The inspiration for the school begins with the ideals, world view, and conception about man of Orthodox Christianity, incarnated in progressive classroom practices. Outwardly differing little from quality schools employing classic and innovative teaching methods, the school will nevertheless function in the spirit of the Christian values as they have been lived out in the two-thousand-year tradition of the Eastern Church.
Recently, the need for more value-based education has been the topic of public discussion in Estonia. In the latest National Curriculum for basic schools value competence is listed as most important, ahead of learning and social competences. To realize this objective, St John the Evangelist School does not have to "reinvent the wheel" from a host of positive but unclearly defined notions. It has the advantage of simply employing the centuries old wisdom reaching back to early Christianity.

We embrace the valuable, insightful and confirmed Orthodox teaching about the process of man's growth and his glorious potential. We believe this teaching is universally applicable. This is why the school is open to children coming from all backgrounds. The method in applying Christian values is not to impose the dogmas of the Church, even when religion is the topic of the class, but to penetrate to the universal qualities of the human soul and to aid their coming to fruition.

A healthy approach to influencing the world in a good way can only start with looking inside oneself. In the words of one 18th century Russian Saint, Seraphim of Sarov, "Seek to acquire inner peace, and thousands around you will be saved". The Orthodox tradition already possesses concretely defined methods that help achieve this goal of acquiring good inner qualities.

 

The functioning of the school can be thought of as that of a greenhouse where the purpose is to prepare the seedling for the colder outdoors. Therefore the dual task is to offer initial nurturing and protection while keeping in mind that isolation is not the goal. Be in the world, not of the world.

 

Love and freedom are closely and intransically connected. The basis for freedom and creativity is order. Love for order and rhythm in the classes, in the daily and yearly schedule. The school offers that children be witnesses to the life of the Church but respects their freedom for personal choices and self-determination.

The Estonian Education Strategy 2020 provides for "Placing greater importance on the personality differences of the students, different talents (practical, artistic, social, emotional) and different cultural backgrounds (including affilia­tion with ethnic minorities) and giving these greater consideration in teaching and grading".

The aim of supporting ethnic identities is intentional. The hierarchy of values determines the priorities. The spirit of Christianity, of being the children of God, is above the divisions of ethnicity and unites, although ethnicity has an important role to play in the formation of identity.

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity

(Quotation attributed to St Augustine)

The school seeks to co-operate closely with the students' families. The primary and first environment for the child's development is home, the school merely supports it. At school we endeavour to create a home-like and community-like environment where the members know each other and no one is anonymous.

This is the most perfect way - for the mother to speak to God and for God to speak to the children. If you do not communicate in this way, constant lecturing becomes a kind of intimidation. And when the child grows up it begins to rebel, that is, to take revenge, so to speak, on its father and mother who coerced it. One way is the perfect way - for the mother's and father's holiness and love in Christ to speak. The radiance of sanctity and not human effort makes for good children.

(Quoted from Wounded by Love. The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, 2005, p. 203)