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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word koinonia is used 20 times and is defined as fellowship, community, and communion among Christians. Jesus prays for such unity among believers in John 17 so that others may come to salvation. Simply put, koinonia furthers the Kingdom.
About three years ago, a group of Christian school leaders from Broward County began meeting on a quarterly basis to learn from each other, ask questions, pray together, and encourage each other as fellow heads of school on the same mission — to educate students in a biblical environment that points students to Jesus Christ.
“Although we represent different schools, we are all on the same team and want the same thing for our students,” said Calvary Christian Academy’s Head of School Jason Rachels, Ed.D. “We know God delights in seeing this kind of unity among His people instead of competition or rivalry.”
As these leaders continued to meet and pray, the Lord gave them a vision in the form of questions: What if all Christian education professionals in this region could gather, grow, and support one another like we’re doing? What if they didn’t have to fly to another state and incur steep travel costs to receive such professional development?
This vision became a reality on October 25, 2019 when 750 faculty and staff members gathered together for the first-ever Schools United Professional Development Day Conference. During this day-long event at Calvary Christian Academy, attendees who represented all grade levels, departments, and roles received an encouraging word from a guest speaker, learned from one another in various breakout sessions, and engaged in roundtable discussions with professionals who work in their same department or division at different schools.
“Whether you were a teacher, TA, administrator, security officer, school nurse, finance director, or athletics coach, there were growth opportunities for everyone,” said Dawn Vitulli, M.Ed., Schools United event coordinator. “Our heart is to see the relationships that were made at Schools United Conference continue to flourish throughout the school year and for life.”
Research supports what the Word says about the value of such koinonia. When individuals with similar interests meet regularly and engage in the process of thinking together as a community of practice, they gain knowledge and insight that could not be gleaned from textbooks or formal teaching (Pyrko, Dörfler, & Eden, 2017).
“Learning from life experiences is invaluable,” said Dr. Steve Kitchens, Headmaster at Weston Christian Academy. “We go further in each of our God-given callings when we have support and accountability from others who are also walking the same road we are and desiring to be a part of the story God is writing.”
Do you work at a Christian school in Broward County? You’re invited to join Schools United’s quarterly meetings. There are no membership fees or dues, and lunch is provided! Also, for both public and private school staff, the next Schools United Conference will be on October 23, 2020. For more info, visit SchoolsUnited.City or email Info@SchoolsUnited.City.
*Pyrko, I., Dörfler, V., & Eden, C. (2017). Thinking together: What makes Communities of Practice work? Human Relations, 70(4), 389–409. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872671666104