ISM’s Characteristics of Board Leadership

This is a presentation and discussion of ISM’s research project on board leadership; comparison and contrast of these outcomes with those of ISM’s research projects on Head of School Leadership.

Walker Buckalew

Executive Consultant, Independent School Management

In additon to his role as a consultant with ISM, a firm serving more than 4,000 school clients, Dr. Buckalew is also the author of eight non-fiction books and three Christian fiction books.

Curricular Planning From the Top Down

This session will address the need for curriculum planning to “begin with the end in view.” What outcomes do we want for our graduates? what knowledge, skills and virtues are essential for a graduate to reap the full benefits of the education that our mission claims to offer? We will explore a process that ensures that each grade level prepares students for the next level in a program that delivers these benefits to every student.

Robert Littlejohn

Dr. Littlejohn is Head of School at Trinity Academy of Raleigh, North Carolina. As a Ph.D Biologist, he has authored two college biology laboratory texts and has published 26 reports of original research in the fields of Ecology, Plant Physiology, Biochemistry and Science Educational Theory. In 2006, he coauthored Wisdom and Eloquence: a Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, published by Crossway Books, Chicago. His career spans 26 years in K-12 and higher education, during which he has served in a variety of teaching and administrative capacities, including Academic Vice President for a liberal arts college and Director for a consortium of ten colleges and universities. He was founding headmaster for New Covenant Schools in Virginia, founding executive director for the society for Classical Learning and a founding board member for the American School of Lyon, France. He is a certified facilitator for Appreciative Inquiry, an AQIP reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and a Consultant to Colleges and schools across the nation.

Liability for the Christian School Teacher

Every student represents an opportunity for ministry. Regrettably, every student also represents a potential lawsuit. How should teachers and schools protect themselves from this threat? Attend this session and learn practical solutions to address these major areas of liability.

John L. and John M. Cooley

John L. Cooley served as a Christian school administrator for 10 years prior to beginning his law career. Ind addition to his law degree, Mr. Cooley has earned an MRE in Christian education and a Ph.D. in church administration. He currently serves as President of WootenHart PLC in Roanoke, VA. John Mark Cooley is a partner at WootenHart and has been in practice there for over 10 years. Together they focus on representing faith-based programs, religious schools, and non-profits and have assisted schools with constitutional law, employment and contract issues, student discipline and expulsion, parent issues, organizational structure, and non-profit IRS filings.

Can Good Government Save Us?

I think the poet Catullus is noted first to have said, “The government that governs least, governs best.” Paine, Jefferson and Thoreau each followed with their own versions of the sentiment, though each also with their own intent. As a principle, I tend to agree, but in the current climate, I’m not sure anyone else does.

We do rely on our governments, though. In times of war or economic disaster, where else would we turn for protection or assurance? In the modern era, governments both reflect and shape the values of the governed. Even in an age of disenfranchised democracy, we hold up our own government as a symbol of who we are, what we really believe.

In this issue, several contributors discuss the importance of civic life and responsibility to our schools, our students, and the education we provide. By historical standards, citizens of modern liberal democracies possess a great deal of power to influence the people and mechanisms by which we are governed. The more knowledgeable, the more spiritually grounded, the be er equipped with relevant skills, the greater the influence our students might have in their lifetimes. And if they understand themselves to be both citizens of heaven and this world, their civic contributions will be means by which God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

In many ways, schools are no different than nations. When I look carefully at the schools which many admire for their commitment to educational mission, their confident Christian identity, their institutional prosperity, and their consistent impact on graduates, I find one consistent characteristic: good governance. A school improperly staffed or inadequately designed may not be rescued from failure and insolvency by an active board, but trustees who govern within a culture of goal-oriented planning provide good schools with the energy and resources to achieve their potential. A good board can’t save a bad school, but a good board can lead a good school to greatness.

Conversely, in his article for this edition of The Journal, Bill McGee describes the detrimental impact that a poorly functioning board can have on even the best schools. He also proposes steps that can be taken to help the boards of promising schools to improve their performance and the prospects of the schools they govern. This is timely, because the trend in Christian schools seems to be that their governance is getting worse, not better.

One indication is that the average tenure of heads of school has dramatically decreased over the past twenty years. According to one source, the average tenure of a head of school twenty years ago was eight years. Today, average tenures are less than half that. That’s half the time to envision, to nurture, to build. Half the time to bring families and students along in partnership with the school’s mission. Half the time to establish a faculty culture of loving expectation. Half the time to fulfill the expectations of families who have entrusted their most valuable possessions to our care.

The financial poverty that the current recession is exposing in many Christian schools is another indicator. One prominent Christian school leader recently told me that he expects as many as 20% of Christian schools in his association to fail— shut their doors, lay off their staff, sell off their desks and football pads—in the next two years. Not only is this tragic for the students and families left without a Christian schooling option, but it is a tragedy for our culture. As John Seel asserts in his article for this edition, Christian schools have never been needed more than today.

Can all of this be blamed on poor governance? Certainly not. There is plenty of blame to go around, from consumer demands to hide bound administration to teachers who just punch the clock. Still, it is also true that no group of stakeholders is more prominently positioned to either move a school forward or to hamper progress than its governors, the trustees of the school’s mission. It is a sacred trust, deserving the best effort, the best information, and the undivided a ention of every board and every board member.

Curriculum Development – Make it Classical

Curriculum is the backbone of the academic program. It is the defining character of our school’s identity. But, how can we be sure our curriculum is really “classical?” How can we know that we aren’t just teaching what every other school is teaching, with “classical” trappings? We need a curriculum development process that ensures that we are classical. In this seminar, Dr. Littlejohn helps participants identify essential objectives that can clearly inform our curriculum development and ensure that our program is truly classical.

Robert Littlejohn

Dr. Littlejohn is Head of School at Trinity Academy of Raleigh, North Carolina. As a Ph.D Biologist, he has authored two college biology laboratory texts and has published 26 reports of original research in the fields of Ecology, Plant Physiology, Biochemistry and Science Educational Theory. In 2006, he coauthored Wisdom and Eloquence: a Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, published by Crossway Books, Chicago. His career spans 26 years in K-12 and higher education, during which he has served in a variety of teaching and administrative capacities, including Academic Vice President for a liberal arts college and Director for a consortium of ten colleges and universities. He was founding headmaster for New Covenant Schools in Virginia, founding executive director for the society for Classical Learning and a founding board member for the American School of Lyon, France. He is a certified facilitator for Appreciative Inquiry, an AQIP reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and a Consultant to Colleges and schools across the nation.

Board Leadership

This session provides a breakdown of the published findings from the Independent School Management (ISM’s) 2007-2008 Board Leadership research projects.

Walker Buckalew

Executive Consultant, Independent School Management

In additon to his role as a consultant with ISM, a firm serviing more than 4,000 school cilents, Dr. Buckalew is also the author of eight non-fiction books and three Christian fiction books.

Student and Parent Legal Rights

Too often administrators, board members or directors of faith based education programs find themselves confronted with the question of what rights must the school afford students and parents. In this session we examine the legal basis for rights and analyze just what they are.

John L. and John M. Cooley

John L. Cooley served as a Christian school administrator for 10 years prior to beginning his law career. Ind addition to his law degree, Mr. Cooley has earned an MRE in Christian education and a Ph.D. in church administration. He currently serves as President of WootenHart PLC in Roanoke, VA. John Mark Cooley is a partner at WootenHart and has been in practice there for over 10 years. Together they focus on representing faith-based programs, religious schools, and non-profits and have assisted schools with constitutional law, employment and contract issues, student discipline and expulsion, parent issues, organizational structure, and non-profit IRS filings.

The M&M’s of Employment Law: Miscalculations, Misperceptions & Miscommunication

Over the years we have seen administrators and boards of faith-based programs commit the M&M’s of employment law. In this session we will discuss multiple legal mistakes and assumptions involving staff and how to avoid potential liability. 

John L. and John M. Cooley

John L. Cooley served as a Christian school administrator for 10 years prior to beginning his law career. Ind addition to his law degree, Mr. Cooley has earned an MRE in Christian education and a Ph.D. in church administration. He currently serves as President of WootenHart PLC in Roanoke, VA. John Mark Cooley is a partner at WootenHart and has been in practice there for over 10 years. Together they focus on representing faith-based programs, religious schools, and non-profits and have assisted schools with constitutional law, employment and contract issues, student discipline and expulsion, parent issues, organizational structure, and non-profit IRS filings.

The M&M’s of Employment Law

Over the years we have seen administrators and boards of faith-based programs commit the M&M’s of employment law. In this session we will discuss multiple legal mistakes and assumptions involving staff and how to avoid potential liability. 

John L. and John M. Cooley

John L. Cooley served as a Christian school administrator for 10 years prior to beginning his law career. Ind addition to his law degree, Mr. Cooley has earned an MRE in Christian education and a Ph.D. in church administration. He currently serves as President of WootenHart PLC in Roanoke, VA. John Mark Cooley is a partner at WootenHart and has been in practice there for over 10 years. Together they focus on representing faith-based programs, religious schools, and non-profits and have assisted schools with constitutional law, employment and contract issues, student discipline and expulsion, parent issues, organizational structure, and non-profit IRS filings.

Is Your Classroom Mission Driven?

Teachers are every school’s greatest asset, and mission is every school’s most important objective. But, few things are more difficult for teachers than faithfully representing our far-too-often ethereal mission statements in the every-day trenches of the classroom. In this seminar, Dr. Littlejohn leads participants through practical steps that will ensure teachers that every lesson, every project, every field trip is mission driven, so that we are sure to deliver to our students and families exactly what they believe they are getting… mission relevant teaching.

Robert Littlejohn

Dr. Littlejohn is Head of School at Trinity Academy of Raleigh, North Carolina. As a Ph.D Biologist, he has authored two college biology laboratory texts and has published 26 reports of original research in the fields of Ecology, Plant Physiology, Biochemistry and Science Educational Theory. In 2006, he coauthored Wisdom and Eloquence: a Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, published by Crossway Books, Chicago. His career spans 26 years in K-12 and higher education, during which he has served in a variety of teaching and administrative capacities, including Academic Vice President for a liberal arts college and Director for a consortium of ten colleges and universities. He was founding headmaster for New Covenant Schools in Virginia, founding executive director for the society for Classical Learning and a founding board member for the American School of Lyon, France. He is a certified facilitator for Appreciative Inquiry, an AQIP reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and a Consultant to Colleges and schools across the nation.