Sherman Institute is a private association of instructors who seek to provide a broad, liberal arts curriculum based on the classical standard, and a theology program centered on scripture. Students can explore a variety of major and minor study disciplines, and will leave us with a moral and nationalist perspective, along with an advanced library containing a wealth of information generally forgotten in modern academia.
WHO IS ROGER SHERMAN?
For too long, Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) has been ignored by academia and America. When looking for a name for our new program, our Founders could find no better human figure to memorialize. Of all the great American statesmen, only one signed all four American governance founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. All bear his penmanship and more importantly, the great ideas of his mind.
As a leader for freedom in early America, Roger Sherman did perhaps greater works, albeit quietly and behind the scenes, than any other. Far more humble in approach than a John Hancock, outside the microscope of the Presidency and media of a man like Thomas Jefferson, and without the military conquests of a George Washington to launch his fame, Sherman steered the ship of America in subtle yet powerful ways. (This is a characteristic we look for in students, and try to teach by example. One need not have a bullhorn, or powerful weapons, to direct the course of a crowd.)
A man of impeccable moral fibre, Sherman put Creator and family on the first pedestal in his life. As a “common cobbler” (shoe maker) and farmer, his labors were earthy. With his financial wisdom, he became the trusted treasurer of Yale college’s money. As a man of biblical understanding, he unassumingly accepted a role teaching Theology. With his self-taught academic skills, he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree. Sitting for the exam, he then became a lawyer. His understanding of law made it only natural that he should be a judge, and the people of New Haven Connecticut made that happen. His love for people made it inevitable that he would serve in the state legislature, and eventually in the new Congress. He was even called on to instruct armies.
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, his absolute hatred of paper money, and his artful manner of dialog, brought about what we know now as Article 1, § 10; and other provisions relating to limits on the powers of Congress that have bewildered and thwarted many attempts to circumvent these constraints over the years. Sherman walked to the beat of a vastly different drummer than those who occupy modern Wall Street and Washington, D.C.
“Let us face reality. The framers have simply been too shrewd for us. They have outwitted us. They designed separated institutions that cannot be unified by mechanical linkages, frail bridges, tinkering. If we are to ‘turn the founders upside down’ — to put together what they put asunder — we must directly confront the Constitutional structure they erected … ”
And while lacking the general awareness of modern Americans of such books as “Common Sense” (Thomas Paine), or the Federalist Papers (Hamilton, Madison and Jay), Roger Sherman was also a renowned (in his time) author, with “A Caveat Against Injustice: An inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange.” Sherman explained, in particular detail, how evil paper money was in the colonies, and the economic consequences that sprang from it. Congress would today be wise to examine this writing, and to apply its concepts. Indeed the powers of Congress to “Coin money … and fix the standards of weights and measures …” (Article 1, § 8) were organized in a single sentence of the Constitution to bear out the interconnectivity of both Bible (Deuteronomy 25:14-15) and common sense in the powers of American Governance, thanks to Roger Sherman’s intuitive planning and writing skills.
The manners of this humble servant of Heaven, a list of accomplishments that is practically boundless, and the favor he had in the eyes of his peers, set Roger Sherman in a league all his own.
The Founders of the Sherman Institute seek only to set this man forward as an example to our students of how hard work, honorable actions, and calm demeanor in times of crisis, constitute a formula for success in a chaotic nation – even to this day. It is no small task to put upon ourselves, as leaders of the Sherman Institute, to follow in his footsteps.
As a note to our Theology students who might think this some form of man-centric idolatry, take heart. He can be an example to others, in much the same way as any of the Apostles or Reformers now have Seminaries named for their achievements. We do not think him a “saint” in any way. Those decisions are left to the Ultimate Judge of us all.
Founders, Deans & Instructors
David Schied, Founder
Web Design / Instructional Training Superintendent / Professor
Email: D.Schied[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- M.Ed. University of Michigan (Education with an Endorsement in Educational Technology)
- BA, University of Southern California (Film & Television Production, Cum Laude)
- BA, University of Southern California (East Asian Language and Culture-Japanese)
- + 40 units with post graduate teaching credential (special ed. K-12) – California State University, Northridge
Constitutional Reforms – Currently the Michigan State Coordinator working with Bob Schulz, the We The People Foundation, and GiveMeLiberty.org on the establishment of Constitutional Lobbies in each state.
Judicial Accountability – Currently working with Bill Windsor (www.lawlessamerica.com) an active member the GRIP (Government Reform and Integrity Platform) spotlighting a host of firsthand Evidence of criminal corruption by State and United States judges. Also working with Sherman Institute co-founder David Irons as an affiliate of Michigan’s newly formed “Judicial Accountability Task Force”.
Victims’ Rights – founding Advisory Board member of the “Coalition On Victims’ Equal Rights” (working alongside founder Doris Tate, mother of Manson-murder victim Sharon Tate 1985-1990)
Martial Arts – 2nd Degree black belt Tae Kwon Do; 2nd Degree black belt in Vietnam Kung Fu; 2nd Degree black belt in American Judo; 1st Degree black belt in Kodokan Judo
Film / Television / Multimedia Production – Former stuntman and 2nd assistant director in film and television series (Hollywood); and just recently (2011) published an interactive DVD of a “Martial Arts Self-Defense Training Workshop”)
Book Authorship – Wrote and published two books on home security and personal protection (“Streetwise: An Introduction to Self-Defense” in 1986; “Safe at Last! A Complete Manual on Home and Personal Security” in 1989)
Experience – (Most recent to least recent):
1) Public Access television producer (since 2009 – “Power Corrupts Again”);
2) State and Federal “plaintiff” with and without attorney representation on Constitutional rights and Civil Rights (“deprivation of rights under ‘color of law’”) issues; (2004 to present);
3) Public schoolteacher (K-12 special education in California and Michigan); (2000-2010);
4) Freelance film and television stuntman, 2nd assistant director, videographer, and editor; (1996-present);
5) Freelance film and television stuntman/actor; writer/producer/book author; victims’ rights advocate; gymnastics and martial arts teacher; movie studio security expert; (1982-1996)
David Schied was born in Montana and raised in Oklahoma and Texas. After high school, he followed his “American Dream” to be in Hollywood movies, to author two books, and to live in Japan. He graduated cum laude with two BA degrees from the University of Southern California. A lifetime learner, he holds seven black belts in three styles of martial arts. He is also has a long history of “fighting” for victims’ rights, civil rights, and Constitutional rights. He became a “founder” of The Sherman Institute while pursuing his “Master’s of Education” degree at the University of Michigan.
Aaron Bolinger, Founder
Instructor (Poli-Sci, Theology, General Studies), Curricula Development Team Member, Textbook Review Team Member, Library Coordinator, Server Administrator.
Email: A.Bolinger[at sign]shermaninstitute.orgAaron graduated H.S. in 1980, and entered the patriot movement in 1981, with a county chapter of the “Committee to Restore the Constitution.” He finished getting a degree in Criminal Justice/Political Science in 1983, and was hired as a legislative researcher & lobbyist by Liberty Lobby in Washington, D.C. in the mid 80′s.He advanced into federal as well as state subjects, spending much time in the Congressional Bill Office, deciphering lengthy federal legislation, and studied constitutional law under the tutelage of such scholars as Dr. Edwin Vieira, the late attorney Edward Ellison, and others. One of his principle activities was working in state capitols against the calls for a modern-day Constitutional Convention. Bolinger traveled to state houses in Vermont, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and Virginia, and indirectly in perhaps a dozen other states testifying at hearings on legislation in those states, preparing literature drops, and related activities.On leaving Liberty Lobby, he did “hired gun” research projects for groups like Gun Owners of America, and Dr. Edwin Vieira. He also wrote and self-published a book entitled “Downsizing Government ” in 1994. The book was updated in 2004 to include the new Department of Homeland Security and its tentacles. It critically analyzes every agency & department of the federal government for constitutional propriety, putting each through multipart acid tests of conformity, in parity with the United States Government Manual. He has been involved with many antiquarian document republications.Bolinger also worked as a sales representative for Encyclopedia Britannica for nearly a decade, earing a Master in Sales degree for efforts in both the scholastic and home sales arenas, along with focusing on studies involving the Great Books of the Western World.In 2005 he began restoring and updating the 1560 Geneva Bible, which is a work very much still in progress, although sections thereof have been published.At about the same time he relocated to South Carolina as part of the Christian Exodus political movement, and was recruited by Aaron Russo (creator of the “America: Freedom to Fascism” documentary) to help lead the in the state fights against the federal Real ID Act of 2005. By a vote of 109-0 in the state House, and 45-0 in the Senate, Bolinger helped motivate the SC legislature to reject Real ID. Aaron is still the Legislative Director of the “Restore the Republic” movement started by Aaron Russo.As part of that effort, some military veterans started a spin-off group (National Veterans Committee on Constitutional Affairs – www.nvcca.net ) and appointed Aaron to be their Legislative Director. The NVCCA has grown to be the “antithesis” to the federal ACIR [Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations], and ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council]. These two later groups draft model legislation aimed at state legislatures, many of which drive the states deeper into the federal “grant” web. The NVCCA, however, is drafting model legislation aimed at restoring constitutional governance to the states and counties without the interference of Washington, and absent the taking of federal monies, with Bolinger involved in the bill drafting projects, authoring Issue Briefs on political topics, etc.Bolinger brings to the Sherman Institute detailed, working knowledge of the local legislative process, along with bible translation and Theology insight.In addition to “Downsizing Government,” Bolinger has authored & self-published many other books, including “Would You Like Fries With Your Delusion?” (a look inside errors of denominational theology); several annual biblio-historical calendars; “State Investigations Into 9-11-01” (looking at the plenary authorities of the states to investigate the events observed on 9-11); “American Leadership Magazine” (an annual publication aimed at state legislators, containing model state and local legislative proposals and issue briefs in support thereof); “Federalist Economics” (a collection of monographs and model legislation aimed at restoring gold and silver coin to circulation); “The Sociotheosphere” (a textbook for a collegiate course on the subject of the historic mixing of politics and religion over the centuries), “American History and State Government” (another collegiate textbook for use in curricula in those related topics); and numerous other journalistic articles, monographs and like writings on diverse subjects.He has also been a speech writer for numerous people over the years, active in political campaign management, and generally somewhere on the periphery of a range of state-centered political subjects.
Videos featuring Bolinger and other constitutional teachers can be found on www.vimeo.com/discipleaaron, and in many S.I courses.
Dr. Karen Ruff, Dean of English, Dean of General Studies
Email: K.Ruff[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
Dr. Ruff is a resident of South Carolina, transplanted from New York and Pennsylvania . She has a Doctor of Arts Degree in English from the SUNY Albany . She has taught courses in Composition, Literature, Creative Writing, and Journalism on both the college and high school levels. She has also written courses in Journalism and American Indian Fiction. Her particular areas of literary expertise are British Literature, American Literature, and American Indian Fiction.
Dr. Ruff is active in current politics, participating in numerous tea party groups and in the SC GOP. She was a SC delegate to the Continental Congress 2009, an event sponsored by the We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education.
Dr. Ruff is extensively involved in curricula development for S.I., at both the individual course and program levels. She is also the point of contact for incoming Bachelor’s and Master’s Program candidates, who reviews academic transcripts and works with incoming students developing Personal Academic Plans. She will recommend remedial studies if needed, and reviews the incoming application, essays, and oversees all English and General Studies courses, regardless of instructor.
Outside of academia, Dr. Ruff has twice owned her own business, and is a freelance writer and editor. Most recently, having given up on any possibility of altering the compromised state of our public school system, she has been working in the insurance industry.
Pastor David Whitney, D.D. Dean of Theology, Instructor Theology, Poli-Sci, General Studies
Pastor David Whitney graduated from Rutgers University as a Henry Rutgers Honors Scholar with Honors in History. He received his Masters Degree from Denver Seminary. He has pastored churches in New Jersey, Colorado, Florida and Maryland for 32 years. He is currently the Pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church of Pasadena, Maryland.
In addition for twelve years he has been teaching the Christian heritage and history of our country with Institute on the Constitution where he serves as Senior Instructor, and Radio show host. His show can be heard on Dr. Stan Monteith’s Radio Liberty. He is currently teaching the only course offered anywhere on the Maryland State Constitution.
He has also been active in the pro-life cause and defending the family on the street as well as in the State Legislature. In 2006 he ran for State Delegate against the 3rd most powerful man in the Maryland State House. Though he did not win a seat, his message resonated with many as he called for a return to Constitutional government in the State of Maryland.
In addition David now serves as the Dean of Theology at Sherman Institute where he teaches courses in Theology as well as Political Science and Ethics.
All Contacts (In alphabetical order)
- Bolinger, Aaron Email: A.Bolinger[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Dlinn, Sarah (Student Registrar, Instructor of Hebrew language) E-mail: S.Dlinn[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Hannevig, Niki Email: N.Hannevig[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Irons, David (Founder)(Deceased, May 25, 2013)
- Jones, Robert (Instructor of theology and history courses) Email: R.Jones[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Ruff, Karen (Dean; Instructor of English courses) E-mail: K.Ruff[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Schied, David (Founder; Educational Technology; Instructor of professional development tutorials) Email:D.Schied[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Speidel, Scott (Instructor of Latin and Greek foreign languages) Email: S.Speidel[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
- Whitney, David (Dean of Theology, Instructor of History, Constitution, Theology courses) Email: D.Whitney[at sign]shermaninstitute.org
The Story of Sherman Institute
(By Aaron Bolinger)
Once upon a time, an e-mail came to the in-box. I suppose it was rather short and unimpressive otherwise. Just a guy I barely knew asking me if I could teach about things like “activism.” Well, he knew I was working with (Aaron) Russo’s group (Restore the Republic), and if nothing else having a bit of fun while teaching people how to work a state capitol. So here was his phone number, and an invitation to give him a call. That man was David C. Irons.
That phone call was the Genesis of Sherman Institute. He told me how over the years the crying need for real education was obvious. People couldn’t move a bill from the hopper to a Committee chairman in the average assembly. We had both seen that. Every time there was a “rule” in the way, the activists faltered while good bills died, and bad ones somehow got a gubernatorial signature. He and I talked for a long time.
Honestly, I think the battery died on the portable, and I had to switch to a land-line before we were finished. During that conversation, he mentioned another of his friends that had been discussing the same thing with him. “The problem is far deeper than merely understanding parliamentary procedure,” I proffered. “Modern colleges don’t even teach the proper state-federal relationship, much less any of the rules involved in working legislation from idea to enrollment.”
He promised to put me in touch with this other contact of his, another David, who was (at that time) working on his Master’s in Education.
Not long after, either he called me, or I called him. The details are a bit fuzzy at this point. But before I knew it I was sandwiched between two Davids on a conference call hashing out details of how to build an on-line university.
This second David was David Schied, who was then working on his Master’s degree in Education in Michigan. Mr. Schied started researching software that could deploy courses. Mr. Irons acquired the .com website and some server space for a site. We discovered that Moodle would be a better platform on which to deploy the actual academics, but recognized its limitations in other areas of web site aesthetics. So Mr. Schied acquired the .org URL for Moodle (with the help of one of my friends in the computer biz), and we loaded Joomla! onto the .com site.
With those two platforms up, we started building content for them, a tightly woven business plan, and developing curricula.
Mr. Irons had a vision for Graduate-level programs. I maintained that for what we were about to begin teaching, many would need foundational materials before hitting such a Master’s or higher program. We had a mutual rolodex contact in Jon Roland. He was a Great Books program graduate, and like me wanted to put some education back into lower-level undergraduate work. So we began talking, planning, and deploying what quickly became our Phase One focus: Undergraduate studies for Associate and Bachelors programs, centered on a Trivium/Quadrivium package, underpinned by the Great Books of the Western World.
When we rolled out an experimental course in 2011, four students enrolled for the test. One of them now sits as one of our Deans. Though this experimental course was set as a 200 level item, and though she (Niki) already had a Master’s, she saw the subject matter as challenging in the Historical as well as the theological aspects. From evaluations given by the students, we recognized immediately how ill-prepared many people would be for such courses without setting strong curricula in World History and others as prerequisites. Foundations definitely needed retrofitted with more detailed studies to prepare people for this level of advanced study.
From those humble beginnings, Sherman Institute started building a trust of curricula. We start with the knowledge that modern public schools, and even undergraduate programs at most colleges, would leave their students fundamentally flawed in American and World History; that the research capacities of students had never been developed, leaving gaps in their abilities in certain critical thinking and writing skill sets; and that few, if any, possessing average Associate or Bachelor’s degrees, would have taken the types of studies needed to prepare themselves for what Sherman Institute would be offering. Hence, a serious program of undergraduate level work was developed, and implemented.
Along that journey, and as I was putting out the word on Sherman Institute, I get an e-mail from Dr. Karen Ruff, inquiring as to whether someone with a Doctorate in English could be of help to Sherman Institute. “You’re kidding, right?” Of course we needed her. And aboard she came, helping develop those Trivium-founded courses with titles like Rhetoric, Dialectic, Sentence Analytics, and etc.
I continued shopping for talent, and found Robert Jones, a self-starting teacher of Sunday School curricula who happened to have a few courses already built and deployed on such subjects as the History of Protestant Denominations, the great war (1861-1865), and etc.
Students continued to find us, some of them taking single “enrichment” offers, others jumping into programs. But our first two years was a major collection of individual projects, ranging from learning new software (Moodle & Joomla!) to building curricula, to deploying it under a combination of technologies.
Then in May of 2013, something really shocking happened, collapsing a few rows of dominoes. David C. Irons, a pillar helping to gird a start-up venture like Sherman Institute, died suddenly of a heart attack. When I got the memo, I was in near shock. We–the whole of patriotdom–had lost a visionary. Not surprisingly the .com domain, and all it had with it were the first to fall. We learned a few hard lessons about computers, hosting companies, corporate politics, and perhaps our own mortality.
The loss of Mr. Irons was untimely in many ways. Of the most ironic was that we were just on the verge of releasing what he set out to establish: Graduate-level programs. I was literally a couple of days from calling him with the news of this deployment when the shock arrived. The Graduate programs were being slated for roll-out for the Fall semester, 2013.
In the aftermath, we decided to establish some new policies, including things that (as of this writing in Sept of 2013) are still coming together.
My version of this history is, of course, my perspective of the creation of our Institution. No doubt, as others add their journals to it, the picture of S.I overall will broaden. Each Dean, Instructor, and student, gives new life to it. Far more people are involved than my truncated dialog here would indicate. And none of the participants are any more or less worthy of note than others. (My apologies for not including all players who have had a role in this history.)
It is still a work very much in progress – a moving target of never including all we might hope for, but providing absolutely essential information to motivated students. Our mission statement has not changed one dot since first articulated with the help of our visionary founders and the peripheral players on the field:
- Sherman Institute is a private association of instructors who seek to provide a broad, liberal arts curriculum based on the classical standard, and a theology program centered on scripture. Students can explore a variety of major and minor study disciplines, and will leave us with a moral and nationalist perspective, along with an advanced library containing a wealth of information generally forgotten in modern academia.
That’s my story, and I stand by it.