A professional development opportunity for school leaders who want to transform their school culture to flourish.
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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“The Flourishing School Institute cultivates Christ-centered leaders to transform their school culture through Kingdom education.The FSi is organized around research-based linkages of constructs, or parts, of the school which contribute to the development of a flourishing school culture. Please read more important information detailing the philosophy and research-rich foundation of this biblically distinctive new initiative.”
ARCHITECT, ACSI FLOURISHING SCHOOLS RESEARCH
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 2022-2023
Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a Biblical worldview. Sean is an Associate Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.
In 2008 he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, California. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014.
Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of over twenty books including The Fate of the Apostles, So the Next Generation Will Know (with J. Warner Wallace), Evidence that Demands a Verdict (with Josh McDowell), Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage (with John Stonestreet), Is God Just a Human Invention? (with Jonathan Morrow) and Understanding Intelligent Design (with William A. Dembski). Sean has one of the leading apologetics blogs, which can be read at seanmcdowell.org.
Domain: Purpose Construct: Questioning
Dr. Leah Zuidema has had a lifelong curiosity about how teachers enable student learning. This thread of curiosity has been a constant in her work as an educator, from her days as a high school student giving music lessons, to her roles as an English teacher and English education professor, to her years as a college dean and administrator for undergraduate, graduate, and online programs. She now serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Dordt University, where she is responsible for leading all faculty and academic programs—with the purpose of equipping students for Christ-centered renewal in all areas of life.
Leah is passionate about supporting and developing teachers. Formative experiences in her own professional development have included the National Writing Project’s teacher-led summer institutes, her graduate studies at Michigan State University, a Fulbright Scholar program in France for administrators, and her recent role as elected leader for the National Council of Teachers of English. She co-authored the book Coaching Teacher-Writers: Practical Steps to Nurture Professional Writing and numerous scholarly articles on composition and teacher education. One of her most widely read pieces is an online article for In All Things entitled “The Toughest Question about Christian Education.”
Domain: Teaching & Learning Construct: Feedback
Dr. K. Shelette Stewart has over 20 years of leadership experience as a business practitioner and academician with leading organizations, including Harvard Business School, The Coca-Cola Company, and BellSouth/AT&T. She is a Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Program Specialist and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration.
A graduate of Harvard University, Dr. Stewart is the founder and principal of Stewart Consulting, LLC, launched in 2007. She is also the author of the award-winning book, Revelations in Business: Connecting Your Business Plan with God’s Purpose and Plan for Your Life©.
A highly sought-after international speaker, Dr. Stewart has served as the keynote speaker for many leading organizations. Her board memberships include the LEAD Program, New Hope Compassion (NHC) for China, the Warren Holyfield Boys & Girls Club. She is the recipient of Women Economic Forum Iconic Leaders Creating a Better World for All Award, The YWCA of Greater Atlanta, and The Coca-Cola Company Salute to Women of Achievement Award..
Domain: Relationships Construct: Community Engagement
Mia Mbroh has been a licensed professional counselor for over 25 years and is a certified parent educator and a trained facilitator for the Anti-Defamation League. Her career has been dedicated to helping others; she has extensively worked with children, educators, schools, and leaders. Mia currently works as a facilitator of organizational wellness, specifically addressing leaders’ mental and emotional health. Mia facilitates healthy conversations about relational health, mental and emotional wellness, 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 and equip them in a proactive manner.
Domain: Well-Being Construct: Stress
Dr. Scott Rodin has a passion for helping Christian ministry leaders take a biblical approach to leadership development, strategic planning, board development and raising kingdom resources. Over the past thirty years he has worked with hundreds of organizations in the U.S, Canada, Middle East, Great Britain, China, India, the Philippines, and Australia.
Dr. Rodin is president of The Steward’s Journey and Kingdom Life Publishing. He also runs Rodin Consulting, Inc. He is a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education, Partner for the Alliance for Board Effectiveness and is past board chair of China Source and the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Dr. Rodin holds Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Systemic Theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Domain: Expertise & Resources Construct: Resource Planning
*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 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 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.
* Title II funding could assist with this professional development cost. Call the ACSI Care Team at (800) 367-0798 for more information.
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.
We are excited to share more about our pilot year and program details being finalized with you. Let us know you’re interested in learning more and we will be in contact soon.
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.