At the 2009 Kansas high school state track championship, an unusual thing happened. The team that won the girls 3,200-meter relay was disqualified. But what happened next was even more unusual.
A busy night for the school last night: JH track meet and Open Houses for Elementary and Secondary. I heard we did fairly well at the track meet, and initial reports are positive for what was accomplished at the Open Houses. As is fully expected, we have received some feedback indicating some concern/questions about what was shared, but there has also been many enthusiastic messages of encouragement. Since many families could not be there last night due to other activities, we have planned for some Superintendent Roundtables to cover the material and do some Q&A. These will be held May 1st and 3rd at 6:30pm in the High School lunch room. Anyone may attend these. We will also honor the re-enrollment fee discount if you attend one of these evenings.
Since I would like to visit with people in person, I will not cover all the details about the evening here yet. But even though it took 35 minutes for me to cover all the points, there is so much more that could have been said. We could have addressed the process for making the decisions in more detail. We could have shared more context as to why the decisions were made the way they were. We could have spent a lot more time celebrating what God has already done and is doing in our school. We could have discussed why some decisions have people on each end of an issue with strong debate points as to why we should go one direction or the other. However, I would like to spend a few words on a couple contextual points.
The first one centers around the idea of “business” vs “ministry”. I am especially sensitive to this issue knowing of the perception that my background makes it appear that my emphasis is on the business end of things. And I am unashamed to say that the business aspects of the ministry matter. But they only matter in that they enable us to be good stewards of the resources God provides in fulfilling our Mission and our aspirations for our students. I trust that this will become increasingly clear as you get to know me and as you see what is celebrated and emphasized around the school. As I said last night, God chooses to work through people to accomplish His purposes. That is my prayer everyday for myself and all of us who minister at Maranatha Christian Academy.
The other area concerns how we gather counsel and input to make decisions and then our willingness to learn as we go. These are very inter-related topics. First of all, I seek out as much counsel as I can before making a decision. I encourage all of our leaders to do so as well. We must balance efficiency and timeliness with gathering input, but to me, it is unwise to proceed without counsel. The Proverbs have much to say on this matter. However, sometimes all of the counsel does not resolve itself into one clear path or even a path at all. So, you pray, reflect and then you must act. Then after you implement something you learn as you go. More counsel comes in. You experience things, and you must have the humility to say that you need to change course or abandon plans. We plan, but God directs our steps. So I always welcome input and counsel. I often change course if the counsel lines up with all the considerations for the issue. But often one point of view is just that…one point of view. So I will not be able to satisfy that person’s, or even a group of people’s, perspective on the issue. But my point in this whole paragraph is to let you know we are committed to listening you. We are also committed to listening to our Lord and striving to do our best for His ministry.
The accreditation team has come and gone. I believe that the school hosted them extremely well thanks to the extra efforts done by parents, leaders, teachers, staff and students. Bottom line: they were very complimentary in their report. The next step is for them to take their report back to the ACSI Commission for review and decision as to accreditation status. That will happen at the beginning of June.
Please know that your teachers, staff and leadership worked diligently to provide the right documentation in a manner that was highly praised by the visiting team. Statements like, “That was done the best we have ever seen” and “your detail and writing technique was outstanding compared to other schools visited” were common in all of the sessions that I sat in. Each session where they brought questions also involved several minutes of commendations for the work and how we do our work. A highlight was when they were visiting with some of our teachers about biblical worldview and Christian character programs. They said our teachers not only bought into teaching the program, but they had made modeling these views and traits integral to who they are. In these two areas, which are the most important to our school, we received an Exceeding Standards commendation and no recommendations for improvement.
I would like to express my appreciation to Ms. Puett, Dr. Daugherty, Mr. Beck, Mrs. Burch and Mrs. Daugherty for their leadership in getting the school to this point in the process in such a magnificent manner. A huge thanks to all of the teachers as they were richly involved in the documentation, the visit and other preparations. The students were fantastic in how they presented the school and engaged with the visiting team. I also want to thank those parents who helped prepare for the visit and gave their time to visit with the accreditation team.
The visiting team was made up of heads of schools, curriculum instructor, preschool director and principals. They were generous in their praise and encouragement. They even said they would be taking ideas from our school to consider inputting into their schools. We truly do have a rich legacy and a wonderful school. Praise God for His blessings and for working through so many talented individuals to bring us to this point.
Maranatha Academy will position the school to attract, retain, and equip high-quality faculty, staff and administration.
This is a critical initiative for Maranatha. We are not starting a new work or focus on this, but committing to continue the effort and to raise the bar. We have a wonderful faculty and staff that have made a difference in hundreds of lives. We have been blessed with many staff and faculty who have remained committed to Maranatha and to a high level of teaching impact. However, at some point we will need to bring in new teachers due to moves, retirement, etc. We will need to move some people to new positions where they can best use the talents God has given them. We will need to challenge people to look for new ways to be more effective. To me, much of this is led by having a team of individuals who challenge themselves to excel, and by a leadership team that coaches that development.
My commitment, and the commitment of the leadership team, is to provide the right atmosphere, expectations and incentives so that all staff and faculty deliver a distinctive Maranatha education experience. We should be distinctive in our commitment to teaching a biblical worldview, developing Christian character and pursuing academic excellence. So some things on the docket:
- Making a commitment to raise compensation and benefits to more competitive levels as Maranatha grows
- Consistently set standards and expectations, then coach and discuss success and struggles to achieve desired outcomes
- Provide additional personnel to specialize in key areas of need (e.g. a Learning Center instructor to help those with learning challenges)
- Shift personnel to place focus on key areas of focus across the Strategic Initiatives such as Curriculum and Instruction Director or administrative support for Sports and Facilities
- Anticipate key leadership changes (i.e. retirement) and move in advance to make transitions smooth
Obviously finances play a significant part in executing much of this plan. Please pray that God will provide the finances through increased enrollment and by sparking the hearts of those capable to give. Also, please pray for our faculty and staff as we shift, adjust and continue on this journey of pursuing excellence in whatever form that takes for each individual and across the school.
Last Thursday, I had the privilege of joining the Junior Class in the Vision/Leadership Retreat. This day could be a pivotal day in the life of this class. God used a friend of mine who worked with me in the corporate world to help the Juniors unify around a common vision of what they wanted their senior year to be like. My friend, Dave McCalley, is a godly man who has reached high positions in corporate world, and I have worked alongside him in creating visions for the company. As he guided the young people through their self-examination and got them to think about the future, the kids really responded. Some kids stepped forward and really challenged the class to move away from talking about how they would like people to see them, to take action so that those perceptions changed. The whole class was unified in heartfelt desire to accept the mantle of leading the school.
I am excited that this will be the first senior class as I take on the mantle passed on from Dr. Daugherty. If they carry out their vision, Maranatha will never be the same. I hope they don’t mind me sharing it with you. I am delighted with its focus. Will you join me in praying for them as they develop an action plan to carry out this wonderful vision?
We will become a family and be successful by
Receiving the leadership role,
Running passionately with faith and
Passing on a legacy.
We will do this by stepping out of our comfort zone and starting a fire for God for years to come.