As OACS director of advancement Ray Hendriks reflects on the closing of the 2010-11 school year and looks towards challenges ahead, the word renewal comes up often.
During the organization’s AGM last November, executive director Hugo Marcus crafted much of his speech around a theme first introduced by the French socialist leader, Jean Jaurès, who said of the future that it’s important to “take from the altar of the past the flame, not the ashes.”
When Hendriks is asked what leads him to believe the flames are indeed being carried forward in Christian education, and not the ashes of the past, his answer is based on a renewed sense of co-operation among the OACS and individual school boards.
“The last 18 months has been about getting back involved directly with our boards; getting to know our board members and being able to deal in a very real way with the issues that the schools are facing,” says Hendriks.
“That’s something that we’ve long been known for, and we’re back engaged at that level.”
He goes on to say a renewed sense of the importance of understanding how faith works in Christian schooling today is redefining what quality education means, which has led to a resurgence of innovation as a guiding principle moving forward.
Hendriks sees this innovation unfolding in three ways.
“What we’re seeing is an increased emphasis on the individual learner, increased emphasis on the role of technology, and increased emphasis on the professional development of teachers,” he says.
Advancement in these areas goes alongside a “renewed sense of vigour for the school quality process,” he says, referring specifically to the success of the Progressive Assessment Framework for Secondary Schools (PAFSS) program in many OACS high schools.
Of all the qualities Hendriks sees, however, the work happening in co-operation with board leadership most excites him when considering the upcoming year.
“We struggle along with boards to redefine their governance model and its effect on the whole of the administrators,” says Hendriks, and the results have been positive.
“I think that we’ve hit on something that’s a huge need in our schools,” he says, when considering these developments.
“We’ve set a good path for ourselves, and for me the thing that I’m excited about is working with principals and working with school boards along that path.”