John-Baptist de la Salle, born of a wealthy French family in 1651, knew in his heart by the time he was just ten years of age that he would become a Catholic priest. Driven by this heart-felt belief, he was made a canon of Rheims cathedral eleven years before being ordained. Shortly thereafter, however, his motivation in life changed to one dedicated to the education of poor boys; he gave up everything for this new pursuit. He felt that he could greater serve this cause by teaching others how to teach these poor boys. By 1688, he started a free school in Paris for young poor men and founded colleges in Rheims and Saint-Denis dedicated to training instructors.
In an effort to reach as many of the poor as he could, John-Baptist de la Salle decided against teaching them in Latin. This was a revolutionary principle which was met with much opposition. Despite the vigorous efforts of those that opposed to the abandonment of Latin instruction, the success he and his teachers has was indisputable. John-Baptist de la Salle's teachers, the "Brethren of Christian Schools", exists to this day and continues to teach young men and women building upon the teaching philosophies that John-Baptist de la Salle developed.