The Key to School Improvement

Does the Christian school movement suffer from a lack of quality leadership?  The answer is YES.  The person in the position that is key to improving the Christian school movement is the Christian school principal.  

© 2009 Mrs. Gemstone. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#36).

© 2009 Mrs. Gemstone. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#36).

It is also true that any commitment to improving Christian schooling must involve those persons at levels above that of the local Christian school.  In most cases, that would involve a commitment by the leadership of a local church and the members of a board responsible for policy making concerning the Christian school.  But it is the Christian school principal that must lead and direct the activities of the local Christian school.  The local Christian school is the site where improvement must occur.

These are the realities.  It will be the best of times in the movement if we are willing to address current conditions and apply the Word of God and the findings of the best research about the schooling of children and about the key roles of adults in carrying out the ministry of a Christian school.  It will be the best of times if we reframe the role of the Christian school principal in a way that leadership is less hierarchical, meaning that all stakeholders are involved in planning the ministry of a local Christian school.

It will be the worst of times if the role of a local Christian school principal continues to be defined as that of a manager, with authority based upon position.  It will be the worst of times if we continue to be satisfied with current realities, especially assigning people to work in leadership roles who have little if any preparation for that role.

Why should we give renewed attention to the role of the Christian school principal?  Because the local school is the place where improvement will or will not occur.  That is where the pedal hits the metal.  That is where students learn or fail to learn.  The persons in the role of local school principal must be prepared to lead any effort to bring new life to the movement.

I conclude this:  the future of the Christian school movement depends upon what Christian school principals understand about the culture of the school that he/she leads and the plans made to address the needs of the students that are enrolled.

Let me pose a number of questions for you and offer a challenge for those reading this blog to respond in writing to the issues raised.

  1. Are the Christian school principals presently serving in the movement prepared to lead an effort to bring about significant school improvement?
  2. Do current preparation programs for principals give adequate attention to the spiritual and cultural nature of a local Christian school ministry and ways to bring about change within that cultural system?
  3. Can principals presently serving in local Christian schools be trained “on site” to lead cultural change in the Christian schools of this nation?
  4. What are the greatest challenges to bringing about significant improvement in the movement?

What are your thoughts?  

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Dr. Suiter taught in the School of Education at Marshall University. After leaving public education in 1980, Suiter has served in a variety of leadership roles within the Christian school movement both at state and national levels.