The Center for the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE) is a vision of the Sid & Carol Verdoorn Foundation, Dordt University, and Christian school thought leaders from around the world. Our reason for being is to walk alongside Christian schools who are committed to teaching from a Biblical perspective. We exist for the sustainability, improvement, innovation, advocacy, and promotion of Christian education at all levels of learning.
Among the rural villages of central Africa, there is a proverb that states, “You can go faster alone but farther together.” CACE believes that this piece of wisdom is critical for Christian education to flourish throughout the world. Just as the African villagers picked up new wisdom and innovative ideas as they traveled through the region, Christian educators can do the same. CACE is dedicated to facilitating this process of sharing best practices in Christian education – collaborating with Christian school thought leaders, innovative practitioners, and Christian education supporters of all shapes and sizes to promote, innovate, advocate, improve, and sustain Christian education at all levels.
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting DB Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International.
Chad Dirkse has served in Christian education for 25 years in roles that include, math and science teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, head of school and board member. He is currently the President of Chattanooga Christian School where he serves more 1,100 students and 130 faculty and staff.
Erik Ellefsen has served in education for seventeen years as a teacher, coach, consultant, Grievance Chairman for the American Federation of Teachers, Dean of Academics at Boston Trinity Academy, and as Principal at Chicago Christian High School.
Steven Levy is an educational consultant, working independently and with EL Education. After 28 years teaching in classrooms K-12, he now guides teachers in designing service-based curriculum, engaging instructional practices, student owned assessments, and character development.
Paul T. Neal is Sr. Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment at Cairn University and co-founder of Charter Oak Research where he serves as Principal and Chief Research Officer.
David Urban is co-founder of Charter Oak Research and its Chief Operating Officer. David also leads Charter Oak’s educational practice. Previously he served as Chief Advancement Officer at Charlotte Christian School, Vice President of Client Service at Olson Research Group, and Vice President of Enrollment at Eastern University.
Who We Are
Dr. Tim Van Soelen
Tim Van Soelen serves as the executive director of CACE and personifies CACE’s passion for developing school leaders, networking faith-based schools and sharing innovative educational practices. Prior to starting CACE, Tim served as a math teacher and assistant administrator at Redlands Christian School and as the head of school at Calvin Christian School. Tim also holds faculty status at Dordt University where he has served as the department chair of the graduate and undergraduate education program, teaching courses in school leadership, philosophy of education, and educational psychology. Tim has served on numerous local and national boards, including the Council for American Private Education, the Iowa Association of Christian Schools, and Unity Christian High School. His wife, Jill, is an instructional coach at Sioux Center Christian and they have three children. Matthew is a middle school socials studies teacher, Madison is an occupational therapist, and Mikaela is a communications director. Tim earned his B.A. at Dordt University and advanced degrees from Azusa Pacific University and the University of South Dakota.
Paul T. Neal
Director of operations, Senior Fellow
Paul T. Neal serves as the Director of Operations at CACE. Paul brings years of experience in marketing research and enrollment management expertise to the team. Paul has presented and been published on the use of normative data in analysis, respondent motives, trends in education and online communities, and respondent quality. Paul joined the team after serving as Senior Vice President for Advancement and Communications at Cairn University. Prior to founding research firm Charter Oak Research (now part of CACE), Paul was a Principal at Olson Research Group for 15 years as well as serving as the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University responsible for qualitative research on political culture and U.S. Public Policy. Paul has served as an adjunct faculty member at several Philadelphia area universities. Paul is a graduate of Eastern (B.A.) and Villanova (M.A.) Universities and attended Temple University for further graduate study.
Ed Starkenburg serves as the CACE office administrator, assisting CACE personnel and communicating with schools in the CACE network. For 17 years Ed served as an education professor at Dordt University. Prior to that position, he chaired and taught in the Education Department at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. His experience also includes teaching third and fourth graders for 12 years in Northwest Iowa. Ed earned a B.A. from Dordt University, an M.Ed. in elementary education from the University of Sioux Falls (1987), and an Ed.D. from the University of Northern Iowa (1999), specializing in curriculum and instruction.
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development and serves as co-chair of the annual Christian Deeper Learning conference. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press) and co-editor of the recent book MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education (ACSI).
Chad Dirkse has served in Christian education for 25 years in roles that include math and science teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, head of school and board member. He is currently the President of Chattanooga Christian School where he serves more 1,100 students and 130 faculty and staff. Prior to his current position he served as the Superintendent at Westminster Christian School in Elgin, Illinois. Chad has an undergraduate degree in education from Covenant College and an MBA with a specialization in school leadership from LeTourneau University. Chad speaks regularly to groups about the school sustainability and the importance of consistency in the process and content of Christian schooling.
Director of teaching for transformation, Senior fellow
Darryl DeBoer is the K-12 Director of Learning for Surrey Christian School in Surrey, British Columbia, a co-creator of Teaching for Transformation, and the Director of Teaching for Transformation for CACE. Darryl has also been a science teacher, outdoor educator, and administrator in Switzerland, India, and numerous Canadian Christian schools. He is passionate about students, staff, and schools exploring their calling in God’s story.
Erik Ellefsen is the Director of Networks and Improvement at the Baylor University Center for School Leadership. He also serves as Senior Fellow for Cardus, hosts Digical Education (a podcast providing engaging conversations with some of the most innovative education leaders), and is a leading collaborator and author of the Mindshift project. Formerly he served as an academic and college counselor at Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA), He has served in education for more than two decades as a teacher, coach, consultant, Grievance Chairman for the American Federation of Teachers, Dean of Academics at Boston Trinity Academy, and Principal at Chicago Christian High School.
Steven Levy is an educational consultant, working independently and with EL Education. After 28 years teaching in classrooms K-12, he now guides teachers in designing service-based curriculum, engaging instructional practices, student owned assessments, and character development. He was recognized as the Massachusetts State Teacher of the Year (1993), and honored by the Disney American Teacher Awards as the national Outstanding General Elementary Teacher (1995). Mr. Levy was the recipient of the Joe Oakey Award for his national impact on project-based learning, and received the John F. Kennedy Prize for the teaching of history. Mr. Levy and his fourth grade students were designated “Conservation Heroes” by the National Park Service for their study of the effects of a local bike path on the environment and the community. Mr. Levy has written various articles for educational journals, and his book, Starting From Scratch (Heinemann, 1996), details some of the projects and students he has worked with in his elementary classrooms.
David Urban is co-founder of Charter Oak Research and its Chief Operating Officer. David also leads Charter Oak’s educational practice. Previously he served as Chief Advancement Officer at Charlotte Christian School, Vice President of Client Service at Olson Research Group, and Vice President of Enrollment at Eastern University. David was the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP) Admissions Officer of the Year in 2010. Dave is a graduate of Eastern University (B.S., M.B.A.).