ACSI presents a professional development opportunity for Christian school leaders and teachers who want to transform their school culture to flourish.
Suggested Teacher Track
Teachers, welcome to FSi! At FSi, you will have the opportunity to learn from a panel of dynamic keynote speakers and attend a variety of breakout sessions that address the constructs of: Holistic Teaching, Stress, Mentoring Students, Engaged Learning, and Resources (Technology).
The Institute will give you rich perspective on what flourishing truly looks like and will equip you with the expertise and processes to bring your entire team on the journey to flourishing.
The Institute is a place to meet brothers and sisters in Christ who are dedicated to creating flourishing Christian schools.
Through the Institute, you will discover how to apply research-based principles in your everyday leadership and school activities to radically transform your school culture.
A flourishing Christian school is a community of students, educators, and families that glorifies Christ and excels in knowing Him and making Him known. Though such a community happens entirely by His grace, it does not happen at all by accident.
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Dr. Larry Taylor is the president of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
Prior to assuming leadership at ACSI, Dr. Taylor served for 20 years as the Head of School at Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) in Plano, Texas. Dr. Taylor previously served as President of the Texas Private Schools Association (TPSA) Board of Directors. Dr. Taylor also was a high school principal and assistant headmaster for 12 years at The First Academy in Orlando, Florida and has held teaching positions within the public school system. Taylor co-launched a national training institute for schools, “Becoming a Kingdom School Institute” and founded the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) program. He developed a training program for parents called “Becoming a Kingdom Family.” Dr. Taylor published the book titled Running with The Horses, which helps parents raise children to be servant-leaders for Christ and helps to build a family plan.
Architect, ACSI Flourishing Schools Research
Dr. Lynn Swaner, ACSI Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer and Cardus Senior Fellow, leads ACSI's groundbreaking Flourishing Schools Research initiative. Join her at FSi as she unpacks the data from the Flourishing School Culture Instrument (FSCI), along with findings from Christian schools around the world and new insights on how leaders can shape their school's culture toward flourishing.
Institute Faculty 2023-2024
Dave Hill is the founder of HeartSmart, a curriculum that supports thousands of educators around the world in building an emotionally healthy school culture. He is also the Children’s Ministry Director at Bethel Church, Redding. Prior to this, Dave worked as a children’s pastor for over a decade, trained teachers in growth mindset and produced children’s television content.He is passionate about instilling love in the hearts of children and equipping them to build a compassionate and courageous internal dialogue.
Domain: Relationships Construct: Prosocial Orientation
Dr. Dave currently serves as Professor of Education at Dordt University, where he teaches courses in educational foundations, STEM education, and educational technology, and chairs the Education department. He cohosts the Hallway Conversations podcast, and provides professional development experiences for educators in schools across North America. Dr. Dave is a learner and a thinker, and has a wide range of interests both within and outside of education. He is a voracious reader, an avid cyclist, a mediocre guitarist, a scholar of Educational Technology, an amateur geographer, and a self-described sci-fi geek.
Domain: Teaching & Learning Construct: Engaged Learning
A licensed profession counselor for over 25 years, Mia is a certified parent educator and a trained facilitator. Mia facilitates healthy conversations in regard to the topics of relational health, mental and emotional wellness, diversity, faith, awareness, and self-improvement. Mia holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Family Psychology with a minor in Education and Communication. She is also a published author and has recently written "A Sticky Story" - a children's book about navigating emotions and feelings when hard things happen. In response to a world that has brought anxiety and grief to the forefront, this book was created as a tool to evoke life-giving conversations with a young audience.
Domain: Well-Being Construct: Stress (Leader)
Natasha Crain is a speaker, blogger, podcaster, and author of four books who equips Christians to think more clearly about holding to a biblical worldview in an increasingly challenging secular world. Her latest book is Faithfully Different: Regaining Biblical Clarity in a Secular Culture. Natasha is also the author of three apologetics books for parents: Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, Talking with Your Kids about God, and Talking with Your Kids about Jesus. She hosts The Natasha Crain Podcast and co-hosts the Unshaken Faith Podcast with Alisa Childers. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV shows across the US and Canada. Natasha has an MBA from UCLA and a certificate in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is a former marketing executive and adjunct professor.
Domain: Purpose Construct: Integrated Worldview
Derek C. Schuurman worked as an electrical engineer for several years and later completed a Ph.D. at McMaster University in the area of robotics and computer vision using machine learning. He is currently professor of computer science at Calvin University, a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, and an advisor for AI&Faith. He has written about faith and technology issues in a variety of publications including monthly columns in Christian Courier and contributions to the Christian Scholars Review blog. He is the author of the book Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology and co-author of A Christian Field Guide to Technology for Engineers and Designers, both published by InterVarsity Academic Press.
Domain: Expertise and Resources Construct: Resource (Technology)
*Please note this is a sample schedule and the final schedule can change per specific location.
Dig deep into what flourishing in a Christian school means. Dynamic keynote speakers and breakout teachers will guide you through unpacking the ground-breaking, research-based Flourishing Christian School Model consisting of five domains: Purpose, Relationships, Learning Orientation, Expertise, and Resources along with Well-Being.
Put your thinking into action with a collaborative time to process flourishing learnings with speakers and other educators. Together, we will brainstorm an action plan for your school culture. We hope you will enjoy the opportunity to network with other school leaders and teachers through the Institute.
With in-person locations across the United States to consider, this unique, hands-on experience will be a rewarding investment professionally for you, your leadership team, and your teaching team, and for the long-term health of your school culture and community. These destinations also provide the opportunity to explore and enjoy a different perspective.
The Flourishing Christian School Model offers a wide range of ways to engage. While you may choose to just attend the Institute, we strongly recommend bundling the Instrument and Institute together, which will provide you with a fuller experience. If your survey data is completed before arriving at the Institute, it will help you to know what to focus on and thereby allow you to make the most of this collaborative time.
Hear From Past FSi Attendees
No matter how long you’ve been in Christian ed, there’s never a finish line. I think the professional development from a biblical worldview is extremely important.
I simply love FSi. I love the level of professionalism, the quality of speakers along with the research base. It’s really taking ACSI and Christian schools overall to a different level.
The Flourishing Schools Institute was a powerful opportunity to learn about the research base behind what makes Christian schools flourish. The institute was well laid out and contained a good balance of solid keynote presentations coupled with roundtable discussions about the application. The content was spiritually rich, encouraging, and challenging. I left feeling affirmed, supported, and inspired to continue to lead my school toward flourishing from a Biblical perspective.
In over 20 years of attending ACSI events, this was the best training I've ever received. My team and I walked away challenged and equipped. The FSi event was the perfect blend of practical and theory, individual reflection, and group collaboration, and it even included practical "next steps" for our school that felt manageable. I look forward to attending again!
Seeing a research-backed roadmap to how a Christian school can flourish has been invaluable for us.
Well-being is an important domain for both student and educator flourishing. The FSCI identified three constructs related to well-being—one for teachers and leaders (Stress), and two for students (Healthy Living and Resilience). This domain and related constructs demonstrate that the well-being of educators and students is not a secondary concern—but an essential contributor to flourishing outcomes.
Well-Being FSCM Constructs
Stress – Constant feelings of stress and being overwhelmed accompany a lack of time to prepare for instruction (Teachers) or to focus on physical health (Leaders).
Healthy Living – Students are happy with their physical health, including sufficient exercise and a healthy diet.
Resilience – Students handle stress effectively and respond well to/bounce back from difficult situations.
A Christian perspective on education provides the telos, or purposeful aim, of Christian schooling. The FSCI identified a commitment on the part of all school constituencies to the central purposes of education as strongly connected with flourishing outcomes.
Purpose FSCM Constructs
Responsibility – Leaders, teachers, and support staff feel a sense of shared ownership for school mission, success, and improvement.
Holistic Teaching – Teaching involves helping students develop spiritually and emotionally (teaching the heart and soul, as well as the mind).
Integrated Worldview – Christian worldview changes how we educate; there is no such thing as a secular sphere.
God’s Story – Students believe they are a part of God’s bigger plan and can be used by him to “make a difference.”
Questioning – Students have doubts about their faith, lack time to pray or study the Bible, and feel that most Christians are too judgmental.
Partnership – Families feel they are a part of the school’s mission, and that their child’s spiritual development requires their partnering with and being involved at the school.
Spiritual Formation – Alumni report that their Christian faith is stronger thanks to attending a Christian school, and they believe people can change with God’s help.
Education is a relational enterprise by nature. For Christian schools in particular, relationships are important because of the incarnational nature of Christian faith, expressed through community and in discipleship (John 1:14, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 4:16).
Relationship FSCM Constructs
Supportive Leadership – Principals are trusted, teachers feel that leaders “have our backs,” and leaders empower teachers and staff to make decisions.
Leadership Interdependence – Board members have diverse backgrounds, and are transparent about and rely on others to offset their weaknesses.
Family Relationships – Teachers “get to know” families, and frequent and systemic communication facilitates positive relationships.
Community Engagement – The school engages with the surrounding community and local churches, and regularly taps into community resources including networking and resource-sharing with other schools.
Mentoring Students – Staff point out talent in each student, help students see how they fit in God’s bigger plan, and are aware of students’ struggles at school or home.
Insular Culture – The school shields students from the world’s brokenness, the school is independent from the surrounding community, and/or the student body lacks diversity.
Christlike Teachers – Teachers show Christlike love, kindness, and care to students. Families feel students are cared about individually, including their spiritual development.
Prosocial Orientation – Students not only enjoy helping others, but also are known by others (e.g., peers) for showing love and care.
Caring Environment – From the perspective of school graduates, teachers were kind, students felt included in class, and students were protected from bullying.
Defining Expertise & Resources
While a sense of purpose is essential for Christian school leaders and teachers, their ability to fulfill that purpose is necessarily dependent upon their expertise as educators. FCSI research shows that flourishing is connected to excellence in educational and school management practices.
Expertise & Resources FSCM Constructs
Qualified Staff – New teacher hires are credentialed (licensed/certified) and have classroom experience.
Responsiveness to Special Needs – Teaching staff works together to serve students with special needs, aided by processes and resources for identifying and responding to those needs.
Resources – Materials and resources for teaching, including technology, are sufficient, and the school building is in good physical condition.
Resource Planning – A strategic financial plan and master facilities plan is in place, and financial planning is a strength of the board.
Resource Constraints – The school has financial resources to operate effectively; or, we could be more effective as a school if not for fiscal constraints, and we lack the resources we need to make changes in our school.
Defining Teaching & Learning
Schools are of course known as sites of learning for students. But if school cultures are to flourish, schools and educators themselves must also engage in learning. In fact, a school culture in which educators are committed to ongoing learning and improvement is linked to flourishing not only for the school and educators, but also for students.
Learning & Learning FSCM Constructs
Feedback – Feedback on teaching practice and classroom management is given regularly to facilitate adjustments in real-time.
Collaboration – Learning from and with other teachers drives and inspires better teaching.
Systems Thinking – When planning for change, the potential impact on the school, the classroom, students, and the overall system are considered.
Data-Driven Improvement – Data is used to gauge school results and effectiveness, determine goal attainment, and address problems the school faces.
Professional Development – PD is provided on-site and is subject- and role-specific.
Outcomes Focus – Process doesn’t matter if it isn’t producing results, and change is distracting if it doesn’t lead to increases in student achievement.
Culture of Improvement – Guided by school leadership and focused on the future, the school is continually improving/makes necessary changes to improve.
Individualized Instruction – Students are helped to figure out how they learn best and to identify their natural strengths.
Best Practice Orientation – Keeping up with best practices is prioritized and resources for doing so can be identified.
Engaged Learning – Students engage in activities that nurture critical thinking, evaluating information, and problem solving.
Behaviors for Learning – The classroom is orderly and well-managed, and teachers are organized and consistent in supporting student behaviors that contribute to learning.
*Please note this is a sample schedule and the final schedule can change per specific location.