Jim Lee is the administrator for Lancaster Baptist School. I appreciate his commitment to excellence in Christian education, and I asked him to write the guest post below. If you administrate or teach in a Christian school, these thoughts will be helpful to you.
Educators can spot students who wing it—the book report written during lunch, the science fair project pulled together the night before. We know.
Students aren’t the only ones who wing it, however. If we as educators and administrators are not proactive to redeem the summer, we will also be forced to wing it this fall.
The summer weeks fly quickly. Do you have a plan for how you will prepare this summer for the start of the new school year?
Below is a checklist from my summer plan. These are coming from a school administrator, so if you are a teacher, your list will look a little different. Either way, I challenge you to invest this summer in preparing for the best school year you’ve had so far.
- Develop a theme for the new year. We like to use a theme because it brings a cohesive thrust to the spiritual development in all of the classrooms. By way of ideas, here are some of our recent themes:
- Reaching Forth – Philippians 3:13
- Living A Life of Distinction – Titus 2:14
- Ambassadors for Christ – II Corinthians 5:20
- All Things Through Christ – Philippians 4:13
- Christ In You – Colossians 1:27
- Order curriculum and supplies. Now is the time to finalize your list of curriculum and classroom/office supplies for a later summer order.
- Declutter. Empty your email inbox, clean off your desk, and purge your files. Don’t go into a new school year with last year’s clutter fogging your mind and work spaces.
- Create the school year calendar. Working with the key dates on the church calendar, plan the dates for the next school year calendar—teacher orientation, opening day, fall, Christmas, and spring breaks, state testing weeks, report card dates, parent/teacher fellowships, senior play, fundraisers, etc.
- Review student and faculty/staff handbooks. Review your handbooks to be sure they are up to date, including updating school breaks and new policies. Collect notes you’ve made throughout the year of revisions you wanted to make to the handbook.
- Write a detailed plan for each event of the school year. Anticipate the questions parents and teachers will have regarding any event on the school year calendar, and create a thorough plan for each event. Some of this step will be a matter of proactive delegating to those who are in charge of the event. Give them a timeline for communicating with you, and follow up to be sure everything is in order.
- Finalize budget. Our school fiscal year is July 1–June 30, so by the time school is out at the end of May, I am focusing on reviewing last year’s budget for adjustments to the new school year’s budget.
- Encourage teacher training. We want our teachers to take continuing education classes throughout the school year and to further develop themselves in the summer. Look into what summer training your teachers may need and how you can help them, and then follow up throughout the summer to see if they have any needs. Perhaps you could provide a book list of resources that will encourage them to sharpen their teaching and mentoring skills. We provide a book for each teacher to read during the summer that we will discuss as a staff in the fall.
- Review facilities. Summer is the time to paint and repair as needed. Take a walk through your offices and classrooms with a critical eye. What would you notice if this was your first day of school? What would you see if you were sitting in the fourth desk on the third row for an hour? Make a list, and begin repairs.
- Prepare for faculty/staff orientation. Each year, about two weeks before school begins, we conduct a faculty/staff orientation. Have your lessons and/or special speakers prepared and lined up for this well in advance.
- Build anticipation by writing letters. I’d encourage you to write letters throughout the summer—especially as you near the start of the school year. Perhaps the following would help you jump start your own list:
- All school families—recapping the year and thanking them for their investment in the last school year. In this letter, you can emphasize the next year’s theme and introduce new faculty/staff as well as new events/activities that will be coming up the following year.
- Prospective families—stressing the need for Christian education and sharing your desire to assist them in reinforcing biblical values in the hearts of their children.
- Faculty/staff—encouraging a change of pace from the school year with some time of rest, reading, decluttering, and preparation.
- First week of school for students—reminder of the new theme for the year, an expression of your prayers for them and eagerness to see what the Lord will do in their lives in the coming year.
- Prepare for the first week of school. Make sure all the classrooms are in tip top shape and are welcoming to students. Plan a student assembly to help set expectations.
Hopefully, this list will kick start your summer preparation plans. Be sure to get some vacation time to refresh your mind and, most importantly, some time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.