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Pleasant Perseverance: MHA Freshman Anna Hayes thrives despite the odds

January 8, 2018 

Mason, OH – With doctors giving her only an 8 percent chance of survival, Anna Hayes’ life story is one of perseverance and God’s provision.

The Mars Hill Academy freshman was born prematurely at 25 weeks, weighing only 1 lb. 11 oz. She spent the first three months of her life in the Miami Valley Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Dayton.

“I wondered how we would plan for an infant funeral,” her father Justin Hayes recalled. “The doctors said if she survived, she would be blind and would never speak or walk. Every step of the way, we were told what she couldn’t do – run, ride a bike, read, swim. But Anna has pleasantly persevered.”

To the bewilderment of doctors, Anna not only has overcome the challenges of her premature birth, but she also has thrived. Mr. Hayes describes her unexpected accomplishments as an "exceptional provision of God's grace."

Anna came to MHA in Kindergarten. Although her family loved the school, they sought reassurance that the classical, Christian education provided by MHA was the right fit. Multiple assessments from various agencies over the years — even by area public school districts — repeatedly verified that there is no other academic structure more suited to meet her needs.

“They all contended the best place for her to maximize her abilities is here,” Mr. Hayes said. “Anna exhibits strong childlike faith in Jesus Christ, has a strong work ethic, loves school, and has flourished spiritually, socially, and cognitively in the MHA environment.”

Mr. Hayes said the teachers work to ensure Anna is supported and challenged academically. In fact, she has been named to the Headmaster’s List for academic achievement the past two years. Her schedule includes traditional classical classes like antiquities and protocol, as well as an independent study of missionaries and service as a front office aide two days a week.

"The staff at Mars Hill Academy has provided layer upon layer of support, encouragement, wisdom, and love for us that is overwhelming," said Mr. Hayes.

“Anna’s love for MHA and her servant’s heart is evident in her work,” said Admissions Director Patsy Hall. “She always is eager to help and is conscientious in her work. It is a true joy to have her in the front office.”

Anna’s duties range from making school hymnals and preparing mailings to updating school signs and helping the Advancement Team with printed materials for events.

“What I like best about Mars Hill is the Christian education and the teachers,” she said. “I like all my classes. I also like to come up to the office and help during my work periods if I don’t have too much school work.”

Anna, who recently earned her temporary driver’s license, enjoys reading, crafting, playing online games like Words with Friends, and exercising. She also works with the youth at her church and makes and donates hats for infants in the NICU.

Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati’s only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit

Photo: Mars Hill Academy freshman Anna Hayes works as an office aide. Born prematurely at just 25 weeks, she was given less than an 8 percent chance of survival. Today is she is a thriving teen.

Mars Hill Academy teacher is published author, has studied a dozen languages Q&A with Dr. Christopher Jero

December 14, 2017

Mason, OH – Mars Hill Academy teacher Dr. Christopher Jero is a published author. His most recent work, “Tense, Mood, and Aspect in the Biblical Hebrew Verbal System,” is part of a collection Where Shall Wisdom Be Found: A Grammatical Tribute to Professor Stephen A. Kaufman.

This book honors Dr. Kaufman, Professor Emeritus of Bible and Cognate Literature at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and co-founder of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project, for his contributions to the world of Semitic studies and for his influence on young scholars of Bible and ancient Near Eastern studies.

Dr. Jero also has written and lectured on the subject of interpreting biblical narrative. His desire is to serve the Church of Jesus Christ by assisting students to interpret Scripture and to recognize its clear call on the life of all people.

Dr. Jero recently was interviewed to find out more.

Q: What has been your educational journey?

A: I earned my B.M. in violin performance from the University of Northern Iowa, my M.A. in Old Testament from Columbia International University, and my Ph.D. in Hebrew and Cognate Languages from Hebrew Union College. I began teaching at MHA in the 2005-2006 school year.

This year, I teach seventh grade Old Testament, ninth grade Biblical Interpretation, ninth grade Advanced Latin, Greek I, II, and Hebrew I.

Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?

A: I decided to be­come a teacher, because I was encouraged that God gave me a gift to com­municate clearly. God also gave me a love and passion for the Word of God. I couldn’t not impart that love of the Word of God to others without exploding.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: I love most being able to share a love for what is truly good and beautiful with eager students.

Q: How do you hope your classes impact the lives of your students?

A: Any class I’m teaching, I’m teaching with a view toward reading Scripture. My first passion is Scripture. I want students to learn to look at Scripture freshly, as something speaking to them, and for them to be attuned to hear the voice of God.

Q: Just how many languages do you know?

A: That’s a difficult question, because when does one really know a language? I have studied various Akkadian Dialects (Assyrian, Babylonian), Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Ugaritic, French, German, Greek, Egyptian, Latin, and, of course, English.

Q: What is a favorite teaching memory?

A: My favorite moments are when students make a connection. For example, when Miss Esther Cunningham (MHA alumna and now MHA Latin teacher) was in seventh grade working through 1 Samuel, we got to chapter 8, and it suddenly clicked what the purpose of the Hannah narrative is. She just about popped out of her seat, as her eyes got big and her hand went up. It has happened many times – when a student sees it, when a student says, “That’s cool.”

Q: What is something most people may not know about you?

A: I am a three-time winner of the Graeter’s coloring contest in the 14+ category at our local store. Each year there is a theme for a coloring page, and I have tried to mimic classic art. This year was the Mona Lisa eating an ice cream cone. The other winners were Monet and Salvador Dali inspired.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: I enjoy reading, listening to music (opera is a favorite), keeping my language skills active, and spending time with my wife and four children.

Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati’s only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit

Fellowship fosters Rhetoric School connections New adopt-a-grade program helps students in grades 7-12

December 4, 2017

Mason, OH – Paintball parties, pumpkin carving, prayer groups, movie nights, and zip lining – these are just a few of the ways the new "Adopt-a-Grade" program at Mars Hill Academy has fostered fellowship for Rhetoric School students in grades 7-12 this school year.

Parent Teacher Fellowship leadership members Mrs. Gwen Tipton and Mrs. Angela Anderson helped execute Rhetoric School Principal Mark Cotterman's idea of parents adopting grades 7-12, similar to room parents in elementary grades. MHA is divided into two "schools" – the Grammar School for grades K-6 and the Rhetoric School for grades 7-12.

"As my daughter entered seventh grade, I noticed a difference in class-specific fellowship opportuni­ties in the Rhetoric School compared to Grammar School," said Mrs. Tipton. "As room parents, we were in constant communication with the teacher and other parents, and the Rhetoric School works differently. We thought it would be beneficial to give Rhetoric parents a way to be involved in creating community and supporting the Rhetoric students, so we helped create the 'Adopt-a-Grade' program."

Mars Hill Academy boys in eighth grade traveled to West Virginia to go white water rafting as part of a new adopt-a-grade program designed to build connections among the school's older students.

Mars Hill Academy girls in eighth grade went ziplining to build camaraderie as part of a new adopt-a-grade program for students in grades 7-12.

At the beginning of the school year, parents signed up in each grade to adopt the girls, boys, or entire class and work as a team to support the grade.

"We don't want this program to be intimidating for parents, so we let them decide what social activities they would like to organize or host," Mrs. Anderson explained. "We've had activities as extravagant as the eighth grade boys white water rafting trip and as simple as a get together for prayer and devotions. We appreciate how each parent has brought a unique perspective to the program, and I love to see their enthusiasm for the students as they get to know them outside of the classroom."

Mrs. Amy Kirk and Mrs. Abby Taylor, mothers with students in the Rhetoric School and teacher in the Grammar School, adopted the seniors and chose a more intimate approach. For example, they share lunch with the students two at a time.

"I have treasured getting to know these students as they open up their hearts to us and to each other," said Mrs. Taylor.

As the program grows, parents hope to find more ways to foster fellowship with the Rhetoric students.

"There aren't any slipper parties or reading groups in Rhetoric School, so parents are creative with activities older students enjoy," Mrs. Tipton concluded.

Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati's only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit

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