We have already defined the characteristics of an excellent teacher and one might assume that a great school is simply a collection of great teachers. Nothing could be farther from the truth: many great teachers do NOT a great school make, and some great schools have few great teachers. So, what are the unique qualities all great schools share?
Schools may appear to be organizations, but they are in fact organisms – living, breathing, dynamic, growing relationships between teachers and students, among teachers, among students, and so forth. That being said, we can properly conclude that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, a great school is more than isolated great parts. What makes up the glue that transforms the parts into a great whole?
The first is an overarching MANDATE – a vision that fuels and directs the activity of administrators and teachers. For our school, it is simply “Equipping Tomorrow’s Christian Leaders”.
We believe in the depths of our soul that almost all the leaders of the church 20 years from now are sitting in Christian school classrooms and home school study areas today. For decades our churches, colleges, missionary force, and day schools have been aging and decreasing in size and number. If we fail to train our students to lead, the fundamentalist strain of Christianity will cease to matter very much.
So we teach them that there is no difference whatever in the value of God’s calling to churchplace vis-à-vis workplace ministry. We show them this principle in the Bible from the lives of Moses, Daniel, and many others. We model it by having church members in business and the professions speak in our chapels. We also invite school parents in the professions, and sometimes believers not connected organically with the school, to inspire the kids. When Christians exercise political influence, we have a much better chance of living quiet and peaceable lives.
Training the next generation of leaders
The next mayor of North Charleston has to go to high school somewhere. Why not this school? So does the governor, congressmen and senators, supreme court justices – listen, the president of the United States will go to high school somewhere. Why not my school? How literally awesome would it be to have dozens of men and women like Asa Hutchinson in Washington! The faculty must live and breathe this high expectation for every student, and the kids must embrace it. This is the first hallmark of a great school.