I had the privilege of attending the Educators Leadership Development Institute (ELDI) during the last week of July. ELDI is a week-long summer institute specifically designed to help teachers without administrative positions experience firsthand what it might mean to be a leader and/or administrator in a Christian School community.
Participants came from as far away as Belize, Southern California, Mexico, Florida and the mid-western states. The Canadian contingent arrived from two of our Islands—-PEI and Vancouver—-and then many places in between; Vancouver, Lacombe and all parts of Ontario. It became immediately evident that the diversity of the group of teachers present in the building was even greater than their geographical range, including age, school type, educational story, and reasons for attending.
As we gathered early for the first time Monday morning—early for this weary group of travelers—the room was filled with a sense of quiet anticipation…nervousness…as introductions were made and seats were claimed. Within the first couple of hours, however, the group began to mesh and become immersed into the week. They came alive with a roar of enthusiasm that continued from early morning devotions and breakfast until they retreated to their rooms for the night. The conversation—sometimes animated, other times quiet or serious and yet often punctuated with laughter—created an atmosphere that was enjoyable for everyone there, and certainly (using the language of the early chapters of Leviticus) an aroma that was pleasing to God.
While the lure of great weather, water and walks in the park were enticing, the group enthusiastically explored facets of leadership, inspired daily by the devotions of Jeff Walcott as he opened up new insights around leadership from Psalm 23. The themes of the week were unpackaged one day at a time—spiritual leadership, board leadership, staff leadership, instructional leadership, and vision leadership. Each participant arrived having done the strength-finders test and were excited to explore how their strengths compared with other prospective Christian school leaders.
As the week went on, the stories became more focused and the sharing deepened. As trust built, personal struggles with leadership emerged and we faced the more difficult questions:
- Am I equipped for this task of Christian school leadership?
- How does any one person do this?
- Who am I to lead people?
- How do I recognize God’s calling into this area?
- Where do I start when, next week, I actually begin the work?
Serious questions, heart, mind and soul questions, continued throughout the week in small group sessions, one to one talks, and late night chats with room-mates.
I have witnessed something quite remarkable this year; there has been administrative changeover in over 20% of the OACS member schools. Conversations with organizational leaders show that throughout North America, concerns about leadership are similar. This past year I have wondered often, sometimes silently, sometimes in conversation with other organizational leaders and most often in my conversations with God, about how we will fill the leadership positions that arise.
ELDI 2016 filled my soul with hope. God is raising up a new generation of leaders—leaders with passion for Christian education, leaders who are mature in faith and who understand the importance of Christian day schooling for the next generation of children. Praise God for once again providing for our every need.