“School leadership can often feel like living on an island. I have often found myself wondering if the problems I am trying to solve are universal or unique to my school. The experiences shared by the group leader, as well as other members, have helped me realize that the challenges I am experiencing are not unique to me. Furthermore, I now have a better idea of how to move forward on a number of different questions.”
Riley Gilmore
St. Stephen’s Academy, Lake Oswego, OR

Meet Your Cohort Leader​

Andrew Elizalde earned his B.A. at Depauw University where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude, earned a math major, physics minor, and religious studies minor, and received the H.E.H. Greenleaf award as the most outstanding 2001 graduate of the school’s mathematics program. He later obtained a teaching credential from California State University Long Beach with a professional-clear qualification for his coursework regarding exceptional children and technology integration. His teaching experience includes work in both public and private schools.

Over the past decade he has served as an Academic Dean to two flagship schools in our movement: Veritas School in Richmond, VA (2010 – 2014) and Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, TX (2014 – Present). His work in classical schools most notably includes reforming mathematics programs and building professional learning communities through meaningful professional development. Additionally, Andrew offers consulting services to classical Christian schools and has been a keynote speaker at SCL annual conferences.

Andrew and his wife Brooke have three daughters (5th, 7th, and 10th grade) attending CCS and are regularly attending members of Fort Worth Presbyterian Church. In Andrew’s spare time he enjoys backpacking, bluegrass, and books.
Andrew Elizalde
Academic Dean,
Covenant Classical School


Direct Access

When special needs/issues arise, direct access to a seasoned mentor in between monthly virtual meetings


Intimate group of a maximum of 12 participants to ensure relational depth and connection with colleagues from across the country.


Access to a “toolbox” via a shared folder of carefully curated tools, resources, and articles.


Social gatherings with cohorts at SCL regional and national gatherings.


This program is for anyone serving as an academic dean in a classical Christian school. The goal of this program is to understand our role and responsibilities in our respective schools, establish a common language to describe our tradition, equip ourselves with tools to make meaningful change in curriculum and instruction, and develop strategies for investing in faculty culture.


  • Presentation of a monthly key topic followed by facilitated discussion.
  • Open dialogue to discuss issues, challenges, and victories.
  • 1-3 hours of homework monthly (ex. assigned readings).
  • Resources, shared documents, and training material.
  • Access to Andrew Elizalde as your mentor as needed.
  • Time for fellowship to encourage one another in our good work.

Cohort Syllabus

While all faculty and staff of a classical Christian school should be able to clearly and succinctly answer the question, “What is classical Christian Education?”, the Academic Dean finds him/herself answering this question in various environments including: conversations with friends, prospective parents, and colleagues; or formal events like parent interviews or prospective parent nights. In addition to articulating the distinctives of a classical Christian education, the dean must also guard and interpret these distinctives in the context of curricular and instructional reform and the shaping of academic policies. In this module we will identify the essential elements of a classical Christian education and consider how these elements inform our real-time decision making and long-term projects.

Academic Deans often find themselves in one of the most inconsistently and ambiguously defined roles in our movement. Their specific responsibilities often change across seasons of institutional growth and their specific priorities can change year to year. Furthermore, lines of oversight and authority are not always clearly drawn across organizational charts, leaving deans navigating certain tensions with teachers, grade-level leaders, department chairs, and especially fellow administrators. In this module advice will be offered for navigating these tensions in a healthy way and participants will have opportunities to share lessons learned from their own personal experiences.

In this module we will survey tools for informally observing and formally evaluating teachers. A specific process and form for a complete evaluation process will be considered. This process will be directly connected to the school’s mission, vision, profile of a graduate, and master teacher profile. Participants will also have the opportunity to share their successes and failures attempting to make teacher evaluation a critical component of every teacher’s ongoing professional development. The challenging process of shepherding a struggling teacher through a non-renewal of contract will also be considered.

In this module we will consider the challenges of serving those students who struggle and those students who excel without compromising our commitments to a core curriculum and a distinctly classical and Christian learning experience. Best practices for launching or refining a robust student support system to serve students with learning differences will be considered as well as the real challenges that are faced when defining and implementing such systems.

In this module we will consider the Critical Friends Tuning Protocol as a mechanism for collaboratively refining lessons plans in the context of divisional and departmental meetings. A CFTP can be completed in a time of 40-60 minutes and includes the following elements: introduction, overview, clarifying questions, warm feedback, cool feedback, reflection, and closure.

Academic Deans are able to thrive when they are working in a smart, healthy, and hungry faculty culture. In this module we will consider informal and formal initiatives that deans can take to build and nurture such a culture. This will include modeling unto your colleagues a contagious commitment to life-long learning. Since deans can tend to take on more than they should, this module will also include principles and best practices for delegating projects and equipping current and future leaders accordingly.

The academic dean often plays an important role in assessing prospective students, whether it be new kindergarten students or mid-year transfers into higher grade levels. At the very least, a dynamic relationship between the dean and a director of admissions or divisional head is essential for making sure that admissions and placement decisions are made with the academic rigor and specific curriculum of each grade level in mind. In this module an overview of a complete admission, placement, and transition process will be described for a sampling of specific cases. Samples of admission documents will also be shared and discussed.

In this module we will consider best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining talented and good-fit teachers. The challenges and pitfalls that we all need to be aware of will also be named and discussed.

In this module components of a successful project will be described and supported by a corresponding project management worksheet. These components include: a meaningful project name, a concise description of the project, a designated project manager and assistant project manager, a list of team members and responsibilities, necessary resources, prediction of potential obstacles and challenges, timeline of actions, deliverables, named losses due to change, and criteria for measuring success. The importance of collaboration and the establishment of collective buy-in will also be emphasized.

In this module we will consider the process of vertical and horizontal curriculum mapping and the ongoing annual refinement of pace, scope, and sequence across subject areas K-12. Components of a successful textbook adoption and/or curriculum reform project will be described.

The possibility of burn-out is very real for academic deans who find themselves saying “yes” and “I can make that work” much too often. This module will include an opportunity to confess our own struggles to care for ourselves and establish personal boundaries that help us “keep first things first.” A survey of healthy habits will be offered as well as strategies for defining and keeping personal boundaries at work and at home.

Sometimes it can take as many as 2-3 years for a new teacher to learn and adjust to the academic policies, core curriculum, assessment practices, instructional norms, classroom management strategies, schedule, traditions, parent partnerships, communication expectations, organizational structure, etc. as they are particularly expressed at your school. This can be even more challenging for the new teacher who either lacks previous experience in a classical Christian school or is entering their first year of teaching all together. Nevertheless, in a time span as little as 2-3 weeks, you find yourself partially (or even solely) responsible for preparing teachers for their first day of class. In this module we will seek to identify and prioritize those elements that are essential to orienting new teachers and those elements that are better mapped across the academic year. Participants will also have an opportunity to share, compare, and learn from one another’s experiences onboarding new teachers.


Academic Dean Cohort

$ 2,200 Regular Price
  • SCL Member Schools receive 10% discount
  • Monthly Payment Options Available


In order to keep the group sizes small, and maximize effectiveness, we will take applications on a first-come, first-served basis. This application has no obligation. Once you apply, we will personally reach out to you to answer any questions after reviewing your application. If you are approved, you will be informed of the specific start date for your cohort, asked to sign a commitment to the cohort, and given a link to submit payment. Some individuals will be waitlisted until there are enough applicants to form a new group. We will keep you updated as to your application status.