March 2021 CACE Newsletter
March 2021 CACE Newsletter
One year ago, our world shut down, and life significantly changed for us. I looked back at the March 2020 Newsletter to read our words of encouragement for you in those early days of the pandemic. In classic CACE fashion, we connected you with friends who were solving problems and serving the Christian school community with solutions.

As we catch a glimmer of life returning closer to normal, we hope that you’ll use the remainder of Lent to reflect on what God has done and is doing in our world. As you reflect, I offer two points of encouragement that have been confirmed for me over this past year.

First, our work matters deeply! We catch a glimpse of this impact through the CARDUS research summarized by David Hunt in his recent blogpost, Do Christian Schools Contribute to Political Polarization? In particular, he closes with this encouraging statement: “More than any other graduates, those from Protestant [high] schools show the greatest propensity to have an obligation to take action against wrong and injustice…”

Second, in the past year we’ve proven our leadership capacity. Throughout the pandemic, Christian schools have consistently sought and implemented solutions to learning problems, acknowledged the science while finding ways to open safely, and continued to provide unique learning opportunities for students. We often criticize ourselves for being slow to innovative, but in the last 12 months we proved to everyone and ourselves just the opposite.

Even so, I am struck by a question my friend Troy Stahl asked a group of us on Twitter: “I wonder if schools will have really changed anything when we start in the Fall of 2021.”

As you ponder Troy’s question and think ahead to the next school year, I encourage you to consider a few lessons from the past year, lessons that may cause us to resist a return to “normalcy.”

Lesson 1: Change was in our midst all along; the shutdown just pushed us faster.
Just before the pandemic hit, I wrote a blog called Innovation Reflections. Many of the referenced seeds of change had been planted pre-pandemic in Christian schools to help us flourish in this year and into the future. Participants in February’s virtual Christian Deeper Learning 4 conference were able to experience some of these innovations first-hand. Change can be good and can help us accomplish our mission better.

Lesson 2: The “digical” future is fully upon us.
Back in 2015, I wrote the blogpost Innovation and the Digical School. This past year we’ve watched schools use all kinds of tools for remote and hybrid learning. In response to Troy’s question above,  educators need to thoroughly reflect upon the current “emergency” use of technology and consider how the digital tools can enhance even our face-to-face learning community.

Lesson 3: We are discovering anew the difference between learning and doing.
The pandemic has prompted important conversations about the very nature of teaching and learning: the proper use of grades and how homework creates learning disparities; curriculum, pedagogy and Critical Race Theory; student choice compared to teacher expertise; outdoor education, project-based learning, and experiential learning; character development, worldview vs. faith formation programs; and so much more. This past year forced all of us to rethink why we do what we do. At CACE we have doubled-down on the great work of Teaching for Transformation and have added Coaching for Transformation

Lesson 4: We connected in this work with other colleagues, schools, and school sectors.
Christian school educators have become essential to the growth of professional networks that have solved problems throughout this pandemic. For the first time in their careers, many have discovered what it means to be truly integrated into a network. Being an embedded strand of a network keeps you from bouncing backward or relying on the status quo. Use your connections to spur yourself and others forward in our collective callings!

Erik Ellefsen
CACE Senior Fellow 
For our athletic programs, there is little evidence about who we are, what we do, why we do it, and for whom do we do it—questions that a school’s mission statement should answer. Helping schools tell the story of why high school sports are mission-centric is why CACE developed the Coaching for Transformation framework.

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If transformational leaders are to "get the big things right," we first need to determine what the big things are. Little Rock Christian Academy's president and head of school, Gary Arnold, shares his thoughts on what the big things are and how we can get them right.

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Sacred Spaces
by Steven Levy
One of the most powerful formational practices we have adopted in our school is that of the Sacred Space, a space dedicated to God and into which we invite the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is presented as a place to sit in, and respond to, the presence of God.

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