Wind in the Sail

The location of the Christian Schools Canada conference spoke Psalm 19 language louder than words, and the words were plentiful. We were humbled by mountain majesty and challenged to reinvent and renew three generational visions from within our present institutions as we look at artifacts, arenas, rules, roles and records. We were given quadrants by which we could gauge our use of power, balancing authority with vulnerability and maintaining safety or floundering in poverty. Enjoy the pictures and the takeaways of some of the leaders who attended. (Ren Siebenga, Executive Director of OCSAA)

CSC Conference Highlights

A David Psalm

Psalm 19: 1-6, The Message

God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren’t heard,
their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome
for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

CSC Conference Takeaways

 

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“Andy’s thoughts on leadership, particularly in regards to the quadrant of image bearing where authority and vulnerability meet, provide a helpful framework for the reality of leadership as I experience it, and clearly describes the goals to which I am striving for in my own practice.”

Jason Schouten, Principal at St. Thomas Community Christian School

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“Andy reminded us that our job is difficult and also important, perhaps because they are difficult. Sitting on the razor’s edge where authority and vulnerability meet is not a comfortable place. It is important, however for the thriving of our institutions…Intensely relational and yet intensely bold to carry vision forward not into poverty (vulnerability devoid of authority) or idolatry (authority devoid of vulnerability) but into communities that bear God’s image.”

Kevin Huinink, Executive Director at NACE

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“My brain was put to work during my days in Banff, Alberta. From the beauty and awe of the snow-capped mountains to the engaging sessions centered around leadership, I returned home enriched and encouraged. One takeaway? That is easier said than done. There are many takeaways. Since one more “powerful” person than I gave me the assignment of only one, I will oblige.

The word “institution” has taken on new meaning and significance in my life. While I have long realized that institutions can be a place for good, I seldom gave them the credit they deserve. Andy Crouch astutely unpacked the nuances and significance of not only all institutions; he carved into my being the importance of our Christian schools in the landscape of following the command to educate the next generation in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

As a protector of the vulnerable, as a conveyor of gospel truth, and as a re-maker of culture; institutions play a significant role. I pray my institution will be cared for and caressed ultimately for the glory of God. I leave Alberta with that perspective as a filter for leading John
Knox Christian School in Oakville.”

George Petrusma, Principal at John Knox Christian School, Oakville

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“Christian Schools Canada 2016 was a worthwhile and fruitful experience. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains for almost three days, I was able to worship, network, learn, and share in ways that will help me flourish as a Christian school leader.
The pre-conference session, Deeper Learning, hosted by Justin Cook (OACS), Doug Monsma (PCCE) and Darren Spyksma (SCSBC) was a splendid starting point. Along with 70+ passionate and thoughtful educators, I spent time celebrating beautiful work brought to the event by its participants, making and deepening connections with them, and learning how to “steal like an artist” (search Austin Kleon on the internet).
Listening to six colleagues share ways they improved professional learning in their schools was inspirational. My key takeaway was to create a culture where staff members are committed to pushing the envelope of learning through the willingness to play with ideas, trying them with students, and iterating so that beautiful learning and work result.

My hope is that Deeper Learning sessions will be multiplied throughout Canada. I was humbled at how God uses educators to help students learn and produce the beautiful and meaningful work like what was shared at the session.

As for the main conference, Andy Crouch’s four sessions helped me understand the importance of institutions in our culture. He took the traditional framework of creation, fall, redemption, restoration reprising it to image bearing, idolatry & injustice, incarnation, and, surprisingly, institutions.
Andy posits that while we live in a time where institutions are collapsing, we must undestand that they are essential for restoration. Institutions allow idolatry & injustice to be addressed, excellence to be striven for (especially through vulnerability or meaningful risk-taking), the common good of humankind to be considered, and the most vulnerable in our society to be upheld, supported, and valued.

Besides Andy’s sessions, the conference workshops I attended provided me opportunities to learn more about the nature and implementation of deeper learning as well as how Christian schools and leaders might address and respond to questions of sexual orientation and gender identity faced by students.
In the middle of it all, however, is one point that has stuck with me; I think it will be my main takeaway from CSC Canada 2016. A few times, Andy challenged us to operate with a “three generation view” of our schools. Most often, we look at the immediate – what’s best for our students now. Sometimes, we look at what is best for the next generation, our children. What we need to strive for is to a longer view, creating ways that our institutions will benefit our grandchildren, the third generation. It will take wisdom, faith, and prayer. May God grant me what I need to lead with that perspective.”

William Groot, Principal at Toronto District Christian High School

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