'I am, I ought, I can, I will.'––'I am, I ought, I can, I will'––these are the steps of that ladder of St. Augustine, whereby we
"rise on stepping stones
Of our dead selves to higher things."
'I am'––we have the power of knowing ourselves. "I ought'––we have within us a moral judge, to whom we feel ourselves subject, and who points out and requires of us our duty. 'I can'––we are conscious of power to do that which we perceive we ought to do. 'I will'––we determine to exercise that power with a volition which is in itself a step in the execution of that which we will.
Here is a beautiful and perfect chain, and the wonder is that, so exquisitely constituted as he is for right-doing, error should be even possible to man...Perhaps it is not too much to say, that ninety-nine out of a hundred lost lives lie at the door of parents who took no pains to deliver them from sloth, from sensual appetites, from willfulness, no pains to fortify them with the habits of a good life.
~Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, p. 330 (with added emphasis)
Wildwood Community School has adopted Charlotte Mason's motto in this order as it is first mentioned by Mason in this order. It is the same motto that is often seen as "I am, I can, I ought, I will."