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.
This year, sixteen participants from the US and Canada gathered, and we talked about sustainability, governance, board development, personal development, leadership, and best practices. We used Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Necessary Endings as a framework to begin the discussion about how to make and act on difficult decisions that affect our schools, and sometimes ourselves.
There is a moment I have observed that occurs every year at PDI— whether the school leader is from a suburban, urban, rural, large, or small school, be it in the heartland or on the coasts—it is the moment we all realize we are not alone in our efforts to lead our schools well. As we hear each other discussing struggles with the same issues, celebrating the same successes, grieving over the same losses, and praying together for the same outcomes, the lightbulb goes on. We realize we’re not alone in the challenges we face and that we are all called to lead schools that, in large part, share the same mission statement: to prepare the next generation of Christ-followers to have a Kingdom impact in this world. At that moment of realization, there is tremendous relief and a loosening of the guardedness we carry with us, and we begin to reach out and ask for help and ideas. That is why we will always be better together and stronger together when we exist as a community of schools rather than as individual schools.
CSI is committed to reestablishing that community in a more finite way, providing more opportunity for schools to work together and network with each other to create a shared community of best practices. You’ll see more on this over the next few months as we roll out the new strategic plan for CSI, one that centers on strengthening and expanding community.
I can’t say it as well as one our recent PDI graduates just did.
“As I have spoken with peers and my leadership team, I find myself repeatedly sharing insights that were gained from those that attended this PDI. New ideas, trends, suggestions, and goals to be set lie ahead, and I believe all of us feel more empowered to face the challenges that the future holds thanks to this opportunity.”
I’m committed to making CSI the organization that provides the catalyst for the rebuilding of the community of member schools, and I hope you’ll join me in the effort!
– Joel Westa