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Schools challenged to embrace organizational change

Written on October 22nd, 2008

Advancement conference highlights benefits, examples of adapting with times

Christian schools were challenged recently to embrace organizational change in light of a changing culture.

Angela Kaptein, office administrator and chair of the marketing committee for Clinton and District Christian School says this was a key message she took away from the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) Advancement Conference held Oct. 15-16.

“A lot of Christian schools fall into the trap (of thinking) this is what we’ve always done,” says Kaptein, adding she is excited and energized to introduce some of the new ideas she heard at the conference within her own school.

“I always came back very excited from these conferences; they give you such a boost towards wanting to move your school forward,” she says.

For instance, she now has some practical ideas in mind for making connections with the larger community.

“One of the things that came through very strong was the fact that building your school begins with relationships,” says Kaptein.

“You do that not only with people that might have a reason to send their children to your school but also with other community groups and with the seniors in your area… . Just because we’re Christian schools and we should be showing in our communities that we don’t always just want something but we’re willing to give back as well.”

Dr. Dieter Kays of FaithLife Financial and an ordained pastor presented the keynote address at the conference, challenging the more than 150 participants to “recognize the important changes that force us to reconsider some of our basic practices.”

His presentation was followed by four workshops facilitated by school leaders who have embraced change at their schools.

Nancy Hessels, development director for Dunnville Christian School, says she took away some very practical ideas for change from the workshop offered by Janet Baird of St. Thomas Community Christian School.

“We want to apply some of the strategies that we learned from St. Thomas … some of the simple things we can do to build relationships in the community,” says Hessels.

She says she was also inspired by a presentation from Burlington Christian Academy which has implemented a number of elective programs in sports and the arts.

“That’s something our school would like to adopt in the future; it’s something we can work on,” says Hessels,.

She adds that she encourages any schools who have “gotten into a rut” to attend conferences like this one for fresh ideas and inspiration.

A significant change to this year’s conference was the inclusion of a breakout session immediately following the keynote address in which participants could gather in smaller groups to discuss what they had heard.

Ray Hendriks, OACS director of advancement, says participants seemed to find these sessions particularly useful.

“I think (they) liked the sessions because they could filter what they had heard and apply it to their school setting … It was an important factor in the development of thought throughout the day,” says Hendriks.