’t possible in this short space to credit and remember all the strong influences that shaped my intellect and character in those years of Adventist education. However, I will be forever grateful for those 16 years. My wife and I have three children now. They are not done with their education yet, but together they have been shaped by nearly 35 years of Adventist education thus far, and we are very pleased. We are so thankful for schools where the life lessons we teach at home are reinforced, rather than torn down. I do not wish to criticize parents or families that make other choices regarding their children’s education. I am quite passionate, however, in reassuring those same parents and families that if they choose Adventist education – provided it is adequately staffed and appropriately funded, as my schools were – they will not regret that choice, and their children will have every opportunity to succeed, both today and for eternity.