Author Archives: Joel Westa

Culture Is Key

It seems everywhere I look or listen, whether it be scholarly articles, organizational self-help books, television interviews, or internet podcasts, I keep hearing some permutation of the phrase “culture eats strategy for lunch.” An entire block of my EdD coursework was on organizational culture, and my bookshelf is lined with books designed to help me discern it, measure it, change it, or run from it!

Organizational culture guru Edgar Schein said, “Either you manage the culture, or it manages you.” I am confident that every one of you who leads a school has a story of how your best laid plans of implementing the greatest change to your organization got steamrolled by your school culture.
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Guest Blog: Committed to a Faithful Pedagogy

There are many discussions going on in Christian education circles about development of a biblical worldview and the integration of that worldview into our pedagogy. Recently, the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE) became the distributor for Teaching for Transformation (TfT) in the US. CSI is excited to work in partnership with CACE in this effort to better serve our schools. CSI has no desire to duplicate an excellent program like TfT, but also recognizes TfT may not be the perfect fit for all of our schools. CSI is moving forward in the creation of resources to assist schools with the critical task of integrating a biblical worldview and is eager to hear your thoughts on how best to accomplish this task.

While a faithful philosophy of education is important, we also need to focus on a faithful pedagogy. The following article, written by my good friend Dr. Richard Edlin from Australia, gives some ideas on integrating pedagogy and philosophy and may be of use for professional development.
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Standards for Discipleship

My apologies for taking another week’s break from my series on organizational alignment. I’ve been on the road every week so far this month, and I haven’t had the time to develop what I would consider to be a helpful piece on alignment.

My travels this week took me to a conference in Pine Mountain, Georgia, at the Impact 360 Institute, an organization that provides gap year alternative programs of study for high school graduates. Part of the program featured Trip Lee, who is an author, hip-hop artist, and pastor. If you know me at all, you would know I’m not a huge fan of the hip-hop music genre, so I wasn’t sure what was in store for us that evening. What transpired was a challenging discussion on this current generation and how we are ministering to them.
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Summiting Mount Antero

I’m going to take a blog session off from my series on alignment to share some thoughts from my recent week of serving as a mentor for West Point cadets in the collegiate peaks of Colorado though an organization called Officers’ Christian Fellowship. The purpose of OCF and specifically the Rocky Mountain High Program in which I participated is to provide young cadets beginning their military careers with seasoned advice from an experienced (old) and retired (washed-up) senior officer (me) on how to operate and live as Christians in today’s military.

As I wracked my brain thinking and praying about the topics I’d wished I had known in my early military years, it came down to a couple key thoughts, around which I structured all of my lessons.
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Your Vision for the Future

My last post talked about developing strategic alignment within your organization. The first step in accomplishing this is to develop a clear, agreed-upon vision and strategy. The essential task of any leader is to discuss and determine with your boards and with your staff what the “main thing” is for your school.

I often find that there is some confusion between mission and vision. For the purpose of this series of articles, vision is aspirational. It should be a short statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization’s or program’s work.
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The Important Work of Strategic Alignment

When giving an assessment of an organization for its upcoming strategic planning efforts, I was asked what advice I would give the leader as the organization moved forward. After thinking a bit about the organization, I was at a loss for anything specific.

I really didn’t know the inner workings of the organization, having only watched them from afar and having dealt with some of their constituents. It is a solid, well-led organization that is meeting the needs of its customer base. What I did recommend was the process of a thorough examination of their personnel structure and organizational structure.
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Kale Is My Friend

I’m on my ninth day of a juice fast. I won’t tell you how long I’m planning to go, because I’m afraid I won’t make it. I’m doing this to lose weight, to detox my body, to try something difficult, and to change my poor eating habits. As I sip my lunch bottle of apple, orange, and kale, I’m still waiting for that claim of energy and vigor to kick in. Nine days without coffee. Nine days without chewing. I miss chewing.

Before you think I’ve lost my mind and am just rambling, I have learned a few things about myself and the world we live in, and I’d like to share them with you.
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Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

I spent 25 years of my life in the Air Force, flying, teaching, planning, and later commanding heavy bomber units. The experiences and stories I have from those days are often the source of some pretty hysterical leadership lessons. I want to share with you one event.
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Called to Community

CSI just finished its annual installment of the Principal Development Institute (PDI) in Orlando, Florida. In addition to the joy of getting away from Michigan in February, this event, perhaps more than any other CSI event, highlights for me the importance of serving together in a community of likeminded schools.
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Filed under Governance, Trends in education

A Biblical Model for Board Succession

One of the topics I often cover in board development workshops is the concept and practice of establishing a model for board member succession. Whether the transition of board members happens based on the expiration of the defined term, in crisis due to disciplinary reasons, or in the event of the resignation or death of a board member, your board policy should clearly lay out the exit and replacement procedures.

It struck me the other morning while reading Acts 1 that God’s Word provides us with a great example of board succession in a crisis situation—the sudden death of a board member. (If he had not died, he would have been removed for disciplinary reasons, I might add!)

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