For me, just the opportunity to worship and learn together with this many people involved in common vocation is invaluable. Everything, starting with inspiring worship led by Momentum Choir, to the fun and profound leading of Sara Pot and Justin Cook in devotions, to our keynote speaker Dr. Rob Loe, reminded us of the “imperative of love”, a beautiful description of the work that we do each and every day.
I was struck by a number of things in this year’s gathering. The first was the frequent encouragement we received that our work in Christian education makes a difference. There is data that provides evidence that what we are doing in our schools is having a lasting impact on the students who graduate.
The second is the reminder that relationships matter. We all know this intuitively, but it was good to become familiar with an organization, Relational Schools, that has successfully developed tools to measure relational health and well-being in our schools. I appreciated the challenge to dig into the variety of relationships in our schools to evaluate how school structures, school routines, classroom practices, and leadership all influence relational strength in our schools.
While the format of the first day of our gathering this year was fairly consistent with previous conferences, (an outstanding keynote address accompanied by a range of workshops for teachers to choose), the second day was quite different. On Friday, we had the opportunity to dig a little deeper into a topic. In my case, it meant looking more closely work done by Dr. Loe through Relational Schools. We explored the data collected in seven Canadian Christian Schools and determine how it related to our specific setting.
Gathering together with this many teachers is a powerful expression of solidarity and commitment to a common purpose that we should not take too lightly. There is significant power in shared experience and shared learning that will not only change our individual schools but can transform the movement of Christian education. And when this movement is rooted in the Biblical imperative to love God and to love our neighbours, it is even more powerful.
Thank you to Justin Cook and the Edvance team for providing another inspiring gathering of growing and learning for those involved in Christian Education.
John Van Pelt is the Upper Grand Cohort Mentor and Principal at Woodland Christian High School in Breslau.