Building a Better School: Essays on Exemplary Christian School Leadership
Eds. Timothy P. Wiens and Kathryn L. Wiens

Christian schools are at a crossroads. The school choice movement has increasingly created the need for Christian schools to demonstrate their value proposition and distinctiveness. Building a Better School was written by Christian educators for Christian educators so that we may better understand our significance and build schools that demonstrate quality in our clearly articulated missions, through our governance structures, business practices, in our academic and co-curricular programs, and through our distinct sense of Christian community. While no two schools are or should be the same, Building a Better School reflects practices that will help your school as it seeks to impact your community and the world at large.

Originally published in 2012 and sold out, we have reprinted this text in response to new demands.

Contact Katie Wiens for a discount on orders over 25 books.

Forward: Phillip G. Ryken
Chapter 1: Christian Schooling: Essential and Beneficial, D. Bruce Lockerbie
Chapter 2: Christian School Distinctiveness and Why It Matters, Charles L. Glenn
Chapter 3: Understanding our Weaknesses, Charles T. Evans
Chapter 4: Determining the Significant: The Mission of the Christian School, Barry F. Giller
Chapter 5: Institutional Best Practice: Governance and Leadership in the Christian School, William D. McGee
Chapter 6: A Bowed Head and Humble Heart: The Head of School’s Pastor Role, John W. Ferguson
Chapter 7: Playing UP: Setting the Horizon of Expectation in the Christian School, John Seel
Chapter 8: 21st Century Learning and the Liberal Arts in the Christian School, Timothy P. Wiens
Chapter 9: Assessment in the Christian School: The Need for Data-Informed Decisions, Jonathan M. Eckert
Chapter 10: Beyond the Classroom: A Laboratory for Student Development and World-View Integration and Application, Barry E. Shealy
Chapter 11: Diversity in the Christian School, Donna M. Harris
Chapter 12: Preparing Fully Devoted Followers of Christ, Brian Simmons
Chapter 13: Beyond the Good Samaritan, Empowering Students to Integration Faith, Learning, and Service, Michael Y. Chen
Afterword: A Roadmap for the Future: Christian Schools Today and Tomorrow, Gary B. Arnol

Research Reports

2020 Principals Survey
Released January 2021

The purpose of the survey was to gauge CESA schools on several issues of principal preparation and pipeline within Christian education. We highlight some key findings in this research brief. It is our hope that the themes illuminated by the survey raise opportunities for self-reflection as school leaders consider how they can be more faithful in their pursuit of educational excellence and in their respective vocations.


Fall 2020 Opening Report
Released September 2020

The purpose of the Fall 2020 Opening Report was to better understand trends in enrollment, financial aid, and content delivery methods with respect to the 2020-21 school year.  With comparisons to NAIS trends,  an analysis of the trends and a discussion of potential impacts, this report can be used by leadership teams to understand the landscape and plan.


CESA Return to School Plans
Released July 11, 2020

The goal of this report was to analyze the plans of our schools with respect to instructional delivery and tuition models. While we all recognize that variables are changing minute-by-minute, and local context matters more than ever, this descriptive report has been compiled to give you the most recent plans of your cohort of like-minded Christian schools.



Episode 1: What is (and isn’t) Trauma?
Trauma is the new buzz word. It seems everyone has an opinion on what it is, who has experienced it, and what schools should do about it. In Episode One, learn about the nuances of acute, chronic, and complex trauma and why it’s important to know the difference – especially when it comes to creating a school community that’s safe for every child. You’ll also learn where COVID-19 and the recent experiences of racial unrest fall into these definitions. 


Episode 2: Trauma’s Effects on the Brain
Let’s break it down into language you don’t need a medical degree to understand. Learn complex trauma’s effect on the developing brain and some practical tools for unlocking “the trauma brain” for learning. 


Episode 3: Chronic Stress and Trauma’s Effects on Behavior
So much of what we’ve learned about behavioral management in a school setting (and at home, too) doesn’t work with kids who’ve experienced chronic stress. It doesn’t REALLY even work for kids in general. But, for kids with a history of chronic stress or trauma, those traditional methods of classroom management can actually be harmful! Learn the difference between “bad behavior” and “survival mechanisms” while also learning some practical tools of classroom management that work. 


Episode 4: Building a Trauma-Informed School
Trauma training isn’t just for your counseling staff or the administrator who handles discipline. Becoming a place of healing that unlocks learning for every student is a school-wide endeavor – administrators, faculty, staff, and parents. Creating a common language and common approach in caring for every student is key to your school being the best academic school it can be.