Unity of Community

“It is a good reminder that we are not competing against each other. Our goal as Christian schools is to ultimately impact young lives for Christ no matter which setting they choose.”


This past November our school collaboration group composed of Broadfording, New Life, Shalom, Heritage and Grace Academies hosted a professional development training day. It was the second effort at offering a common training day and it was an overwhelming success. Over 125 faculty members attended the all-day training.

Dr. Kathleen Richards Hopkins, who presents workshops nationally and internationally on topics related to the enhancement of student learning ability, was the featured speaker. She came highly qualified with an undergraduate degree in education from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree from Regent University and her Doctorate in education from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Dr. Hopkins was past executive director of the National Institute of Learning Development (NILD) based in Norfolk, Virginia. She was instrumental in establishing NILD community based centers serving students of all ages who desire to go beyond tutoring and develop their abilities to learn. She has over 30 years of experience in the education field.

Her presentation was themed to the book she authored entitled: “Teaching How to Learn in a What-to-learn Culture.” Dr. Hopkins presented a very practical, no-nonsense approach to classroom instruction. Her insights were masterfully presented and the faculty left with strategies that could be used immediately in their classroom.

The following represents the general consensus of teacher opinion of the training:

“The day was very productive. The speaker did a wonderful job educating, reminding, and offering new ways of looking at the classroom. Many of these events are unproductive and boring. This was not the case. Good job.”

“The speaker was excellent. I felt affirmed in many of the things I am already doing in my classroom as well as challenged to do more. I am already trying to incorporate more questions to increase verbal skills and critical thinking. I am grateful for the book which I have not had an opportunity to read yet but intend to in the near future.”

“I was able to practically absorb and apply everything that was shared with me. I walked away very encouraged. It is extremely important to teach kids how to learn so that they will become independent, life-long learners. And teachers need to constantly be learning about how kids learn so that we can teach them more effectively.”

Not only did the faculty feel the day was worthwhile, the school leaders also saw the day as a giant step forward not only with our faculty training but just for Christian education in general.

Dr. Powell, Superintendent of Heritage Academy wrote, “I was most impressed with the seminar information; but more importantly the collaboration between the Christian schools on the learning process, meetings they had together to discuss information and just being able to meet with other Christian educators.”

Angie Petersheim, Principal of Shalom Academy noted, “Repeatedly throughout the day I heard comments from teachers and administrators expressing appreciation that our schools could come together in this way. It is a good reminder that we are not competing against each other. Our goal as Christian schools is to ultimately impact young lives for Christ no matter which setting they choose.”

This is just one example which shows that collaboration has huge benefits by the opportunities that can be provided when resources are shared rather than competed for. Christian education should be about excellence and that can be reached when we work together to complete the mission that God has given us.

I fear too often Christian education is shortchanged by our unwillingness to work together. This kind of uncooperative mindset does little to grow our school program. In isolation without resources it is virtually impossible not to produce an inferior student graduate.

The biblical passage from Ecclesiastes 4:12 says it best. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

We are practicing educational malpractice if we do not work together in doing Kingdom work that needs done. God wants our best.

By Jack Appleby