Strengthening Christian Schools
Through Service, Community, Advocacy and Vision ◊
by Henry Contant, SCSBC Executive Director ◊
Try capturing in one sentence the purpose for the existence of your Christian school. It’s not easy! Yet, that’s what every organization’s mission statement ought to do.
This has been the challenge for our SCSBC community this past year as we embarked on a process of developing a new strategic plan. The process began by asking those important fundamental questions. What is the reason for the existence of the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia? What, ultimately, is our purpose? What is our stated mission and how does SCSBC achieve it?
Through member surveys, discussions at our annual general meeting, individual and school submissions, and many discussions at the SCSBC board and staff level, our community has tried to articulate SCSBC’s mission into one concise, clear, and complete statement. Simply put, the purpose for our existence as an organization is to strengthen our Christian schools. Ultimately we believe our schools should be stronger, more effective, and more faithful to God and their own mission because of their membership within SCSBC.
Strengthening Christian schools through service, community, advocacy, and vision
is the draft mission statement that has emerged thus far. Having served on staff at SCSBC for the past sixteen years, I fully understand and embrace the four key concepts that bring expression to the purpose and task of SCSBC.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV
Service is a key concept in the life of a Christian. SCSBC is called to serve our schools. We are called to serve, following the example of Jesus Christ whose life and actions were of unselfish service to others.
school boards, board chairs, committee members
superintendents, principals, vice-principals
coordinators, teachers, support staff
business managers, development directors, administrative assistants
… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Scripture calls us to live in community, a powerful image in a world that is becoming increasingly individualistic. SCSBC schools also live in community. This vision changes our perspective from “What’s in it for our school?” to “What’s in our school for the benefit of the greater Christian school community?” SCSBC is committed to being a catalyst that brings people together, so that we can learn from each other, support each other, encourage each other, share best practices with each other, and live in community together.
SCSBC is committed to bringing our Christian school community together. The staff team has countless touch points with board chairs, board and committee members, superintendents, principals, coordinators, teachers, support staff, business managers, development directors, secretaries and parents.
These come through regional principal meetings, regional board training sessions, superintendent’s round table, leadership conferences, early learning conferences, finance and development conferences, focus days for groups such as learning leaders, curriculum coordinators, special education/learning assistance coordinators, early learning staff, music teachers, librarians, Bible teachers, middle school teachers, workshops dealing with curriculum design, technology, distributed learning, financial management, charitable tax receipting, international education – just a few expressions of working and living in community.
This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right.”
SCSBC is called to be an advocate and seek justice for our schools. SCSBC does that politically through our joint efforts with FISA-BC as it seeks justice for the parental rights of parents for choice in education. SCSBC advocates for our rightful share of the federal and provincial tax dollars allocated towards education, and particularly for the rights of those with special needs and learning disabilities.
SCSBC advocates for our schools with the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Inspector of Independent Schools with respect to issues around school inspections, teacher certification, teacher discipline, and the right to uphold our religious freedoms and teach our curriculum from a distinct biblical perspective. It advocates for schools and parents with Canada Revenue Agency with regards to challenges to our right to issue charitable tax receipts for that portion of our education deemed “religious.”
SCSBC advocates for the rights of employers and employees, seeking justice through processes of facilitation, mediation, and arbitration. It seeks justice for parents through the Office of the SCSBC Ombudsperson. It provides many policies and templates for HR issues and legal contracts built on the principles of biblical justice, due diligence and procedural fairness.
SCSBC secures legal counsel on behalf of school boards in the shaping of policies, legal documents, and advice to schools.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18a KJV
The sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.
1 Chronicles 12:32 NKJV
SCSBC is also called to be visionary. We are called to be like the sons of Issachar, to understand the times our Christian schools are currently living in, and then know what our biblical response ought to be. SCSBC must be proactive, to see things and understand things that will affect our schools in the future.
Dr. Barrett Mosbacker put it this way, “The role of the leader is to do his or her best to peer over the horizon seeking to understand the trends and events that will affect our students, our families, and our schools so that we can position them to serve Christ effectively this century.”
SCSBC has a responsibility to safeguard the distinctives of Christian education, namely that it remains Christ-centered, student-oriented, teacher-guided, and community-connected.
SCSBC is visionary in that it continually asks the question, “How do schools remain biblically relevant in changing times?” Will Richardson stated, “If you are comfortable with education today, you are not paying attention.”1 What should SCSBC be paying attention to?
It’s been said that leaders don’t have to know all the answers, but they better be asking the right questions. SCSBC is helping schools consider many questions.
What should curriculum design look like for the 21st century learner?
What educational paradigm shifts are happening?
How do we articulate our Christian distinctives in new and fresh ways?
How does pedagogy shift from learning information to learning to learn?
How does a curriculum shift from one-size-fits-all to personalized learning?
How does instruction shift from “testing to assess” to “assessing to learn”?
How do we move students from classroom learning to lifelong learning?
How is globalization affecting education?
What is a biblical approach to the early learning years?
What does play-based learning mean?
How can technological tools enhance student learning?
What new governance structures will better serve our schools?
What best practices should school implement?
Anticipating future issues, what policies should our schools be adopting?
How will changing demographic trends affect our schools?
What should long term financial planning look like?
How do we keep Christian education affordable for future generations?
SCSBC strives to be visionary in keeping the above questions and the issues they represent in front of our school leaders. Through LINK newsletter articles, e-bulletins, presentations, reviews, workshops; conferences, sharing of best practices, research, professional development opportunities, connecting with other educational communities, staying in tuned with the BC Ministry of Education initiatives, and Christian education discussions provincially, nationally and internationally, SCSBC staff endeavor to be visionary.
Each school ought to consider the following questions:
Is your school fully utilizing the services that SCSBC provides to strengthen your school in achieving it’s mission?
Does your school understand its call to live in community? Does your school experience stronger community because of its membership in SCSBC?
Is SCSBC an effective advocate for justice for your school community?
Is SCSBC helping your school to be visionary and understand the times it lives in?
Strengthening Christian schools through service, community, advocacy and vision.
We trust SCSBC is living our mission. Keep challenging us to do so!