Shepherding a Successful Leadership Transition


Coaching Call Info

All school leaders, every one of them, will serve in their roles for a finite period of time. Is your school prepared for this reality? Do you have a plan in place that ensures a successful transition of your Head of School? Division Heads? McKinsey consultant Scott Keller reports that “studies show that two years after executive transitions, anywhere between 27 and 46 percent of them are regarded as failures or disappointments.” However, when transitions are well planned, not only can it go well, but there can be an increase in morale, execution, and even employee retention. Every school can take some simple and practical steps to prepare for the inevitable reality of leadership transitions and do so with wisdom. This coaching call explored these topics and addressed attendees’ questions about leadership transition.  

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About our Speaker

Eric Cook, President of SCL
Eric previous served as the Executive Director and Board Chair, Eric has been formally associated with SCL for over a decade, and he will soon transition full-time in his role as SCL President. Eric has served for 12 years as the Head of School at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, TX. Prior to Covenant, Eric served as the Head of Upper School at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, VA.

A Lexington, KY native, Eric earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University and a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. Eric worked in schools in Ohio and Virginia before joining Covenant in 2009. He has taught history, political science, psychology, and philosophy in public schools, and served as an assistant principal for several years.

In 2006, Eric felt called to join the classical Christian school movement and became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his leadership roles, Eric has taught apologetics, theology, philosophy of religion, and served as a thesis director. Eric and his wife, Liz, have six children. Eric enjoys reading a good book and playing a round of golf in his free time.


Covid Best Practices

There are still many challenges to overcome and issues to consider as we slowly climb our way out of the pandemic. In addition to reflecting on the lessons Covid has taught us from an educational perspective, several other social issues have emerged as well that need attention in our schools and communities. So, how should classical Christian educators respond? How do we wisely navigate these issues and stay faithful to our mission?

Join our panel of heads of school from across the country as they discuss and share wisdom and insight, plus the lessons they’ve learned over the past few months. Hear about what policies and practices worked and which ones didn’t.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is from Lexington, Kentucky, but worked in schools in Ohio and Virginia before joining Covenant Classical School in 2009. Eric earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University, and a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. He has taught history, political science, psychology and philosophy in public schools, and served as an assistant principal for several years. In 2006, Eric felt called to join the classical Christian school movement and became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his leadership roles, Eric taught apologetics, theology, philosophy of religion, and served as thesis director. He is also the President of the Society for Classical Learning.

Katharine Savage

Katharine Savage is the founder and Head of Philadelphia Classical School and is grateful to have worked alongside colleagues in the classical Christian school movement for almost ten years. She leads the ACCS Northeast regional cohort of schools and has written for the Classical Difference magazine. Prior to founding PCS, she was the energetic "starter" - starting other community based endeavors, leading parenting seminars, writing church curriculum, and being a wife and mom to three children. She and her husband Brian have been serving in the city of Philadelphia, PA for twenty years. She loves rereading old books and watching ballet performances.

Peter Hansen

Peter Hansen joined Trinity Christian Academy as its Head of School in July of 2020. Originally born and raised in California, Mr. Hansen moved to Texas in high school where he graduated from a classical Christian school and met his future wife, Lisa. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology and then went on to earn his Master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. Mr. Hansen has taught history, philosophy, apologetics, political science, logic, rhetoric, senior thesis, Bible, Latin, and literature in prominent classical Christian schools throughout the nation including Regents School of Austin, Rockbridge Academy, and Annapolis Christian Academy. He also served as the Head of School for Annapolis Christian Academy for twelve years and Lancaster County Christian School for two years prior to his tenure at TCA. Mr. Hansen is married to Lisa and they have four teenage children, three of whom attend TCA while his oldest attends the University of Kentucky. In his free time, Mr. Hansen enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, eating at good restaurants, visiting coffee shops, and staying active through golf, soccer, playing drums, snowboarding, and surfing.

Eric DeVries

Eric was born in Oklahoma, but spent most of his childhood in Spokane, Washington. He graduated from Whitworth University where he met his lovely wife, Jen. Eric and Jen have been happily married for 22 years. They have 5 children, spanning from a senior in high school down to a first grader! He began working at The River Academy in Wenatchee Washington in 2004 as a teacher. In 2008 he was promoted to Head of School where he continues to serve today. Eric is working on his Masters in Christian Leadership with a focus on Classical Schools from Gordon College. When he is not immersed in classical education, he and his family enjoy the outdoors. They love taking advantage of the hiking, mountain biking, and snow skiing that the Wenatchee Valley has to offer.

The Three Things a Board Must Do and the Three Things A Board Must Not Do This Year

The 2020-2021 school year has created a complex set of challenges for every school in the country. The circumstances have, no doubt, tested the strength and stability of school leadership. In this session, Eric Cook, President of SCL, will give each board three specific things they must do and three things they must not do to respond appropriately and persevere through the year.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is from Lexington, Kentucky, but worked in schools in Ohio and Virginia before joining Covenant Classical School in 2009. Eric earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University, and a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. He has taught history, political science, psychology and philosophy in public schools, and served as an assistant principal for several years. In 2006, Eric felt called to join the classical Christian school movement and became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his leadership roles, Eric taught apologetics, theology, philosophy of religion, and served as thesis director. He is also the President of the Society for Classical Learning.

What Every Board Must Do

A critical factor in a healthy school is a board understanding how to invest in its Head of School. Eric Cook will cover principles and practices of Head of School care to maximize his or her ability to perform in the Head of School role.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is from Lexington, Kentucky, but worked in schools in Ohio and Virginia before joining Covenant Classical School in 2009. Eric earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University, and a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. He has taught history, political science, psychology and philosophy in public schools, and served as an assistant principal for several years. In 2006, Eric felt called to join the classical Christian school movement and became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition to his leadership roles, Eric taught apologetics, theology, philosophy of religion, and served as thesis director.

Building a Classical School: A Panel on Design and Construction

Are you about to start a building project? Are you completing a master plan? These can be very daunting and challenging projects. In this session, Eric Cook, David Goodwin, and Rod Gilbert will share their experience from constructing buildings that reflect the principles of classical, Christian education and serve the students well. Each panelist will provide a description of their respective building processes, an overview of some of the principles that guided their projects, and then offer feedback to you in an open question and answer session.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is the Headmaster at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, Texas. He is from Lexington, Kentucky where he received his B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University. Eric taught history, civics, philosophy, and psychology for ve years in two di erent public schools. He received his M.A. in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University and served as an assistant principal at a large middle school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2006, Eric became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia before becoming Headmaster at Covenant in 2009. He has served on the SCL board for three years. Eric is married to his beautiful wife, Liz. They have six children: Haydon, Olivia, Grant, Cole, William, and Lincoln.

Establishing a Peace-Making Culture

How much time do you spend in conflict with others at school? Whether it is teachers and parents, students and students, administrators and teachers, board members and administrators, every type of relationship in your school community has or will experience pain, miscommunication, broken trust, and disappointment. What you do next speaks volumes about your school culture and your effectiveness as a Christian community. In this session, we will look at biblical principles of conflict resolution and how to translate those principles into healthy practices in your classroom, office, and board room.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is the Headmaster at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, Texas. He is from Lexington, Kentucky where he received his B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University. Eric taught history, civics, philosophy, and psychology for ve years in two different public schools. He received his M.A. in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University and served as an assistant principal at a large middle school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2006, Eric became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia before becoming Headmaster at Covenant in 2009. He has served on the SCL board for three years. Eric is married to his beautiful wife, Liz. They have six children: Haydon, Olivia, Grant, Cole, William, and Lincoln.

Word of Mouth Marketing

96% retention and 15% growth. Sound good? Come see how Covenant Classical School achieved these numbers through a carefully crafted word of mouth marketing campaign.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is the Headmaster at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, Texas. He holds an M.A. in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University and has been an educator for 13 years. Eric also serves on the board of the Society for Classical Learning.

Building Parent Partnerships That Last

Have you ever spoken to one of your families and realized they just don’t get it? Ever had five of those conversations in a week? When is the last time you invited a youth pastor to speak at chapel? Will you ever do it again? Many of our families and churches still do not seem to understand the vision of classical Christian education. It often makes our jobs difficult and frustrating. In this session, Eric will assess the challenges we face as classical Christian educators. He will also provide some practical strategies on how to partner with parents in a culture that is not very classical or Christian.

Eric Cook

Eric Cook is the Headmaster at Covenant Classical School in Fort Worth, Texas. He is from Lexington, Kentucky where he received his B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Transylvania University. Eric taught history, civics, philosophy, and psychology for ve years in two di erent public schools. He received his M.A. in Instructional Leadership from Northern Kentucky University and served as an assistant principal at a large middle school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2006, Eric became the Middle and Upper School Head at Faith Christian School in Roanoke, Virginia before becoming Headmaster at Covenant in 2009. He has served on the SCL board for three years. Eric is married to his beautiful wife, Liz. They have six children: Haydon, Olivia, Grant, Cole, William, and Lincoln.

The One, the Three, and the Many: God, Creation, and the Culture of Modernity

Colin Gunton, late professor of Christian Doctrine at King’s College in London, undertakes a monumental task in The One, the Three, and the Many. Gunton wrote the book to “illumine both the gospel and the modern condition, so that a continuing dialogue between them may take place.” In the introduction of his masterpiece he states, “I have hoped to contribute to modern thought and to what is now called the renaissance of Trinitarian theology in our times.” Gunton’s contribution has left a lasting mark on the implications of a truly Trinitarian understanding of reality. He traverses the arcane and mysterious with due humility, but also with imagination and wisdom. It is a demanding read, but well worth the sweat.

There are two parts to the book. In part one, “The Displacement of God”, Gunton analyzes the roots of modernity and the subsequent cultural crises, namely fragmentation and disengagement. He argues that modern culture (he includes postmodern culture) has bred an anthropology that views others as instruments. He says, “…we use
the other as an instrument, as the mere means for realizing our will, and not as in some way integral to our being.”

Christian theology did not provide a sufficient apologetic to combat this defective conception of man. In fact, Gunton argues that the proclivity towards a more monistic, hegemonic medieval theology laid the foundation for the Enlightenment revolution. Both extremes, a conception of man as independent and autonomous and a Gnostic conception of man, are equally awed. Gunton argues that much of modern social and political thought is a revolt of the many against the one. But, in revolting, man has been displaced, making himself god, where he was never intended to be.

Because he is displaced in his relation to God, he has consequently been displaced in his relation to creation and his fellow man.

What Gunton offers, in part two of the book, is an attempt at a Trinitarian metaphysic, one that accounts for a proper relationship between the created world and man, between man and God, and between man and man. He emphasizes that due signi cance be a ributed to the one and the many, which can be found only in the Trinity. Gunton seeks to formulate a “trinitarian sociality in the light of which we may understand something of who we are and what is the world in which we are set.” He argues that human beings must be understood relationally rather than in terms of fixed characteristics, such as reason or will. He says, “Individualism is a false creed, because it teaches that I do not need my neighbor in order to be myself.” According to Gunton, reality reflects the inherent relationship of the Trinity; everything “contributes to the being of everything else, enabling everything to be what it distinctively is.” Gunton calls Christians to a deeper understanding of the Trinitarian order of being and, more importantly, to reflect that order in our lives and in our world.

In a culture where pervasive theological and philosophical aberrations abound, Gunton’s approach grounds the reader in the most fundamental truths of Christianity. If there truly is a renaissance in the study of Trinitarian theology, then reading Colin Gunton is a must for thinking Christians and classical educators.