Do you have “PEP” as a School Leader?

Dan BeerensThe CACE Roundtable3 Comments

LeadershipAs I have thought recently about effective leadership at the principal, superintendent, and head of school level in Christian schools, it occurs to me that there are at least three areas of focus that are critical to do the job effectively. I have identified these areas with the acronym PEP – Priorities, Entrepreneurialism, and People Centeredness.


The leader of a school plays a critical role as spiritual leader.  I believe that, like a teacher modeling for students, the modeling of the leader is critical for the entire school staff. The leader encourages or discourages spiritual growth and calls the followers to goodness or inadvertently gives permission for poor behavior because of the leader’s poor example. Great leaders must demonstrate consistently implemented values and a transparent worldview. They must determine, and commit to, what is most important for the school – communicating this clearly and often. They help others set priorities that promote and enhance the mission and vision of the school. They are the chief mission and vision carriers, the key person who reminds others what the school stands for, how it is distinctive and true to its mission, and where it hopes to head in the future. They must be “passioneers” with integrity – they need to be the lead cheerleader! Strong leaders seek to embed the mission and vision of the school in people, policy, processes, and practice.


The leader of the school demonstrates an attitude of continuous learning and improvement, open to, and seeking out, new ideas. Leaders relish feedback about the school for continuous improvement and search out new opportunities for the school to impact their students, the school community, and the world. They are willing to take risks, encouraging and supporting innovation in teaching and learning. They are purposeful in helping others to embrace a larger vision and commit to a multi-year plan of improvement. They seek excellence by benchmarking results and utilizing research based best practices. They model being the chief learner and work to establish a culture of learning.  They are uneasy with the status quo and have a passion for true worship/service, desiring to offer their very best as praise to God.

People centeredness:

The focus of the leader should be to genuinely love all the people he/she serves. Leaders must truly seek the best for each person – demonstrating this by seeking to put in place processes and policies that help to develop the capacity of each person.  They must see the image of Christ in each person and seek to understand their gifts and potential contribution to the school. Leaders need to put in place professional development processes and leadership structures that encourage and challenge staff members to develop their gifts and to grow as a learning leader. Leaders must be careful to balance grace and truth in their interactions, processes, and accountability structures.

Leadership is not easy – it requires all kinds of “above and beyond” efforts and a heart that is attuned to, and seeks, God’s leading and wisdom. Yet what is sometimes unsaid is that it can be a very rewarding experience to be able to work with, and impact in positive ways, the lives of students, teachers, staff, parents, and community. When leaders are filled with “PEP” they are a huge blessing to all in their school and community.


3 Comments on “Do you have “PEP” as a School Leader?”

  1. Thanks Dan. A great reminder of the responsibility we have as leaders but also the privilege and joy it is to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. Appreciate your wisdom.

  2. Thanks Dan, love all the PEP! Also particularly interested in developing thoughts on the ‘balance point’ of grace and truth (see John 1:14) Here is a portion of text that may give us all cause to reflect some more on PEP and balance!

    Obviously, Grace and Truth do not need re-form because neither are rightly self-measured or un-measured. Both are measurable by the Grace and Truth of Christ. People of faith are however, badly in need of re-form that balances their reflection of Grace and Truth in Christ alone. A believer may be rightly defined as the undeserving recipient (Titus 3:5, Romans 3:10) of limitless Grace (2 Cor. 5:20-21, Philippians 2:8) and unyielding Truth (Isaiah 45:5-9, Psalm 119:160), perfectly and completely balanced on the righteousness and sacrifice of Christ. What is more largely reflected, at least in my experience in Christian education, is that a believer has earned some right of qualification that entitles him or her to dispense grace in safety and tell truth that isn’t difficult.

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