A Look Back and a Look Ahead 2017

Erik EllefsenThe CACE RoundtableLeave a Comment

As 2017 begins I took a look back at our blogs since we started CACE to see what resonated with the CACE network. I have highlighted a few of the more popular blogs below as they are worth another read as we begin 2017.

  1. A Letter to my Daughter on Her Graduation from High School:

This is a timeless piece that was the most read blog of 2016 and reflects a father’s desires for and wisdom to his daughter as she graduates from a Christian high school and prepares for a lifetime of following Jesus through college, in professional pursuits, in marriage, and as a member of the Church. The author shares:

I suspect you also know the main reason your mother and I decided to enroll you in Christian school in the first place: to give you the opportunity to gain a life-transforming grasp of God’s truth. When the body of Christ is ignorant about the Bible, it becomes feeble, and no Christian can grow up strong in the faith without a diet rich in Holy Scripture. We also wanted you to come to see all God’s world through the lens of God’s word, and to understand the relevance of Jesus Christ to every subject of study.

2.  Welcoming Disability in Christian Schools:

In this January 2016 blog from Elizabeth Dombrowski of the CLC Network, she exhorts Christian schools to continue to be open to students of all abilities and gives insights on how to be more inclusive as each school attempts to fulfill their organizations mission. She says:

Inclusive education succeeds with the desire to receive and unlock the gifts of every student in Christian schools. In practice, it means that we strive to integrate students with moderate to significant levels of ability within the academic and social framework of the school. We focus on ownership, in that each students’ primary classroom is their general education classroom, and friendship, that intentional community and social relationships are key to serving each student well.

Her exhortations are at the heart of every Christian school I’ve ever visited, but I am reminded that it is with this sort of passion that we seek to provide a learning community dedicated to each member’s inclusion and development. Look for future webinars with and blogs from Elizabeth.

3.  Getting Real about Differentiation

If you don’t follow Dave Mulder regularly you should. His personal blog iTeach and iLearn is one of the must reads of my own professional development. Likewise, following Dave on Twitter @d_mulder is a must, and my personal favorite is Dave’s blog series entitled “No More Crappy Homework.”

In this April 2014 CACE blog, Dave takes a deeper look at working to make differentiation a reality while maintaining high learning standards. Dave’s thesis in this blog is:

Here’s the catch: it’s incumbent upon us as educators to do everything we can to help our students meet the high standard. This will likely mean allowing different paths to reaching the standard, and providing ongoing, descriptive feedback to students as they are working to meet the standard that has been set: what is working, what is not working, what else they might try.

4.  Approaches to Christian Education

This April 2016 blog was a re-post of an article in “Pro Rege” by Dr. Derek Schuurman who is a Computer Scientist and Engineer. If you have not read this article I would highly suggest it as I missed it when it was originally posted this past spring. In it Dr. Schuurman gives an overview of understanding “faith and learning” and the differing attempts at leading Christian schools and colleges. Ultimately, he exhorts:

In order to maintain integrity and plausibility, a school that aims to be a Christian school must also be run in a way that is Christian. The administration, marketing, and finance departments must also be shaped by Christian thinking and practices. Furthermore, not only what we teach but the way we teach must be informed by Christian thinking.

As we move into 2017 CACE has committed to develop and promote Christian thinkers, educators, and leaders whose work can help us develop and innovate our own Christian schools. I’m excited that we will be hosting a series of webinars as well around some of the following themes.

Theme 1: Christian Schools and Education Policy

In 2016 we took a look at ESSA and its impact on private schools in particular, in the past I’ve written a series of blogs in regards to Ed Policy and Charter Schools, and CACE is committed to the development of Christian schools as a real educational option for more families and students. As we explore this theme join us for a webinar on January 19 @ 11am Eastern with Cardus’ Dr. Elizabeth Green as she shares the results of Cardus’ 2016 Education Survey and how they fit into a growing understanding of the efficacy of Christian schools in North America. Register here for the webinar.

2017 should be a fascinating year for education policy enthusiasts, so look for more analysis from CACE.

Theme 2: Christian Schools, Disability Services, and Educating All Students

Elizabeth Dombrowski has agreed to expand her thoughts on her popular 2016 blog, and she will be joined by CACE Fellow Dan Beerens. Together they will explore the opportunities Christian schools have to provide an elite education for all students and how to create a welcoming learning community that is committed to the development of each and every student. Look for a blog to be posted soon from Elizabeth and Dan, but join us for our first webinar on January 24 @ 1pm Eastern entitled “Welcoming Students of All Abilities at Your School (Part 1)”. Register here for the webinar.

Theme 3: Christian Schools and Diversity

We see the demographic trends that the United States and world alike are becoming more diverse, and we also notice how public schools in particular have become less diverse in the past decade. We are honored to welcome Justin Jones-Fosu who is from Baltimore and is a distinguished speaker on issues of business, ministry, leadership and diversity. He has agreed to lead us in a four part series on embracing diversity in his series entitled “Embracing Everyday Diversity: A non-offensive Approach to Togetherness” with the first webinar on February 7 @ 11am Eastern. Register here for the first of four webinars.

Our desire is to develop opportunities for Christian school leaders to think through their approach to diversity, integration, and community at their school.

Theme 4: Christian Schools and Strategies to fulfill the Mission

It seems like everyone wants “a model” for how to do Christian school and how to ensure student learning. There was a recent blog that gave an example of a “university model” school as a solution to issues of sustainability, and I have also written a blog about “The Digical School” which I think is a practical approach to embracing the opportunities of our technology enhanced world. With help from friends of the Christian school community I hope that CACE will be able to present to you differing strategies that allow schools to craft and implement dynamic solutions to grow and improve Christian schools locally, nationally, and globally.

Happy 2017!


  • Erik Ellefsen

    Erik Ellefsen is a CACE Senior Fellow and the Director of Networks and Improvement at the Baylor University’s Center for School Leadership. He also serves as Senior Fellow for Cardus, hosts Digital Education (a podcast providing engaging conversations with some of the most innovative education leaders), and is a leading collaborator and author of the Mindshift and Future Ready projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.