The halls of the Hyatt Regency in Frisco, Texas were abuzz with excitement as 300 Christian school educators from across the globe gathered for the Association of Christian Schools International’s inaugural Flourishing Schools Institute (FSi). 

Participants represented 113 schools from six countries including Senegal, Panama, Paraguay, Thailand, the U.S., and a country in Central Asia.

Dr. Vance Nichols, head of school at Alta Loma Christian School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, departed from the ballroom of applauding educators. He had just heard John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, implore school leaders to think in a new way about their call to equip and empower students.  

“One of my key takeaways is that we must prepare our students to be effective God followers in this post-Christian new Babylon, just as Daniel and his friends in exile were,” Nichols said. “This means a new way of educating and empowering our kids to face the world they are in with Christ confidence, so they are ready for their future.”

Alongside his entire leadership team, Nichols gleaned powerful insights from renowned Institute faculty including Scott Turner, CEO of Scott Turner Consulting Group and former NFL player; Dr. Althea Penn, Executive Director of The Shepard’s Academy Private Christian School; Peter Greer, President and CEO of Hope International; and Rex Miller, author of “Humanizing the Education Machine.”

 “All of the speakers were exceptional,” he shared. “The FSi was one of the most amazing and truly beneficial events ACSI has ever held. It was practical yet highly motivating, and was the most unique educational experience our leadership team has ever walked through together.”

Committed to school improvement, Nichols’ school, Alta Loma Christian School, was one of 65 pilot schools that participated in the first administration of ACSI’s Flourishing School Culture Instrument. Through the Instrument pilot, the leadership team was able to ascertain such specific areas of growth that they plan to administer the Instrument again in the 2021-22 school year. 

“While we believe we have a flourishing school, there is constantly room for improvement,” Nichols said. “The results of our first experience with the Instrument were so insightful that we want to take a deeper dive as a leadership team and school community to be all that God wants us to be.”

Nichols is passionate about ensuring the continuation of healthy Christian schools. In 2016, he completed research at the University of Southern California investigating why Christian schools across the nation had been closing. He hoped that his findings would suggest a way to turn the Christian education movement around—and he wasn’t disappointed.

“One of the conclusions of the study was that our associations and schools needed to conduct more research and engage themselves in more think-tank type opportunities to learn from one another,” he said. “The FSi and Instrument are a huge and effective response to that recommendation! May we continue to move robustly in this direction.”

ACSI will host additional Institutes and is offering discounted bundle pricing with the Instrument. Learn more on the website.