A Message from the President
Developing Christ-centered transformational leaders who in turn impact their school culture is precisely the goal of the Flourishing Schools Institute (FSi). ACSI’s vision is for the biblical principle of flourishing (Psalm 115:14) to manifest within each Christian educator, and collectively within each school.
When we hear about 'culture,' we most often think of what is happening outside our institution – but every school has a 'culture' that is both unique to the organization and essential to its health and well-being. Preparing students to navigate the raging waters of our external culture is directly dependent on building the foundation of the school’s internal culture. Thus, if our end goal is to disciple the hearts and minds of the next generation, then a biblically based philosophy of education must be the rudder.
Additionally, there must be a roadmap that links the philosophy to every component that drives and sustains a flourishing school culture. 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. These constructs, or ‘parts,’ make up the ‘whole,’ and the more the parts are strategically connected, the more a flourishing school culture can become a reality.
This multi-year research project, validated by a rigorous independent review sponsored by Cardus, was conducted by ACSI Research under the leadership of Dr. Lynn Swaner, ACSI’s Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer. The five domains of flourishing and their related constructs of the resulting Flourishing School Culture Model (FSCM) have now been mapped onto a premier leadership development opportunity—the Flourishing Schools Institute (FSi).
The distinctives of the Institute are:
- The FSi focuses on school leaders and their senior leadership teams, so that all teachers, classrooms, and students are reached via a school-wide professional development and training plan.
- The FSi's position on school culture is that the philosophy of Christian education, and more specifically Kingdom education, must be the first thing established by school leaders. A biblically based common philosophy is key to and essential for unity in heart, thought, and action when it comes to school flourishing.
- The FSi trains school leaders to view their school as a 'whole,' with many interdependent parts or 'constructs' of the school culture. This symbiotic relationship provides context for leaders, prevents leaders from compartmentalizing parts or constructs, and enables leaders to contextualize how each part or construct connects to the core philosophy of Kingdom education—thus advancing the 'whole.'
- The FSi's attention is on the end goal of every Christian school—its Portrait of a Graduate—which is to produce disciples of Jesus Christ. Alignment of biblical Purpose—the first and foremost domain of the model, and its related constructs—with all practices of the school, across all domains, is key to students' internalizing biblical truth now, and to applying a biblical worldview in living faithfully and engaging in the good works which God has prepared for them (Ephesians 2:10).
- The FSi correlates with a validated tool for school assessment, the Flourishing School Culture Instrument (FSCI), which provides a comprehensive analysis of a school's strengths and areas for growth across each domain and their related constructs. The instrument enables schools to focus on specific areas that have been identified as areas for growth to inform their professional development plan. Although schools do not have to participate in the instrument to attend the FSi, it is highly recommended.
- The FSi assists school leaders in developing a three to five-year strategic flourishing school culture plan. Intentional best practices, centered on each of the Flourishing School Culture Model domains and their 35 related constructs, ensure a systemic impact on the school.
As a recent head of school, I can personally attest to the challenge of building and sustaining a Kingdom-focused flourishing organizational culture. I believe the Flourishing School Culture Model (FSCM) represents the integral areas that must receive the leader's attention, and the Flourishing Schools Institute (FSi) provides the intentional plan, or roadmap, to a flourishing school.
Larry Taylor, Ph.D.