The Association of Christian Schools International Blog
The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) seeks to strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators through professional development training, peer-to-peer networking, consultation from educational leaders, and many other products and services.
Three years ago I was appointed principal of Calvin Christian, a secondary Christian school of about 530 students in grades 6–12, one campus of a PreK–12 system in Grandville, Michigan. Calvin Christian has a rich history of graduating students with strong Christian character and also a history of students performing well on standardized tests. Upon my hire, the head of school and board explained that, with my background in curriculum and instruction, they hoped to bring about change at Calvin.
On the morning of August 2, 2017, on my way to my first consulting job, my flight had just landed in Chicago when my assistant called to tell me about an incident that had just happened at Minnehaha Academy’s Upper School, where I am principal. With just a hint of panic in her voice, she explained how she thought there was a small explosion, some broken windows, a little smoke, and some kind of a crack or hole in the building.
As the head of a Christian school, one of my top goals is to graduate leaders of competence and character who will be compelling examples for Christ in today’s turbulent world. To achieve this, we strive to impart academic and spiritual knowledge that sharpen students’ minds and instill curiosity. We discuss pressing community and world issues as students engage in practical service opportunities, cultivating their compassion and empathy. These are core ingredients of a Christ-centered education.
Over 45,000 Christian educators (yes, you read that right—45,000!) are on ACSI Community, an online platform for educators around the world to connect with each other. One of the things I appreciate about Community is the fact that discussions are centered around improvement.
I often think the most powerful, yet most underused, word in today’s modern parental vocabulary is “no.” With the summer months on the way—and with them, more unstructured time and freedom for most children—this word may become even more important for us as parents, and ultimately for our kids’ flourishing.
If you look at a great deal of what ails children and parents about living in modern culture, a lot of it can be traced to our failure or inability as parents to say “no.” (Warning: I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers here, but I don’t know how to make this vital point without it, so, sorry.) There’s either an actual or perceived rise of bullying in today’s preteen and teen culture, and certainly the rise of cyberbullying, a phenomenon that didn’t exist 20 years ago.
In the last five to ten years, there has been an increased emphasis on establishing expected student outcomes (ESOs) and using them throughout the school. Accreditation protocols at all levels require these student learning outcomes and colleges have used these as the basis for program and institutional effectiveness measures. Is this just a case of adopting some educational jargon, or is there an actual benefit behind this increased emphasis? In other words, are ESOs a help to schools in fulfilling their missions, or are they more educational hype?
As modern American culture strays ever further from its Judeo-Christian foundations, Christian schools sometimes find themselves unexpectedly thrust into the midst of conflict. Often, conflict manifests as a political issue—and politics, while always a pretty ugly arena, seems uglier than ever over the last decade or two. Education choice, though a popular issue, can be a catalyst for politicians to target religious schools for criticism.
Two years ago, an opponent of education choice savaged an ACSI member school in a House subcommittee hearing.
Stepping onto the college campus is truly unlike anything else. For your graduates, everything will be completely new and completely unknown. It will be incredibly exciting for them. But it can also be nerve-racking—especially when it comes to matters of faith. As your graduates look to their first fall semester on the college campus, they’ve probably already wrestled with questions like, What if a professor challenges my faith? What if I can’t find Christian community?
Over 45,000 Christian educators (yes, you read that right—45,000!) are on the ACSI Community, which is a platform for educators around the world to connect with each other, but in a way that is focused and beneficial. You will not find pictures of cats and dogs (as cute as they are!), nor will you see vacation news. Instead, the focus is on the betterment of the Christian education movement. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Here educators share concerns, ask questions, and collaborate with each other in a way that can get diluted by drama, politics, and differing worldviews on other platforms.
Doug Lemov’s practical book Teach Like a Champion significantly influenced the K–12 profession by assuring all novices that while excellent teaching is hard work, it is achievable—in part through implementing several strategic but often simple techniques. The phrase “teach like a champion” has been used both to encourage and challenge many beginning and even veteran educators to improve their practice. It reminds them of their ultimate goal in the classroom: to equip their students for college, careers, and civic engagement.