Middle School Update

January 22, 2016

A Kingdom-Class Eduation

I vividly remember looking into the eyes of my infant daughters after bringing them home from the hospital. Innocent, beautiful children-full of potential. I knew instantly that I would give my life for them, and I wanted the best for them: spiritually, physically, relationally, and even educationally. So deep was my commitment to my daughters' education that, in God's providence, I left my corporate career to start a Christian school.

But what is "the best" when it comes to the education of one's children? What does "the best" look like? Is seeking the best even a biblical value?

I encounter two recurring objections when I advocate for worldclass excellence in Christian schools. One is the fear that excellence will lead to elitism. The second is that the term world-class really means "worldly."

Excellence and elitism are not synonymous, nor does the passionate pursuit of excellence automatically lead to elitism. And a Christian school can be world-class without compromising its commitment to God's Word and to Christ. Part of our struggle arises from imprecise definitions.

Elitism is snobbishness: being condescending, pretentious, and stuck-up. This is antithetical to biblical attitudes and behaviors: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Excellence, on the other hand, is defined as a distinction in quality, caliber, and mastery; it means being the best in class. I may, for example, seek out a world-class cardiologist if I need heart surgery. No one I know would seek out a well-meaning but average heart surgeon! If I have to choose between a world-class atheist cardiologist and an average Christian cardiologist when I go under the knife, give me the atheist. If I survive, I'll witness to him or her!

Seeking a world-class cardiologist is not elitist or worldly; it is responsible and smart. A world-class cardiologist has worked hard to become proficient at saving lives-an important responsibility! This is a noble goal, something to be commended and encouraged.

I can think of no more important responsibility than educating the hearts and minds of our children. In such a crucial calling, mediocrity simply will not do; it is unworthy of the task and unworthy of Christ.

However, while defining excellence in terms of being world-class is not inherently wrong or inaccurate, it is too narrow. In seeking a more biblical and descriptive definition of excellence for our children's school, I use the term kingdom-class: a school that is among the best in the world because of the quality and impact of its programs. It sets a standard of educational quality and innovation worth emulating-by non-Christian and Christian educators alike.

The students of a kingdom-class school are equipped for college and a career in a competitive world. They are prepared to use their Godgiven gifts in fulfilling both the Creation Mandate and the Great Commission.

A kingdom-class school transforms the lives of its students and glorifies God through its commitment to excellence. A kingdom-class education includes the quality measures that constitute a world-class program, but deepens them to include a biblical worldview. It educates both the mind and the soul and seeks to glorify God, not man, so that we obey Jesus' command to "Let your light shine before others" (Matthew 5:16).

So should we strive for our children's Christian school to be kingdom-class? The answer for some will be an obvious and emphatic "Yes," but it is not so clear-cut for everyone. Our response to this question strikes at the core of our responsibility as parents and the mission of Christian schools.

I believe we should strive to be kingdom-class, and in the second part of this series I will outline the distinguishing features of a kingdom-class school.

Dr. Barrett Mosbacker
Head of Briarwood Christian School


Important Dates

January 26, 4:00: PD Meeting, Fixes 13,14,15

Feb. 2, 4:00: Combined Staff

Feb. 8-9: Chinese New Year - NO SCHOOL

Feb. 16-20: ACSC Girls Basketball Tournament at Dalat

Cheering Schedule

Feb. 17: Progress Reports Due

Feb. 23: PD Meeting: Where do we go with grading?

Feb. 29-March 2: MEW

Time to schedule your 2nd TDEP meeting of the year!

The Active Learning Bucket List

Last week I had a difficult task before me. I needed to choose 10 active learning strategies to put into Curriculum Trak to create a menu of options from which we may select our instructional strategies for the units we map. Picking from a full booklet of ideas was tough enough; trying to consider a comprehensive list for three different divisions with student ages spanning from 3-18 years felt impossible. In the end I looked for the activities that have the most versatility for all kinds of subjects and can be used with all ages.

As I went through the selection process, I realized that each activity chosen could be used so many different ways. Over the next few weeks I want to highlight each of these 10 strategies and give you ideas for how to keep them fresh and use them in a variety of different contexts. The activities we’ll be looking at are:

1. Turn and Talk/Partner Share

2. Most Valuable Point

3. Partner Coaching

4. Guess

5. Finish the Thought

6. Summary (Alphabet Soup or another style)

7. Skill Drill/Quiz Me

8. Make Me a Problem/You’re the Teacher

9. Journal Reflection/Exit Ticket

10. Brainstorm

If you have any great ways you’ve used these strategies, I’d love to hear from you and share your ideas around!

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