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Have our Boys been Forgotten?

In the new post-pandemic world, nothing looks quite the same. Arguably, the greatest shift in our culture is our common understanding and language around biological sex. What is a man? What is a woman? Does gender impact learning? Three questions that have become increasingly dangerous to answer. In the world of academia, they are landmines quietly waiting to devastate a tenured career. Given the climate where gender relativism and toxic masculinity are king, our young men are paying the highest price. Have our boys been forgotten?


The History of Teaching Boys

Presently, industrialized educational systems have become hostile to the modern-day male learner. Before today’s schools educated the masses of society, boys learned necessary skills from invested parental figures (Gurian & Stevens, 2007). In small tribal communities or vocational apprenticeships, boys were equipped to be productive members of society with an inherent utilitarian drive to their learning. Gurian and Stevens (2007) explain, “Boys learned what they needed to know by hunting with their relatives, managing a farm, fixing machinery, or devising a new invention for everyone in their tribe to use–boys now find themselves in boxlike rooms” (p. 21). Rather than seeing an immediate need for the skills they are learning, boys now spend thirteen years progressing through a curriculum that does not immediately pertain to the success of their future lives. Educating kids through reading, writing, and sitting in one’s seat has become the “acceptable standard” within our schools (Gurian and Stevens, 2007, p. 21). These “acceptable standards” of educating our youth have created devastating consequences for young adolescent males. Around the world, boys take part in educational experiences that fail to support how their brains acquire new information effectively. Simply stated, modern educators are not adequately trained to teach the male brain. In turn, schools are quick to reward compliant behavior over authentic academic growth. These two practices increasingly marginalize male learners year after year.

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Admissions in Times of Abundance…and Otherwise

Admissions in Times of Abundance…and Otherwise
Sarah Donovan, Senior Director of Advancement and Parent Relations

The First Academy, Orlando, Florida 

Enrollment. It rocks our independent school worlds. It’s the survival and sustainment of the school community, culture, and ultimately our calling to grow His Kingdom. And at the helm of this driving force: The Admissions process. 

Currently, Admissions teams are celebrating the fruits of an abundant enrollment season. Now more than ever, families are craving a strong, Christ-centered educational experience for their children and are willing to sacrifice for it. This, along with the movement of families from one state to the next, has equated to high demand and wait lists. Thus, this is the perfect moment in time to pause and reflect on the rise of the Admissions process:  What have we learned? and Where are we going in the future?



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Foundational Relationships: The Head of School and the Board

Introduction
Stable and predictable leadership is necessary for organizational growth1, because consistent leadership over time has been found to increase student achievement when the head of school serves for more than five years2. Despite studies indicating longevity is key, the average tenure for a head of school has remained steady at only six to seven years since first examined in the 1970s1. A school’s financial stability, morale, and progress toward educational improvements is impacted when the head of school leaves; therefore, factors leading to turnover are paramount to inform board practices in finding and retaining quality leaders3.

In multiple studies, heads indicated the main factor for leaving a school, outside of retirement, was a broken, tense relationship with the board of trustees4. This strained relationship affects multiple aspects of the school system, and negatively impacts student learning5. Studies indicate the board and head of school are mutually responsible for building and maintaining a healthy, cohesive relationship6 in order to produce a quality educational program for the students and faculty within the system.

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On Snowflakes

It seems fitting this week to be talking about snowflakes, doesn’t it? It is cold and snowy in many parts of the country where it shouldn’t be, which is why this concept came to my mind. If you don’t know me well, I am a scientist by training, and I love knowing the way the world works. To some, the detail I want to know is excessive, I suppose. But for me, snowflakes are one of these remarkably interesting things that when we come to understand them in detail, awe for the Creator follows.

Snowflakes are made of single or combined ice crystals that fall from clouds filled with water vapor. Water vapor sticks to very cold, microscopic particles of dirt, ash, or salt in a cloud. These particles attract more vapor and form droplets. The droplets freeze into ice crystals with six sides due to - get this - the uniquely strong INTERMOLECULAR FORCES… that is the way that water molecules interact with other water molecules.  In God’s perfect design, water is a unicorn among other molecules, one that literally makes life possible. I could teach an entire course on the beauty of water. Actually, I did once… and maybe I will again.

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Value-Based Strategy for Christian School

As we reflect on the past 15 months of schooling in a pandemic, it’s easy to recognize that our decision-making has had a markedly different cadence than in years past.  In some ways, we have been able to use the crisis to accelerate necessary change.  As one Head of School told me, “it would have taken 18 months, $150,000 in consulting fees, and I would have lost half of my faculty if I would have made these changes without the pressure of the pandemic”.  Christian schools have fared incredibly well in this regard. The laser focus on our missions, the high degree of trust that exists in our institutions, and the tenacity on the part of our administrators and faculty have allowed many of our schools to provide an exemplary education during these times, especially when compared to many of our competitors.

However, the intensity of the pandemic has also forced us to ask much, much more from our teachers and our staff; these godly men and women have delivered, working harder than they ever have, and doing so without the expectation of any increased compensation.  At the same time, we have asked our parents and students to be content with less.  Parents are unable to be in classrooms volunteering; the bleachers of our gymnasia and stadiums cannot be full of families supporting our student-athletes, and our arts performances have often been scaled down and the audiences streaming rather than standing room only.  It is that combination of asking more of our employees and delivering less to our families that is dangerous in the long term.

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Why We Come Together

Over the course of the past year, we have all learned a great deal about the value of collaboration. Christian schools have led the way in learning from one another to ensure our schools open safely and provide the best possible education to our students. What we have accomplished by the seemingly endless Zoom calls and webinars, by the corporate prayer with peers across the country, and the dedication to the families we serve was possible because we did it together. It was synergy. That synergy is what we have experienced, too, as we—along with many other Christian education leaders from across the world—have come together regularly over the past two years to envision an event that brings Christian schools worldwide together for a few days at Converge 2022.

We are both science aficionados, so a good technical definition is admittedly more exciting for us than for most; at the risk of boring you so early in this post, we wanted to bring you the definition of synergy: “The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”  There are some important aspects of for us to digest here.

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The Journey Toward Kingdom Diversity

The Journey Toward Kingdom Diversity

10 Steps to Moving Your Organization Forward

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HOS Evaluation Through the Lens of Strategic Plan...and More

HOS Evaluation Through the Lens of the Strategic Plan … and More

I still chuckle. Like most humor, the punch line is unexpected –and true. The cartoon, tucked in the inner pages of a national periodical, is a drawing of a Roman centurion in his chariot, robe unfurled behind him. The bumper sticker on the chariot reads, “Effluvia happens.”

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