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.
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.
Approximately three years ago, during my journey towards a degree in educational leadership, I was encouraged to read, review, and dissect our school’s mission statement—not in an accusative way, but in a way that begged the question, How can we be better? And there embedded in our school’s mission statement were the following words: prepare servant leaders. From this came the inspiration to create a unique leadership program—goLEAD—that would develop and empower young people to lead today.
Research shows that outdoor education leads to positive impacts on school performance, student health, and the community. I have worked in California, Minnesota, and Colorado and have been able to realize the benefits for both students and staff in creating and growing an outdoor education experience at Christian schools. Regardless of where you live, you can start an outdoor education program at your school. First, you need to determine what outdoor opportunities exist in and near your community.
At the heart of Christian schools’ missions is ministry to children. Christian educators desire that students thrive and achieve their God-given potential, and become successful in their education as well as in their service to Christ. However, the growing mental health needs of students often pose a challenge to these missional goals. The American Psychological Association (APA 2017) estimates that “one out of every ten children or adolescents has a serious mental health problem, and another 10% have mild to moderate problems.” While data specific to Christian schools is not available, many school leaders and staff have noted an increase in mental health concerns among students. In my own work as a counselor in two different Christian schools, I have seen this increase myself—even just within the past five years.