Total School Makeover

Is transforming the Christian school possible?  Is it inevitable?

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As we begin 2014, many are asking about the possibilities for Christian education in the coming year(s).  Has it reached its pinnacle?  Will it survive a free fall?  Can it make a comeback in our present economic environment?  Will it improve enough to capture the attention of value-driven seekers?

These and other questions loom on what many view as an ominous 2014 horizon.  Let me quickly say that the transformation of Christian education is entirely possible, but it is not inevitable.  Revitalizing the movement must begin with changing local schools.  Virtually any  Christian school can revitalize itself, but such a revitalization is not easy accomplished.  It is the product of the decisions and actions of those involved in the leadership of a school.

Any Christian school can engage in a transformation process by giving appropriate attention to at least two matters–

•  Recognize that the local Christian school is the center of all efforts to improve the academic and spiritual education of children.

It is time for the leadership in Christian schools to understand that the local Christian school is “where the rubber meets the road.”  Too long Christian educators have waited for someone “higher up” the educational chain to propose changes or improvements to the educational process.  The factory model of learning where bureaucratic systems funnel down change to the local school must be abandoned.

Local Christian school principals and teachers must assume their God-given responsibility.  It is understood that the factory model might make the job easier; however, increased responsibility for those in the local school also increases the reward.  Opportunities for more meaningful interaction, mutual support, and professional learning will abound when local school leaders and teachers assume their rightful responsibility.

Too long have local Christian schools operated in an environment where each leader and teacher operated in an isolationist mode.  Local school leaders and teachers must accept responsibility to grow professionally so that they can improve the quality of academic and spiritual instruction provided to the students that are entrusted to them.

•  Develop the capacity and ability of Christian school staff members to function as a professional learning community (PLC).  

A PLC is an organizational design that taps into the strengths, the skills, and the abilities of a school’s staff to design instructional and curricular systems that will meet the spiritual and academic needs of students.  A PLC promotes a shared mission, shared vision, and share values within the staff.

The school’s leader must become more than just a manager; school leaders must embrace a role as a capacity builder who provides faculty with training, resources, and opportunities needed to develop their professional abilities and function within the local learning community.

Shared vision, mission, and values will lead to a shared responsibility for the improvement of the school.  PLCs commit to continuous school improvement because it initiates a change in school culture and ultimately a systemic approach to improving the quality of education of children.

So, you want to see Christian education transformed?  Better, you want to see your school enjoy a “total school makeover? ” No doubt it will be a challenging endeavor.  But it can be done.  It begins by recognizing the important role of each Christian school and building the capacity of each school faculty to move a school forward.

Transformation of a Christian school–

Possible?  Absolutely!  Inevitable?  No way!

Have you ever been part of a “total school makeover?”  What was the key factor that made the transformation possible?  

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[Content in this post comes from the work of Edward Earwood and Phil Suiter in A Scent of Water.]

Edward is the founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. He also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.