For a Christian school to be excellent, it must have balance in its several components. As an entity formed for the glory of God, it displays His glory inasmuch as it reflects His attributes. Scripture reveals God to be a Person of goodness, beauty, order, process, and relationship (among many other excellencies). So while a Christian school must have as its focus relationship and then knowledge, there must also be balance between three primary components.
Component 1: Culture
There must be balance between spiritual and academic pursuits. This balance must be established upon the focus of relationship. There must be recognition of the need to advance knowledge without forsaking relationship, and to build relationship without neglecting the realm of knowledge. The atmosphere or ‘soul’ of the school reflects its culture. Balance in the culture component will be identified by the focus of the head of school and the attitudes and actions of the faculty. These in turn are reflective of the mandates established by the board of directors. Board mandates are reflective of the foundational balance of knowledge versus relationship; in other words, the philosophy upon which the board operates. Philosophy drives principles, and principles direct methods. The unobserved decision of the balance between knowledge and relationship adopted by the board will always be revealed in the priorities exhibited by school employees. This is true whether a school is operated under the philosophy of principle or pragmatism.
The lowest common denominator in school culture would be revealed by each day’s schedule. Does the day have time set aside for a spiritual focus for everyone involved with the school? Is this a meaningful time or just another exercise so that one can say it was done? Are the academic lessons well–planned so that students are not overloaded and stressed with needless busywork? Is there mental substance to the classes? Is there a reasonable homework load, given with an understanding that students need relationship time with families in the evenings? Are these areas consistently evaluated by the board, head of school, and teachers? If not, then the principle of relationship will be sacrificed to the tyrant of knowledge. (For a more comprehensive handling of the two, please see additional article in this section on relationship versus knowledge.)
Component 2: Extracurricular Activities
The activities offered by a school must balance the need that students have for self-improvement with the need to teach self-denial. This component may best be measured by observing students and their extra-curricular choices. However, the culture of the school will determine what choices are offered. An excellent school will offer athletics and the arts (in the measure that the size of the school allows) with community service and missions work. A basic requirement would be that each student must be involved in one community service or missions project each year. A large sports and arts offering with minimal community service or missions work reveals that the school does not have a relationship focus.
Component 3: Finances
The final component is a balance between fiscal responsibility and the exercise of faith. As with component two, the degree of balance in this component is predicated on the culture of the school and its board. By prioritizing the spiritual dimension of corporate prayer and a seeking of God’s will, a board may find God intends to bless the school with capital projects and significant maturity. Sometimes this involves capital debt, which can be entered into with the assurance that God will provide. This is the exercise of faith. By neglecting the spiritual dimension of prayer and a seeking of God’s will, boards may find that capital debt becomes stagnant and a drain on the school’s finances. Operating in such a manner is financially irresponsible, not to mention presumptive on God’s grace. With this same emphasis on corporate prayer and a seeking of God’s will, a board may find that God intends to keep the school of a small or moderate size, while also meeting all its financial needs. Regardless of the size of the school, the cornerstone for fiscal responsibility remains the operational budget. Prudent and sound planning in operations provides the means to build for the future.
Whether a Christian school is classical, traditional, or modern, HistorConsulting can help enhance its success by providing feedback, analysis, and recommendations on each of these components. From scope and sequence to Scripture and singing; from theatrics and music to missions at home or abroad; from fund raising to funds disbursements, HistorConsulting will work with individual schools to plan for and achieve overall excellence.
Keeping Christ in the Conversation
©2008 Cheryl Nester. All Rights Reserved.