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Guldemond integral to building national Christian school movement

Written on December 14th, 2009

‘It was certainly under his leadership that this organization was brought together’

Christian Schools Canada (CSC) was established 10 years ago as a national organization to bring together nine provincial-based offices across the country. Colleagues of retiring Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) executive director Adrian Guldemond say he was the driving force behind the initiative.

Executive director of the Prairie Association of Christian Schools Elco VanderGrift says upon joining the CSC board it was clear to him that Guldemond was crucial in its establishment.

“(He was) the passionate wheels and mind behind bringing together the Canadian regions for mutual benefit,” says VanderGrift. “I think it was certainly under his leadership that this organization was brought together.”

CSC members discussed whether the different organizations were duplicating one another’s services and what initiatives were being taken that could benefit others.

VanderGrift says CSC members benefit from having access to the Alliance’s resources

“It’s been a real pleasure to work with Adrian … I think he’s also extended a fair amount of Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools resources into a national form and the development of a number of resources,” says VanderGrift.

For example, the OACS developed a high school guidance program built specifically for Christian schools that was published in 2006 and distributed at that year’s CSC conference, he notes.

“Adrian is a very sharp man, I think he has an incredible way of looking at things and seeing things before they happen almost,” says VanderGrift, noting he especially anticipates legal challenges.

“That mind will be missed,” he says.

Henry Contant, executive director of the Society of Christian Schools in B.C., best knows Guldemond through the CSC board meetings.

Contant says the strengths Guldemond brought to the Alliance spilled into the rest of the CSC movement, such as an influence for producing Christian curriculum materials.

“That influence and some of those resources were used in other parts of Canada as well and he was the leadership that obviously wanted to make that happen,” says Contant.

Christian Schools International (CSI) president and CEO David Koetje has engaged in many conversations with Guldemond since Koetje joined the organization four years ago.

Koetje says it was through talking with Guldemond he developed a different appreciation for how support organziations support and add value to local Chrisitan schools, as well as how different geographies affect schools in North America.

“The new picture of beauty (emerging) is this kind of web of different partners working together to support the individual schools,” says Koetje, adding this includes CSI, CSC and OACS or could be a narrower subset of local Christian schools.

“The old question was always why do we need all of these groups they seem to be competing with each other … and the new question is not why do we, but how do we leverage the strengths of all of these interesting pieces of this new web together,” he adds.

Guldemond is on the CSI board and the agenda for the collective enterprise is different than years gone by, a move from competition to collaboration, notes Koetje.

“If I list the number of people that have helped me shape a new vision for this whole business about support organizations supporting schools I could probably count on one hand the men and women who have been the most influential shaping that vision, and Adrian is certainly on that hand,” says Koetje.

Guldemond is retiring this year after serving 30 years as the OACS executive director.