Monthly Archives: June 2018

Educators’ Round Table at Advent

Southside Christian School was invited to join several educators for a round table discussion at Advent Methodist Church on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.  I was pleased to represent Southside Christian.  Non-public schools are not always invited to these kinds of conversations.  But Advent was obviously very intentional about including SCS and the schools which could benefit from partnership with their church in the Five Forks area.  If you would like to read my summary of the discussion, please read on. . . .

Educators’ Round Table Discussion

Advent Methodist Church

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Summary Notes of Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal  (All errors are mine alone.)

Ten (10) educators — mostly principals but also counselors and a teacher — from the Five Forks area — Greenville County, Mauldin, etc. — elementary school, middle school, and high school — including SCS — were asked to come prepared to answer the following question:  “When you think about the kids in your school — and their families — what are the things that break your heart? What keeps you up at night?”

I came prepared with the following list (not necessarily in priority order, but my number one bullet would be my number-one priority):

  • The high level of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts of students
  • The negatives of technology — detached face-to-face relationships, communication challenges, the negatives of social media, sexting, etc.
  • This younger generation’s casual attitude about human sexuality
  • Clarity of each student’s calling and post-secondary education
  • Whether colleges and universities still offer value to students, especially considering the debt at the point of college graduation
  • A new generation of students
  • Spiritual growth of students
  • The role of the “church” in neighborhoods
  • An ever-broadening gulf between those with a biblical worldview and those who are adhering to moral relativism and secular humanism
  • A lack of civility in the world — also bullying, mean behavior, and harassment
  • Politicians who polarize and represent themselves but not me
  • School safety
  • Reading — literacy and enjoyment
  • Fatherlessness, especially among families in lower socio-economic neighborhoods

I could tell that the discussion was not going to head in a direction which would have called for my contributions about “spiritual” matters, but I was still very impressed with more than one principal invoking the name of God as a major part of the solutions for these challenges we were discussing.

Never one to be shy, I shared my first priority, which kicked off a half-hour discussion of mental health issues.

The following items were discussed:

  • Disconnection between parents and their children (sometimes caused by smartphone use)
  • Smartphones are amplifying mental health issues (“like giving drugs to an addict,” one principal said)
  • A lack of resilience with students
  • Lack of outside play at home — limited exercise and community-building
  • Failure to resolve problems and conflicts effectively
  • No prayer in school.  One principal asked for Advent Church members to pray for our schools.
  • Helicopter / Drone / Velcro / Snowplow parents who protect their children from consequences — parents who make excuses for their children
  • “The key is relationships,” one principal said.
  • Social media is a definite negative.  One principal called this “anti-social media.”  Image control allows students to hide behind their created personas.  Students are experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Students with amazing strengths — who fall between the cracks and engage in self-hatred
  • School violence
  • Human trafficking between Charlotte and Atlanta — and how trafficking affects high schools, in particular
  • Life is demanding.  We are busy.
  • Poor communication of students and parents
  • Lack of support for immigrant families
  • Normalization of behaviors which previously would have been deemed “abnormal”
  • Parents turning the responsibility for discipling of students to church [or Christian school]. [This comment actually came from a public school principal.]
  • Churches not feeding parents, regarding their biblical responsibility for discipling and educating their children
  • Lack of Internet safety
  • There are “two Greenvilles.”  The one Greenville makes the top ten list of up-and-coming cities — very affluent.  The other Greenville is the pockets of poverty which exist, including the Five Forks area.  Students need food, clothing, transportation, effective and trustworthy role models, and higher expectations.
  • Poor role modeling of adults
  • Poor decision-making of young people.  Students are not thinking through the connection of their actions to consequences.
  • Critical hiring needs in schools.  We are too often “settling” for lesser candidates, because more effective teachers are not available.  One principal said, “Feed the teachers, or they will eat the kids!”  Greenville County is thinking about building an apartment complex for teachers, so their housing is more affordable.  There are not enough African-American teachers as role models.
  • One public school principal said, “Education is a calling.  My God called me to be in education.”
  • Students chasing money instead of their calling
  • A lack of mentors available to students.  The church could assist with volunteer mentors.

At the end of our discussion, one principal wisely and aptly pointed out, “We talked for over an hour today, and there was no mention of academics.  We seem to have a large semblance of control over the academics.”  [Still, this is an important topic.  We must help students to achieve at their highest levels intellectually, socially, and spiritually.]

This discussion was well worth my time.  I was so pleased that a church in our area had the heart to determine ways of partnering with our schools.  I imagine there will be additional round table discussions of this sort, and I hope Southside Christian continues to join in the conversations.  As the old saying goes, when the water rises in the harbor, ALL boats — and the quality of our lives — rise.


“You Get What You Want”

On Sunday, June 24, 2018, Eastside Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth messed with me yet again — He is the master of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. If you would like to read my summary of Dr. Auffarth’s message, “You Get What You Want,” please read on. . . .

“You Get What You Want”
From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, June 24, 2018

Quote of the Week:

“God is not proud. He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.” (C.S. Lewis)

Scripture of the Week:

John 13:18-30 — English Standard Version (ESV)

18 “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[a] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 

22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,[b] 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus[c] of whom he was speaking. 

25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 

26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” 

So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. 

Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 

28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

[a] John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled
[b] John 13:23 Greek in the bosom of Jesus
[c] John 13:24 Greek lacks Jesus

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer (All errors are mine alone.)

These are Jesus’ marching orders to His disciples, but that’s for a sermon on another day.

It was a cold winter’s day. A crowd had gathered at the window of a pet shop. A woman remarked about how cute it was that the puppies were keeping the others warm. A man said the puppies were just trying to keep themselves warm.

That’s how we do life. This is human nature. We want things to appear as though we are so generous, but it’s too much about us all of the time.

Maybe we should take the advice of actress and great theologian Shirley McClaine, who centers on self and who seeks to consummate her own identity. Is that what you want?

If you give a give a pig and a boy everything they want, you will get a very big pig and a very bad boy.

What do you want?

Today, we will look at what Judas wanted and what Jesus wanted.


What did Judas want?

Judas Iscariot was the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Chief Priests and Scribes. We don’t know how he joined the disciples, but he’s listed in every list of the disciples. We know he was the treasurer. He carried the money bag. He was consistently seen in a negative light. He was a thief. He stole from the money bag. He was incensed by the woman who poured valuable perfume on Jesus’ feet. Thirty pieces of silver were enough for him to betray Jesus?

I think the disciples had a general misunderstanding about Jesus. They thought Jesus was going to establish a new geo-political kingdom. For Judas, that must have been attractive. He saw Jesus do miracles. He knew Jesus was capable of great power. He would have loved to join that movement. At some point, Judas must have thought he was on the ground floor of Jesus’ movement.

But Jesus continued to turn the world upside-down. Judas must have gotten tired and exasperated by Jesus’ actions. Perhaps he could help the movement. If he betrayed Jesus, perhaps He would declare Himself to be a Messiah. He could have done so. It’s conjecture. It’s plausible. We don’t know Judas’ motivation. But we do know he was out for himself. So he plotted to betray Jesus.

Jesus knew this all along. He knew Judas was “faking it.” Judas was duplicitous. He was two-faced. And Jesus knew it. Jesus alluded to Judas’ upcoming betrayal on more than one occasion. But Jesus showed love to His enemy. He loved him well. He gave him opportunity not to go down that destructive path.

Last week, we looked at Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Imagine Jesus washing Judas’ feet shortly before he betrayed Him. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that one of them would betray Him. The disciples were stunned. What?! They stared at one another to determine which of them He meant.

Judas knew he was the betrayer. In Matthew 26:25, he interacted with Jesus, feigning that he was not the betrayer. The other disciples may not have heard the interaction. Jesus identified Judas as the betrayer in this verse of Matthew. Jesus demonstrated love for his enemy.

We want to see Jesus with a semi-automatic weapon to take Judas out. That kind of movie feeds our flesh. But Jesus loved Judas.

What do you want?

If we fight against the conscience, we minimize our sin. Sin after sin after sin, we don’t feel bad after all. And God may remove His restraints on evil in our lives. Judas may have fought against the evil, but he succumbed to the temptation and betrayed Jesus.

Jesus reached to him with the bread. Judas knew that Jesus knew. Satan entered Judas. He betrayed him. Later, he had regrets. And he killed himself. Be careful when you think you know what you want, because we are so self-deceived.

What are we willing to get, and to what lengths are we willing to pursue to get what we want?

A lady answered a knock at her door. A sad man stood before her. He was collecting money for an unfortunate family in the neighborhood. They would be kicked out of their apartment, if they didn’t pay their rent to their landlord. The woman asked, “Of course, I will help. Who are you?” He responded, “I’m the landlord.”

Self-centeredness and love are opposites. Selfishness leads to the break-down of relationships. Judas’ life was destroyed.

What do you want?


What did Jesus want?

Jesus and Judas are opposites. Jesus had all of the power in the world, giving up the glories of heaven, living a modest life, putting Himself in harm’s way, weeping over Jerusalem, spending time, doing the hard relational work with His disciples, teaching them with compassion, constantly loving them, dying on the cross, freeing the prisoners, releasing the oppressed, declaring the way of the Lord.

We seek to get every jot and tittle right. Where does the Word say that? We don’t always get it right. But we follow the One Who is right.

Jesus warned His disciples not to turn away from Him. He didn’t come to betray us. Judas was his friend. Jesus quoted one of David’s Psalm, in which a close friend shared bread and lifted up his heel against him. There is no greater betrayal than when a friend betrays us. Jesus was grieving this betrayal.

What did Jesus want? He wanted us. He wanted us! Wow. What else could He have wanted?! Can you believe that?! He suffered everything, including death, so He could have us!

Do you believe that?

Nothing could dissuade Him. He would not be thwarted by the religious leaders, by Judas, nor by any sin we commit.

Have you seen Jesus?

What is it you want?

Jesus leads us to joy unspeakable. Our eyes cannot be on our selves. He is our true reward. All other rewards fade in comparison to Jesus. Do you want to settle for things other than Jesus? That’s shallow. Jesus is offering Himself.

What do you want?

If what you want is not Jesus, you might just get it. You might just get it.

And the regret of Judas will fall upon you.

Walter O’Malley once said that, quite unlike Hitler or The Rolling Stones or Hugh Hefner — who changed the world — Jesus did not give a message we wanted to hear. Take the last place! Forget yourself! Take up your cross! Follow me! These were the words of the Jesus.

He died, so we wouldn’t have to.

He was rejected, so we could be accepted.

This is Jesus, our God!

This is the Gospel!

And it changes everything!

Dr. Tim Elmore and Daniel Pink!

On Thursday-Friday, June 21-22, 2018, I attended the Growing Leaders Round Table for Principals in Atlanta, Georgia, headlined by speakers Dr. Tim Elmore, author of Marching Off the Map, and Daniel Pink, author of Drive and When. If you would like to read my summary of the conference activities, please read on. . . .

“Round Table for Principals”
Sponsored by Growing Leaders
Atlanta, Georgia

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal (All errors in these notes are mine alone.)

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Generation Z may ignore you, but you cannot ignore Generation Z. We are going to introduce you to ideas which will help you serve GenZ. Dr. Elmore seeks to equip young people as leaders for their generation. Educators need to connect with and empower this generation. We need to bridge the leadership gap between prior generations and GenZ. We value students, the strength of our schools, and the desire for excellent leadership. We must take notice of the changes of our times and our students.

Session 1

“A New Kind of Leader”
By Dr. Tim Elmore

I want to set the stage for the next day and a half. We need to engage a new style of leadership with changing times.

I present the “Leadership Secrets from the Land of Oz.”

In 1997, Reed Hastings sold his pet store. He and his wife wanted to celebrate the event.  He went to Blockbuster to rent a video. After viewing the movie, he lost the video. The fine was $40. He thought there must be a better way to rent movies. He thought about his work-out gym. He paid one fee. This man created Netflix. Have you ever seen a new idea, turned it down, and regretted the lack of action? Of course, you have. Good leadership doesn’t change, but how you deliver it may need to change.

Reed Hastings has set up a unique leadership culture.

The more responsibility people take, the more freedom they get.

He pays higher salaries than tech industry norms.

Team members can choose how much salary is paid in cash or in stock. How can K-12 schools be creative, in this regard?

Lead employees who don’t meet expectations are treated uniquely — with generous severance packages.

No vacation or sick days. Employees interact with their supervisors to work those issues out, based on relationship.

Reed meets with each new employee to discuss their roles and responsibilities in the culture.

How are we building these positive cultures in our schools?

Leadership Style Statements:

There is not just one right way to LEAD. Decades ago, there was 1 strong leader in an organization. If there are 100 people in this room, there are 100 ways to lead. I worked 15 years with John Maxwell. He was a “lead-follow-or-get-out-of-the-way” leader. I tried to imitate him. I should have been me. Be the best version of you to be the most effective leader in your school.

Great leaders will change styles but not PRINCIPLES. Effective leadership principles are timeless. Every great leader must have a vision. You’ve got to be good with people. You can’t just be a screen person. People need to know you love them.

Lasting leaders determine their styles by observing their PEOPLE. Read your people before you lead your people. Read the situation before leading the situation.

The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939. My daughter memorized all of the lines from the movie. This is a leadership movie! Dorothy started in a black-and-white flat land of Kansas. She was taken up in a tornado, landing in a colorful, zany world where anything can happen. We have moved from a black-and-white place to an extremely colorful world.

I have found at least three kinds of leaders in Oz:

The WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST was a manipulator. Have you ever served under a leader like that? They manipulate what they want done. People quit on manipulative leaders.

The WIZARD was not as bad as the Wicked Witch, but he led through intimidation. After he was discovered, people paid no attention to that man behind the curtain. This leader was a good person but not a good leader. This leader pretends. This leader may be misplaced — a teacher who was a great teacher but who is not a great leader.

DOROTHY exhibited the best leadership traits of anyone in the movie. Frank Baum wrote this story 100 years ago. He purposefully made this great leader a woman. “Wrong” time for women with the book. Wrong time for women with the movie. But she was a great leader. She didn’t have all of the answers. But she encouraged her team members to play their unique roles in the leadership journey. This is the kind of leader for whom the world is thirsting.

Habitudes are images which illustrate sound leadership principles. One of my Habitudes is “Dorothy’s Way.” The leader encourages team members. S/he plays point as a leader. We partner with 1,000 organizations in the country. I see this kind of leader in schools, athletic departments, colleges, and churches.

This leader balances. . . .

Toughness and tenderness.

Relationships and results.

An amazing mission, yet adaptable methods.

The professional and personal.

“Right” and relationships.

Have you been led by “Dorothy’s Way” leaders?

[We talked about this question in our table groups.]

Let’s step back into history. I want to give you some data. How did we get to this place that we need a new style of leader?

I have seen 6 common leadership styles in history.

In the 1950s (and before), we saw the Military Commander style. Very top-down. Leaders led; followers followed; and neither the twain would meet. It was almost always men. Education levels of employees were lower. Followers were willing to be told what to do. It was more of a blue collar time. The Key Value was LOYALTY. Leaders assumed loyalty. People stayed in organizations for 50 years. But you can’t tell everyone what to do in this era.

In the 1960s and 70s, the leader was a CEO. It was a tumultuous time. Everything was not fine in Saigon, no matter what President Johnson said. President Nixon resigned after scandal. People demanded someone other than the Military Commander. The Key Value was PRODUCTIVITY. The United States was expanding after World War II. McDonald’s was franchising. Shopping malls were popping up everywhere. People liked the vision, even if they did not like the leader.

In the 1980s, the style was leader as Entrepreneur. Interest rates were high. People sat in lines at gas stations. We wanted creativity. The Key Value was INNOVATION. Innovation has continued, but innovation was the name of the game for leaders in the 80s.

A new leader emerged in the 90s — leader as Coach. Leaders needed to be “touchable.” We liked player-coaches. User-friendly workplaces became the norm. Leaders became more real. The Key Value was TEAMWORK. Leaders needed to be people persons. Relational. The coach still told the players what to do during the game.

In the 21st Century, leaders became Connectors, signaled and paralleled by the Internet. A global economy emerged. Leaders became aware of connections to a much larger picture. The Key Value was PLATFORM. Leaders realized it was important to build an organizational platform. The word needed to be cast beyond the organization.

Further into this Century, we now see the Poet-Gardener as leader. This leadership style is within your reach. Your students long for this style in you as a Principal. People should flock to their Principals. People should want to be around you. The Key Values for the Poet-Gardeners are CONNECTION and GROWTH. These leaders come into a new place as listeners. They do not impose visions immediately. They bring teams together with complementary skills. Poems put into words the feelings we are feeling. Poets listen and wordsmith the vision, and the vision becomes not “theirs” but “everyone’s.” The gardener grows the plants in the soil, and this leader’s primary task is growing the people under his/her care. Your number one job is growing the people under your care. You’re a people developer. You can’t “make” gardens grow. You create a healthy environment where the garden can grow.

Years ago, I met a poet-gardener, a Naval leader, the captain of a ship. The sailors cheered over his predecessor’s departure. They were glad to see him leave. This new leader wanted not to experience this phenomenon when he eventually left. He sat down for 20 minutes each with all 300 of his people. He tapped-into the talents of his people, because he knew his people. Different ranks worked together. Teams came up with solutions. They implemented the ideas. They celebrated the victories with everyone getting a steak dinner. He took over the worst performing ship in the nation; in 7 months, it was the best performing ship, because the leadership had changed. One day, he had his entire crew painting the entire side of the ship. He asked how it was going. One sailor asked if the Navy had ever heard of stainless steel bolts. They went into the Home Depot, purchased 40,000 bolts, and implemented the idea. Everybody got a steak dinner! He wrote a book about his experiences in It’s Your Ship. Even in the military there is a new kind of leader, the Poet-Gardener.

Characteristics of Poet-Gardners:

They are HIGHLY RELATIONAL. You can still be introverted. You’ve got to value relationships.

They INTERPRET CULTURE well. These leaders keep their ears to the ground. What do kids need? What do teachers need? They are students of culture.

They are EMOTIONALLY SECURE. You’re taking risks. The culture is demanding. You’re receiving negative feedback. You’re cringing on the inside. But you’ve got to be emotionally secure. It’s too easy to get insecure and defensive.

They share OWNERSHIP FREELY. Not recklessly. Freely.

They EMPOWER OTHERS. This is a bit of 90s word, but they share their power.



They EMBRACE THE ROLE OF A MENTOR. You don’t self-declare as other people’s “Socrates.” But you must be seeking to develop others in the organization. This generation thirsts for mentors.

They are LESS FORMAL IN STRUCTURE. The culture has become more casual. Followers want “real.”

They are DRIVEN BY SERVICE MORE THAN EGO. Leadership is about serving a greater cause. I have been greatly impacted by Chick-fil-A leaders. In a motel room for a conference, the CEO once ironed every one of his employee’s shirts when he had complained about his wrinkled shirts the night before.

We live in a day that is LESS FORMAL and MORE AUTHENTIC.

We live in a day where people LONG FOR THE RARE COMMODITY of relationships.

We live in a day where good LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT EMPOWERMENT, not POWER.


Insights About Leadership Styles:



OUR SITUATION DETERMINES WHAT STYLE WE MUST EMPLOY. Read your situation before you lead this situation. In emergencies, a Military Commander style must be employed.


OUR STYLE MUST REFLECT THE MATURITY OF OUR TEAM MEMBERS. This makes sense, doesn’t it? Millennials bring stuff to the workplace. You get them ready for Poet-Gardener by employing a CEO or coaching style.

THIS NEW KIND OF LEADER COMMUNICATES WITH IMAGES AND RELATIONSHIPS. Habitudes are all about images. The images lubricate the friction.

TODAY’S EMERGING GENERATION IS ASKING FOR POET-GARDENERS. Six teenagers ran for Governor in Kansas this year. They want to be involved.

Talk at your tables. What shifts do you see in leadership styles? What leadership styles have you experienced?


There’s not enough time in the day. Peer pressure. Academics. How can we help students to take ownership of their lives? Habitudes help students to have social-emotional-spiritual conversations they might not otherwise have.

Session 2

“How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities”
By Will Parker, K-12 Education for 25 Years, Currently Working with Oklahoma Department of Education

I served as an English teacher before becoming an assistant principal and principal. I’m in a room full of heroes. You are the people who make the difference with teams who want to follow together.

I want to begin with a story. I lived in rural Tennessee. My father would set up a telescope and looking into the skies at night. Of course, you know that you can only see one side of the moon. The only way to see the backside is with a spaceship, satellite, or space telescope.

You have the privilege of seeing the backside of the moon. You are privy to parts of the people’s stories which you can’t share with others. That’s a privilege and responsibility of leadership. You need courage. We sometimes miss out on the opportunities to talk about things you can talk about. You’ve got to share the amazing feats of those in your organization, or you’re robbing people in your community. They are not seeing the backside of the moon. There is a lot that you can share. Your messaging matters.

Addressing Media Assumptions About K-12 Education:

Myth #1: U.S. test scores rank below international counterparts. However, demographic subsets place the U.S. above our counterparts. Typical comparisons from international schools include only the best and brightest.

Myth #2: In polling, parents give schools Ds and Fs. Model and break-through schools illustrate high rigor, relevance, and relationships in the U.S.

Myth #3: Schools are broken models. Gallup polls indicate A and B grades for their local schools.

Perception is not always reality. Yes, some schools are failing, but we cannot assume that all of our schools are failing. How do we respond? Messaging.

What Is Messaging?

Messaging is a mindset. The way you think affects how you see and communicate about your school.

Messaging is a platform for promoting what is happening in your school.

Message is the lens by which you display the overwhelming positives for students, teachers, parents, and community members. Overwhelm the negatives with the positives. Yes, we manage crises and negative situations, but you’ve got to change any negative tone with positive messaging. Drown-out the negatives with positives.

What are the obstacles to positive communication?

Challenges to consistency

A lack of intentionality

Not knowing about positives

How do you inspire your teachers?

I recently rowed with my boss on the Potomac in D.C. We were struggling. He said, “Why don’t we row together?” If you’re not rowing together with the people you’re leading, you will not reach your goals. You need strong, positive culture and strong communication. Students must want to be in your school. They will communicate with their parents when they feel otherwise (and, conversely, when the culture is strong). Do what’s best for students. You cannot have an us versus them mentality with students or parents.

You’ve got to collaborate. We cannot lead independently. We must lead through inter-dependence. You cannot lead in isolation. Messaging connects constituencies.

Communication is key. Or people will be isolated. You must express what is happening in your community.

People want a sense of community.

Let me get practical with you.

Positive Messaging:

Kudos E-Mails. You step into classrooms every day. Pause in your day, and intentionally send e-mail messages to the community. The teachers who were not visited will want you to recognize the great things that are happening in their classrooms as well.

Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are your friends. Capture still shots and videos of students in exciting learning situations. Students and parents use these applications. Harness these tools to get the word out about your schools. Cover your FERPA bases by having documentation from parents who do not want to have images or names of their students shared on social media. Hootsuite is an easy way to place social media feeds from one source. Build momentum by doing this every day.

Media Outlets.

What’s one strategy to try?

How do you motivate students? This generation has not known a world without the Internet, life before 9/11, constant news coverage of negative world events, employment mobility, and social media movements. You school must be welcoming, safe, and preparing them for their futures.

What makes a great classroom? What makes a great school? Welcoming. Visually attractive and stimulating. Ordered. Positive. Clear signage. Updated content in communication. Regular communication.

Jenny is a high school junior being raised by her grandmother. Jenny works a lot. She showed up on Day 1 of school. There was not much help through signage or people. She didn’t have a schedule. She shuffled into a line. She got a schedule. She walked late into a room. She was in the wrong classroom.

Billy stepped into a school. He had been oriented. He had met his teachers. Signs pointed him to the right place in the building. Student council kids were there welcoming him. A seating chart was on the smart board. He felt welcomed. He saw the name of the teacher and the name of the class in each classroom. There was structure. Engagement. Communication.

From Harry and Rosemary Wong’s First Day of Schools:

Students are asking questions:

Am I in the right room?
Where am I supposed to sit?
Who is this teacher as a person?
Will the teacher treat me as a human being?
What are the rules?
What will we be doing this year?
How will I be held accountable?

How about the teachers in the building?

Am I in the right area or place?
Where am I supposed to begin my day?
Who is my principal as a person?
Will the entire staff treat me as a human being?
What are the rules of the school?
What will we be doing this year?
How will I be held accountable?

Digital Tools to Connect with Students:

Promotionals: Powtoons or Biteable

A video featured inspirational wording with “This Is Your Life” as a backdrop.


MP3’s — Garage Band

What is a theme or motto your school can rally around?

What routines and rituals can motivate student enthusiasm?

What is one step fro providing a stronger platform for celebrating students?

How can students help drive celebrations?

Reach all of your communities, including coaches, food service personnel, bus drivers — EVERYONE in the community.

Here is my family. [He projected a photograph of his family on the screen.]. My son got a dangerous disease. We rushed him to the hospital. He could have died. He was given a powerful anti-biotic. He went into shock. He finally got the treatment. His health report is great now. But you can imagine, being a school leader, how difficult that was for 10 days. I saw the health care professionals do three things that I could apply to my school community.

A common goal united a group of diverse people. They had a common goal of saving my son’s life.

Team members knew their roles and executed them well.

Caring for people and reaching goals went hand-in-hand. They loved my son. He told me he missed the hospital when he got home. This was such a testament of the power of the people who cared for him. We went back to visit, with warm memories.

There are so many ways you can connect with your communities.

Mailchimp subscription to newsletters

Student-generated publications

WordPress blogging

Remind application for phones

Wall of Kindness: notes of positivity on Post-It notes. A bathroom wall became a wall of kindness. We celebrated the other side of the moon when the media wanted to cover this spontaneous event.

Be committed to positive messaging every day.

Growing Leaders has created a plan for social-emotional learning. We have resources for purchase.

Session 3

“A New Kind of Student”
By Andrew McPeak

One of my passions is to learn about and talk about the next generation. I have a job which allows me the time I need to read about students and how we can be effective in connecting with a new kind of student.

I have read so much, conducted 11 focus group meetings, and interacted with a great number of school people.

How much do you already know about Generation Z?

Do you know these images?

[He projected a number of icons for apps.]

Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Periscope, Netflix, Twitter, House Party, Reddit, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Plus, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr

Social media has not been around all that long. It exists today! And it consumes so much of our time!

I want to talk about three trends we are seeing, which will form the basis for a new book which Tim and I are going to write.



Today’s students have technology-fueled expectations. When they think about the world, everything comes through the lens of technology and social media.

I want to explore a different song — a really weird song — by Super Organism — “Everybody Wants to Be Famous.” Too much is happening. It’s multi-sensory. We can’t take it. She is the center of the visuals. She is obsessed with being famous. How are they going to do that? Through social media. They are looking for viral reactions.

“Gen Z isn’t tech-dependent; they’re tech-independent. To them, technology is invisible, but omnipresent.”

Ninety-six percent of high school students in the U.S. own a smart phone. And they use it differently than Millennials. Young people are using every social media site.

CNN did a documentary, “Being 13.” Some 13-year-olds daily check their media accounts 100 times a day for a total of 9 hours.

GenZ has a love-hate relationship with social media. “41% say social media makes them feel sad, anxious, or depressed,” but they’re not going to leave it.

Is this generation open to this conversation? Help them see the harms of social media and technology.

There is great pressure “being a certain way.” On social media, young people present themselves differently than their authentic selves.


Diversity and equality are key factors. Generation Z cares about these two issues.

I want to show you a music video which is the most watched video in 2018. “This Is America.” Glover paints a reality in the foreground and background. The video has a lot of violence in it. We’ll watch about 30 seconds of it. In the foreground, dancers are smiling and partying. In the background, utter chaos is occurring. “This Is America.” This is the America which GenZ is thinking about. People are having fun, and there is chaos everywhere.

This is the most diverse generation in American history. This is the first generation in which the majority is not white. We have to make space for discussions about diversity. There is a 400% increase in multi-racial marriages since the 1980s. We have to understand their perspective is diverse.

Their top social justice issue is equality. They’re thinking about racial and sexual issues. They are learning from people all over the nation (through social media).


This generation’s primary attitude is one of caution. They’re worried. There are physiological reactions to their worry in stress, anxiety, and depression. A song came out last week from Kanye West — “Reborn.” West and his other artist talk about their depression and suicidal thoughts. How do they deal with stress? “Moving forward.”


Poverty. 15% of this generation has grown up in poverty.

College. 46% of Gen Z say their biggest financial concern is college debt. They’re not even in college yet! The cost of college has increased 1,120% in the past 35 years! The students see those numbers, and they know they’re going to have to pay big dollars for their post-secondary educations. Those are real dollars and cents to them. Your high school students are going to be interested in how to save money.

Violence. School shootings have dominated the newscapes. As soon as these shootings happen, they know about it. This is sobering to me.

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. 72% say their peers are distracted by social meeting, and 58% are seeking relief from social media. We ask so much of them academically. Horrible things are happening all over the world. Their lives are so scheduled; they have no margin, and they “feel guilty” when they do something they enjoy. This shouldn’t be.

We have two choices. Tim and I have talked about this. There are two narratives, as we lead the next generation.

We can choose fear. “GenZ is in trouble.”

Or we can choose belief. “GenZ is our hope for the future.”

We see encouraging stuff from Gen Z — leadership promise when handed opportunity and responsibility. 77% of this generation want leadership opportunities in America. (The figure is 55% in Europe.).

I want to share an encouraging story on the heels of Hurricane Harvey this year. It was chaos. In the midst of that chaos, a young man named Virgil Smith, 13, who was living in an impoverished area of Houston. One of his friends was trapped in his house. Virgil was trapped in his house. Virgil found an air mattress. He swam to his friend’s apartment. He helped a lady in a wheelchair, rescuing her. She rescued the lady’s dog. At 2:00 a.m., he saved 17 people. He didn’t go around bragging to people. He continued to be the person he is. The school organized a surprise standing ovation for him at the beginning of his football practice. He had no idea. He had chosen kindness. He was heroic. The producers of Wonder donated money to his school and to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. It doesn’t matter where you come from. You can do great things! That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

Will we choose “all hope is lost,” or will we believe in them and find the Virgils in our school? These students have courage and desire to lead.

How do we connect with the next generation?

Talk about current issues. Help lead those conversations. At the end of their focus groups, they expressed appreciation that they had been asked about issues which are important to them. Care. Show you care. Provide wisdom and context for them.

Give them experiences that include a little risk in their lives. Call greatness out of them. Help them live-out the greatness which is inside of them.

Acknowledge their hurts. Give them hope. One in 10 college students have contemplated suicide. Acknowledge the hurt, but call them to hope.

Talk about this at your tables. Swap stories. Swap ideas.

How can you better connect with Generation Z?

Scott Harrison, Charity Water, is an incredible story.

Challenge them to be leaders now, not later.

Kindness Wall

Focus groups and town hall meetings

Create systems and contexts for students to curate their learning.

Challenge them to do hard things. They want to be challenged.



Flip the narrative. It’s not, “I’m working to the right point.” It’s “I start at the point and imagine the countless possibilities in the world.”

Earn trust every year. People don’t automatically trust you or remain loyal to you. Relationship, relationship, relationship.

[Andrew is sending a pdf of his slides to all roundtable participants.]

[Growing Leaders has a team of student speakers, Andrew, and Tim, if we’re interested in bringing one or more to our campus.]

My Table Mates from Greater Atlanta Christian School:

Rhonda Helms, Elementary Principal
Shane Woodward, High School Principal
Charles Edwards, Middle School Principal

Dr. Elmore:

Relevant educators use what is cultural to say what is timeless. Change the bottle to get the water to the students. The water is timeless. The methodology must change to meet the needs of students.

Session 4

“Educator Panel”
By Julie Diaz, 2018 Winner of the Growing Leaders Award, Principal, Travis High School
By Dr. Gary Davison, Principal, Lambert High School, North Atlanta
By Dorothy Parker-Jarrett, Principal, Summeraur Middle School

Gary, you have prioritized a healthy leadership culture. How did you start that?

I started a new school in the economic downturn of 2008. There was pride among neighborhoods. I went to the neighborhood clubhouses and churches. Could they bring their pride together into this single new school community? I formed student leadership teams. I asked students as young as second graders to be a part of the development team. We developed for student outcomes. Everyone got to weigh-in.

Julie, I love your story. You had built a great culture in a previous school. The superintendent plucked you up and brought you to another school. This is the Houston, Texas area. I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t a place you wanted to go. It was a “hug-a-thug” school. Discipline was a major issue. Disrespect was a huge problem. The superintendent said, “Just lead.” I started modeling good relationships. We listened to students. I had conversations with all of the teachers. What do we do well? What should we focus upon? What do you need from me? I did a 3-minute Habitudes talk on every Wednesday. The culture has been transformed.

Dorothy, talk about your school situation relative to social-emotional learning. There is a lot of diversity. The poverty is generational. I had aspired to be a high school principal. I had never had any middle school experience. But I knew what students needed to be able to do to be successful in ninth grade. We sought to change the culture of the school. We worked hard to hire teachers who looked like the students. I hired bi-lingual front office people. Forty-five languages are spoken at our school.

Gary, kick us off. Talk about the creative things you did which were transferrable to the audience. We wanted to with our core belief that kids will try over and over and over again, if they’re in a culture which is characterized by relationship and trust. We had a variety of staff members “handed to” our school. We sought a unifying theme: “We’re All in This Together.” We started that way. The staff who didn’t buy-in were asked to have “believe-in.” I told them I didn’t care about it they “taught” anything; I cared that the students “learned.” I asked them to come repeatedly at student achievement. Thirty-four staff members are still there. We just hired our 12th student to come back and work with us. It’s very elementary and simple. Love the kids. Tell them you love them. Do whatever it takes to learn. We learn better when we’re loved.

Julie, talk about outcomes. We started an advisory program (15 minutes of the school day). Every student is named, and every student is. claimed. We teach Habitudes. We have Habituesday. We use Josten’s materials. The year I got there we had 3,000+ discipline referrals. Last year, we were down to 900. We’re a very diverse school (25-25-25-25). We listen to the kids. We asked what we did well, what we could do better, what they can do, and what they needed from me. We started an AMBUSH program, with students teaching Habitudes lessons to the ninth graders. Think Ohio State colors. Our school was ugly. They cared about their environment. The students wanted to paint the school. It was going to be $180,000. Such was either a “roadblock” or “toll booth” (a Habitude). The students went to Sherwin-Williams. They got all of the paint donated and did all of the work! We put no ceiling on the kids. I was speechless. They organized and painted the entire downstairs of the school in 10 hours! The students solved the problem! Student leaders rose-up. The kids now take care of the building. Now, they want to do the bathrooms.

Dorothy, talk about outcomes you have enjoyed. We had done a Habitude lesson on “being the change you want to see.” Three girls made an appointment with me. They said, “Our lunchroom food is 100% healthy but 100% flavor-less.” They advocated change in a very professional presentation. They did such a great job. Now, ethnic Mexican Fruit Cups are in our lunch program. It was student-led and -driven.

Let’s talk about student leadership development.

Gary: We’re a high school of 3,000 students. There is anxiety and depression. The pressure is high. It’s a high-achieving school. But what do we do with students who struggle? In the high school schedule, there’s no time. Teachers each have 180 students on their rosters. How could we do something differently to serve the RTI (Response to Intervention) and special needs students? I asked the team to design a program. They looked at how we used our time. We were a traditional 7-period day school. We wanted to make a change. Two things couldn’t change — when students arrive and when they left. The proposal came back with an 8-period day and 1-hour lunch for “lunch and learn.” It seemed crazy. Fifteen hundred kids would be unsupervised for an hour! Our new hybrid schedule included two block days. Teachers now meet with struggling learners during lunch; the students know can get help in any subject. We had less than a 1% failure rate, which has dropped 900%.

Julie: AMBUSH is on its own now. (A group of tigers who come together are known as an “ambush” or streak.) I let my baby go. We did the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy. We did a huge Impact Project. Our students collected books for the children who had lost everything. We went out into our neighborhoods to help people whose homes were ravaged by the hurricane.

Dorothy: Will Parker’s 4 C’s resonated with me this morning. We need our communities. Rising sixth graders join with 7th and 8th graders to learn the campus, get previews on math and language arts, and work in our gardens. It’s students leading students, helping students transition to their new school. Community partners fund the program.

One last question: Comment on anything you haven’t had the opportunity to say.

Gary: The key of leadership development is establishing the culture. We, as leaders, need to be reflective, open, and honest. One of our best leaders was our head custodian. He asked his custodians every day, “What are we going to do today to make the learning better for teachers?” I learned from him. My job is to grow leaders. That is my primary responsibility. Such has led to innovation in our school. Fifteen of my assistant principals have gone on to become principals and superintendents.

Julie: People thought I would fail at Travis. I got to hire the head football coach. I needed him on my side. A number of teachers left. I hired people who wanted to learn (white belts, not black belts). I started with the kids. I modeled what I wanted. I went to the heart of the schools with the kids. The student advisory period was integral to cultural change. Kids pressured the reluctant teachers. You’ve got thoroughbreds and donkeys. Stroke your thoroughbreds. They are the people who are going to get the work done. We started small and then grew. We did beta testing — Wednesday’s words of wisdom — which went from audio to video and Habitudes. The kids started talking about the Habitudes. I had the kids. Advisory brought the teachers along.

Dorothy: Today, Andrew was talking about the two narratives. I choose communicating belief and hope to the students. With “over-aged” students at risk of dropping out of high school, we take students through an innovative program which accelerates their learning, so they’re back on-track.


Gary: I take an hour walk every day to do “feedback walks,” after which I offer feedback to others. I’m paid to have fierce conversations with people; you’ve got to be willing to have them; if you don’t, the kids will suffer.

Session 5

“Creating a Compelling Organizational Culture: The Secret Sauce”
By Dee Ann Turner, Vice-President, Talent Development, Chick-fil-A

[Dee Ann has recently authored It’s My Pleasure.]

It was 10:45 on a Saturday night. Jimmy Collins, President of Chick-fil-A, picked up the phone. Scott, the new franchisee, said he had good news and bad news. Sales were fantastic! But the store was out of chicken! We were out of chicken as a chicken restaurant?! The store leader had quit. The franchisee of a new store was chicken-less and leaderless. Jimmy said, “I’m so glad you’re there to handle it!” And he hung up the phone.

I tried to think of the equivalent in your world. Scott knew what to do. What were the principles he employed to deal with this challenge?

Four Elements:

Purpose. Start with the why. Creating an extraordinary culture requires starting with INTENTIONALITY and VISION. We started in 1946 in Georgia. Truett had that 1 restaurant for several years. He incorporated in 1964. The next restaurant started in 1967. Chick-fil-A had its first slump in sales in 1982. He had built the new headquarters. He was heavily in debt. What do companies do in such situations? Cut costs. Reduction-in-force. Truett had to figure out what to do. He took all of his leaders off on a retreat. Truett’s son, Dan, 22, asked why they were in business at all. We came up with “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” That’s the why. The purpose was carved in metal and affixed to a slab of granite. No slumps have ever again occurred. The retention rate of franchisees is 95%. Decide what your why is for you personally — for your entire team.

Mission. What are we here to do? Extraordinary cultures thrive on mission. Be remarkable. Be remarkable with the food, service, and dining experiences. This applies to what you should be doing in schools. The taste should be good. The food is safe. You get your order fast. People are friendly. The experiences should be remarkable, too. Think about Legos. Lego is now more than blocks; there are Lego experiences. Create remarkable experiences in your schools. Because of our successes, our competitors upped their game. So we had to come up with new experiences — i.e., Daddy-Daughter Date Night at Chick-fil-A. Little girls get dressed up for a five-star experience. They can ride in a limousine or horse-drawn carriage in the parking lot. Each girl could get a flower. There may be a strolling violinist or saxophonist. There are conversation starters for Dads. That’s our mission — to be remarkable. Do you think those girls ever forget those nights?! What if you were offering remarkable experiences?! How do you measure when you’re accomplishing it?

Core Values. Determine your core values in advance. These are compelling and fundamental beliefs and behaviors of the organization. The Core Values of Chick-fil-A are excellence, integrity, loyalty, and generosity. You shouldn’t have too many core values. They need to be memorable. And they need to be demonstrated by everyone, especially the leader. We want excellence in all that we do. The exit ramp coming off the highway to our headquarters was littered with garbage from traffic; Jimmy, our President, would stop his vehicle and clean everything up for the municipality. Then, our maintenance staff, did it. There are still guys cleaning that exit ramp. It’s a Core Value. The stories need to be told. Also — integrity — doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. We close on Sunday. When he ran his first restaurant, Truett was tired after 6 days of work. He took Sunday off. And none of the restaurants have opened on Sunday ever since. But we opened in a lot of shopping malls, which challenged Truett, and Sunday was the busiest days for some shopping malls. Truett stuck to this Core Value. It was a conviction of Truett. Chick-fil-A did as much business in 6 days as the other mall restaurants did in 7. It became a non-issue. Truett knew he would have lost his integrity if he had opened 7 days a week. People are as loyal to you as you are loyal to them. Our store leaders and employees know the names, stories, and orders of their customers. When Truett got even more successful, he never forgot the names and stories. He was loyal to them because they were loyal to him. At Chick-fil-A, you can make a mistake, because we developed a long and rigorous selection process of our store leaders. If an employee isn’t performing, it’s important for headquarters to help. What had we done to help? Truett would say, “Try again.” Generosity. The operator agreement itself illustrates the point of generosity beautifully. The fee to join Chick-fil-A is nominal.

Extraordinary guiding principles. Closed on Sunday. Make second mile service second nature. Be privately held and family owned. Treat everyone with honor, dignity, and respect. That’s where “My pleasure” comes from.

Genuinely care.

Seek far-reaching impact.



Core Values

Guiding Principles

That’s the “secret sauce.”

What happened to Scott?

We don’t know what happened. Jimmy didn’t ask. Scott knew what to do. That store is still open today. He found the chicken. He found a leader. He solved the problem. Hire and develop people so you can sleep at night. Say, “I’m glad you’re there to handle it.”


How do you make emotional connections with customers? It’s not just transactional. Don’t be prescriptive. We no longer prescribe the use of large pepper grinders. Know the stories of your customers. We said, “Figure it out.” It’s not just about pepper grinders. In the midst of the crisis of Hurricane Harvey, one of our store leaders in Houston got into a boat with breakfast burritos, because that’s what his regular customer had ordered, and that’s emotional connection.

[Chick-fil-A gifted each roundtable participant with a gift card and copy of her book.]


The Greatest Showman. “Come Alive.” Light your light. Let it burn so right. Dream with your eyes wide open. Don’t hide your face. Get out of the shadows. Reach up to the sky.  Come one! Come all! You hear the call! Break free!

Session 6

“Habitudes for Life-Giving Leaders”
By Dr. Tim Elmore

P.T. Barnam was a showman. He breathed life into people others dismissed.

I want to talk to you about “life-giving leaders.” Some of you might use the term, servant leadership. Life-giving leadership connotes breathing life into others. People become energized.

I’m going to introduce new Habitudes today. We anchor big ideas in pictures.

I am a small town kid from Danville, Indiana. These are some of the greatest places to visit. The food is always good. Everyone knows everybody. And you can find some of the most interesting road signs. We’ve taken pictures of some over the course of decades:

Slow down, or die.

Caution. Water on Road During Rain.

Detour to College. (Spelled detuor)

Beware the balcony is not at the ground level.

Secret Nuclear Bunker

AmIGone Funeral Home

Eat Here. Get gas.

Don’t let worries kill you. Let the church help.

Why did I show those signs to you?

I started teaching high school and college students, but I had not been taught about leadership. I was in the dark, groping. It was a long, dark, winding road with lots of potholes — with zero road signs. There is a great need for road signs on the leadership journeys of students.

As an art major, I came up with pictures to illustrate learning principles. I used these images to teach students, and they remembered the principles. Our next set of Habitudes will pertain to life-giving leadership. I review these ideas, and I need these ideas.

Image One


Two obvious leaders emerge on the field at football games. The referees are keeping control of the game. The other obvious leader is the quarterback. Every Super Bowl team has an incredible quarterback. We love watching the quarterback. Referees are needed. As I get older, I start throwing flags and making corrections. Quarterbacks provide leadership. Life-giving leaders equip quarterbacks to lead. Be careful that you don’t drift toward the spirit of a referee.

Referees call penalties. Quarterbacks make progress.

Referees are about information. Quarterbacks are about inspiration.

Referees count players on the field. Quarterbacks empower players on the field.

Referees are all about downs and rules. Quarterbacks are all about delegation and results.

Referees keep the ball in bounds. Quarterbacks move the ball forward.

Referees’ aim is to control the players. The quarterback’s aim is to connect with players.

The referees’ goal is maintenance. The quarterback’s goals is the mission.

I went to a soccer game. The coach had all of the right principles. She explained the purposes. She never lost her quarterback mindset.

One of last year’s 21-year-old Growing Leader interns made the comment that she had turned into a referee as editor of her college newspaper. She had gotten to a point of addressing only the errors in proof copies. I hope this haunts you. Are you a quarterback or referee? Your faculty needs a quarterback saying, “We’re moving the ball down the field.”

Sadly, leadership can become about refereeing, not empowerment.

Be transparent and candid with each other.

I want to show you a quarterback. Chris Hogan works at a small Christian school in Texas. He teaches. He coaches. He’s chief cook and bottle washer. One year, his football team played the local juvenile detention center’s team. Hogan had a game plan in mind, and it had nothing to do with football. He sent an e-mail requesting that his fans cheer for these inmates. These young men’s parents would not be at the game. This community “gave.” They made a spirit line for the players to run through. The fans booed bad calls against the visiting team! The home team “won.” But the “losers” celebrated! It gave these young men hope. That’s a quarterback mindset. That was not in a playbook.

In what area of your life have you migrated to a referee mindset? How about your leadership at school — quarterback or referee?

Another Habitude: THREE BUCKETS

As a leader, I am. . .

. . .IN CONTROL. I’ve got to take responsibility. It’s your move. Make a move. You are liberated when you take action.

. . .OUT OF MY CONTROL. I’ve got to trust the process.

. . .WITHIN MY INFLUENCE. I need to respond wisely. I can do something, but I can’t do everything.

Trouble comes when I place people in the wrong buckets.

Life-giving leaders place each experience in the right bucket.

When you get it right, there is peace.

The truth is. . .

Leadership angst often stems from placing experiences in the wrong bucket.

This principle causes trust issues and control issues to surface. Don’t seize control of things that are outside your control.

The most common leadership sin is placing people in the wrong buckets.

I love what John Maxwell said to me once: “The more concerned you become with things that you can’t control, the less you will do to improve the things you can control.”

Do you remember the 2009 Atlanta Public School Scandal? A “marvelous” group of people had been cheating, erasing answers on standardized tests to improve scores. They failed to own the problem and initiate removal of faculty and principals quickly. The leaders did not take control of the situation. They tried to hide the problem, deflecting attention away from 44 of the 56 schools. They tried to spin the story on social media, instead of trusting that truth would prevail. The number one victim was the students. We adults mess things up when we mess up the buckets.

Where is it most difficult to get this bucket thing right?


Have you noticed that shows about surgeons and vampires have picked up?! Vampires started with silent black-and-white films. Vampires are perpetrators. Think about surgeons. They take blood. They take blood differently than vampires. Surgeons plan to take the blood and bring healing to the person.

This Habitude relates to giving feedback. We can be vampires when we give feedback. If we don’t have stuff right in our own lives, we’ll vent with others and take blood away from others. There’s a right way and a wrong way to draw bloods. We’ve got to learn how to confront. Criticism must be redemptive.

Do some self-evaluation. Have you ever been criticized by a vampire?

Have you ever been offered hard feedback from a surgeon?

When I am a vampire, I am thinking about me, I may use sarcasm and hyperbole, I look backward, I am consumed with what I get, I attack a person’s character, and it’s short-term gain for long-term pain.

When I am a surgeon, I am thinking about you, I will be careful and accurate, I look forward to healing in the future, I am consumed by what I give, I only remove the cancerous problem, and I hopefully achieve short-term pain for the sake of long-term gain.

What’s behind my comments? Do I offer feedback out of relief or belief? Are you relieving your anger? Or are you having the conversation out of belief in a better way?

Ivy League research was done with middle school students. Helpful feedback increases performance by at least 40% in students. “I’m giving you these comments because I have high expectations of you, and I know you can do them.” We too often browbeat students.

Jim Sportinger was the Principal of an alternative high school in Walla Walla, Washington. The school had a reputation for high-risk kids, disciplinary actions, and suspensions. He took all of the disciplinary problems. He was a surgeon, not a vampire. His life-giving style dropped suspensions by 85%. How’d he do it? He motioned for students to have a seat. The room was calm and quiet. He brought no emotion to the situation. He gave them time to calm themselves. He would say, “Wow. What happened in there doesn’t sound like you — at least not the you I’ve come to I know. Are you okay? What can I do?” Then, 90% of the time, he heard the issues which led to the misbehavior. Deal with root issues. Get the cancer out. Jim had redemptive conversations with each student. Students would return and express remorse to those they had offended.

What have you noticed that surgeons do when they give tough feedback? Actions, tones, words? What’s one change you could make to be more like a surgeon?

A Final Habitude: The Golden Gate Paradox

This bridge was finished in 1937. Construction started in 1934. The unskilled workers were afraid of being on the scaffolding. They believed they were playing Russian Roulette. They asked if a net could be placed beneath them. The foreman was concerned about his timeline. He decided to use a net for the first time in history. They spent a lot of money to build this very large net. The bridge actually got built faster and under budget. The net beneath the workers helped them focus on their work. Are there safety nets you can place beneath your people? We live in a very unique time. Our stress levels are high. We leaders need to place safety nets around the school. Communicate to your students, parents, and staff that these safety nets are in place.


How can we help students work through their stress?

In July, we are releasing an eBook with do-able solutions to the problem of student stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide. We need to start talking to students about focus, rather than multi-tasking. Margin is huge. One school chose how to use “free” time during the schedule — for learning support, yoga, chapel, etc. during 20 minutes prior to lunch. Host focus groups in your school about the issues which are most important to the students — stress, social media, fear of missing out, sexting, harassment, etc. Listen and learn about the issues of stress.

What makes for a strong team culture?

Embrace and value a culture of candor among your team. There must be safety and trust. Model the desired behaviors. If there is an issue, address it immediately, with direct and specific feedback. No one should wonder whether s/he is doing a good job. Leaders ground conflict and anger on behalf of their teams.

What area do you need to “fix” in 2018-2019?

Thank you for being such a great group today.

Tomorrow, Daniel Pink will talk about how to apply his newest book, When.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Session 7

“Marching Off the Map”
By Tim Elmore

“Be not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep. Be afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” (Alexander the Great)

Organizations rise and fall on leadership. Lions take new territory.

I have been studying Alexander the Great for the past 3 years. I took the phrase, “Marching Off the Map,” from Alexander the Great. He was mentored by Aristotle. He assembled 3 armies and conquered the known and unmapped worlds. He transformed soldiers into mapmakers.

We can’t just trod around territories where we’ve been before. We’ve got to discover more lakes, rivers, mountains, and plains in education.

I want to nudge you to — this next school year — take some risks you might not otherwise have taken. If I just scared you, you’re normal. Human beings are afraid to march into new territories. We feel good about our strengths and what we have already mastered. Remember the colorful old maps. In the upper-left-hand corner of this ancient map pictures a serpent eating a ship. [Dr. Elmore projected the image on the screens.]

It seems like to me there are two kinds of leaders today:

You are either a pioneer, or you’re the settler. For every 1 pioneer, there are usually 10 settlers. I’m nudging you to be a pioneer. High school and college students see educators as too often Settlers. These students don’t believe they are prepared for their futures.

Today’s adolescents have different experiences than past generations:

They’re the first generation that doesn’t need ADULTS to get INFORMATION. As you’re presenting information, they will fact-check you on their devices, if the devices are available.

Today’s adolescents are the first generation that is CONNECTED but POOR AT RELATIONSHIPS. I don’t blame them. We created that world. That’s why we need to concentrate on social-emotional learning.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, adolescents today have the SAME LEVEL OF ANXIETY as a PSYCHIATRIC PATIENT DID IN THE 1950s. The number one word they use to describe themselves is “overwhelmed.” As Andrew mentioned yesterday, 1 in 10 have contemplated suicide. How do we create a sense of peace for students? I think there’s a way.

How do we reduce the stress levels?

Next month, we will be releasing an eBook with 5 specific things we can do to resolve the anxiety of young people. We’ll get that eBook to you.

Our culture has fostered artificial maturity in students. Their maturity looks real, but it’s not real.

Young people are OVER-EXPOSED to information earlier than they’re ready. 90% of pre-school students are now online with devices! That’s not the end of the world, but coupled with the next point, they are under great pressure.

They are UNDER-EXPOSED to first-hand experiences later than they’re ready. When I was a kid, we all had jobs in our teens. Today’s teen is too busy to work. Nothing takes the place of a real-life experience. It’s not their fault. They were born in this time. But we need to introduce more experiential learning — more problem-based and project-based learning. Internships are effective real-world experiences. The learning needs to feel “real” to them.

Artificial maturity in students shows up in the following ways:



Upper School leaders should be conversing with Lower School and Early Education leaders to determine unhealthy roots of younger students which grow and flower at middle school and high school. We should have a common language and understanding of the issues.

We’ve got to work with parents to assist with these issues.

These problems are often an outcome of systems errors; we concentrate so much on academic achievement that we lose sight of the importance of social, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Stress is a part of the world. Some stress is good for growing stamina and perseverance muscles.

Some of these issues have been modeled by these students’ parents. It’s a societal issue.

Stress has contributed to greater levels of student absences. [Staff absences?] Students miss school and then get stressed by the make-up work.

Everything demands the souls of students, i.e., academics, sports, clubs, work, etc.

Sometimes, the problems outside the walls of schools make themselves into the school buildings.

Sleep deprivation is a big issue. Students being on devices in the afternoon and evening is contributing to sleep deprivation. They often delay work on homework until they believe they have exhausted their device use.

The college admissions process also drives some of this stress. Kids are trying to build their college profiles for admission. And they’re stressed. The good profile may be sabotaging the healthy life of the kid.

Margaret Mead is arguably the most famous sociologist in history. She believed in three eras of human society:

A POST-FIGURATIVE SOCIETY. The grown-ups dictated to children, i.e., spouses, jobs, traditions. Tradition was king.

A CO-FIGURATIVE SOCIETY. We entered the modern age. The adults and children figured out things together. Children might have a say in marriage, work, traditions. Our nation was birthed during this era. Reason became king.

Today’s world is a PRE-FIGURATIVE SOCIETY. We are moving into a rapid period of learning, during which the young know where the world is going, rather than the adults. We’re leading schools at a time when the students believe they have a greater intuition than their parents. That’s why we see a growing population of students making the decision about their schooling.

A Reality Educators Must Address with Students:

A psychiatrist in the 1950s and 1960s introduced the terms, internal and external locus of control. This is a reality educators need to address prior to the new school year.

INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL: Students believe they are responsible and in control of their outcomes in life.

EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL: Students believe that fate or external forces control the outcomes in life.

Even though we can agree that life is full of events inside and outside our control, the most successful students have a good sense that they are in control of their outcomes in life. The data shows that we’re trending toward students believing life is operating from an external locus of control. Some parents are controlling their lives so much that the students believe they have no control. My Dad always told me, “It’s up to you.”

What does this external locus of control foster?

A FIXED MINDSET instead of a GROWTH MINDSET. Coaches, you know you don’t win championships with student-athletes dominated by an external locus of control.

Increased ANXIETY and DEPRESSION. When I have control, I feel less stress. When my life is in someone else’s hands, I get anxious and depressed.

Irresponsible PERSPECTIVES that BLAME OTHERS FOR RESULTS. Students will not take responsibility for their poor choices, projecting blame to others.

Talk at your tables for 5-7 minutes. Throw out ideas. What have you observed among students today? What are you doing to address these issues?

Kids have to know what’s in it for them. So many options lay before students.

Give students opportunities to engage in problem-solving skills.

Convince students that you want them to be the best version of themselves, and any decisions by school personnel is for that intent.

Teachers have to convince students that the information in their classes moves beyond what they could otherwise Google.

Solutions to These Challenges

The greatest solution lies with METACOGNITION.

In the 1990s, I was mentoring college students in San Diego, California. In an e-mail message, I thought I had indicated that I would prepare for a learning activity. I had mis-typed U for I in “U can do this.” I had unwittingly empowered my students. They were VERY prepared for the class.

Metacognition is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. It’s essentially thinking about thinking. I believe metacognition is the secret and driving motivation behind all effective learning. It’s essentially forced reflection. Flipped learning has metacognition at its roots. The traditional school system works against metacognition. The teacher is getting paid to talk! Typically, the teacher as “personal trainer” says, “I want you to make sure you learn health and fitness, so stand back and watch as I lift all of the weights for you.”

The Classrooms in Your School

Traditional Pedagogy: Students are outcomes; teachers are commanders; and this pedagogy fosters complacency.

Transformational Pedagogy: Students are creators; teachers are consultants, and the students are digging for their own learning; and this pedagogy fosters contribution of the students.

The very first Division I football program we worked with was The University of Texas. Mac Brown was the coach. Texas had heard about Habitudes. We created Habitudes for athletics. We talked about metacognition. Texas put many of their players in charge of their practices. Colt McCoy, the quarterback, took more control and owned performance in practices and games.

Leave more responsibility in the hands of students.

When we practice metacognition, it results in. . .





Recently, I spent a day at West Point. During that day, I got to talk to officers, sit in classes, and observe “The Thayer Method.” This is a 200-year-old pedagogy. Classrooms are flipped. Instructors are not allowed to lecture. Learning is 100% activity-based. Desks are in squares, facing inward. Students “teach themselves.” They own their learning. The instructors were asking questions about life-and-death situations. It’s not about GPA. It’s about WAR! Introduce The Thayer Method to your faculty.

I have drawn 8 conclusions about effective learning:

Students SUPPORT what they help CREATE. How can you give ownership of a subject by letting students direct the learning?

Students learn better when they expect to TEACH what they learn. This is the essence of “The Thayer Method.” Don’t you learn more when you teach?! My friend George is a college professor who now has his students prepare each other for final examinations; grades have soared as they actually engage their peers. What portions of your topic of ideas can you assign students to teach to peers?

Students are INCENTIVIZED if they know the topic is relevant before-hand. Start with the “why” before even the “what.” How can you share the why behind the what before you teach a subject?

Students bond with an EXPERIENCE more than with a LECTURE. Create experiences for students. In North Gwinnett, student leadership development is a huge priority. The assistant principal meets with a student leadership cadre to critically evaluate what is happening on their high school campus. The students write a curriculum for the new student orientation. The students train mentors. The students teach the new students. Students evaluate the main struggles of students. (Watch the Brene Brown TEDTalk on emotional vulnerability.) The adults act as advisors to the students, who are doing the lion’s share of the work. In what ways can you create an experience from which students can learn?

Students absorb more when more than two SENSES are involved. Sight, sound, touch, smell, etc. Finnish students have grasped and retained more when they didn’t merely listen to lectures, but when they touched, smelled, tasted, and saw the topic in class. How can you cultivate an environment that includes all five senses of the students?

Students understand a larger percentage when they must PRACTICE it. Students learn best “just in time,” not “just in case.” When students immediately apply their learning practically, they learn it best. As a rule, application accelerates learning. How can homework be expanded into enabling students to actually apply the topic?

Students connect with a SUBJECT when allowed to connect with others. Decades ago, Russian psychologists taught that learning occurs best in community — that we learn better in circles than in rows. Life change requires “life exchange.” When could you incorporate smaller discussion communities in your classroom?

Students remember data when an IMAGE is utilized in their learning. A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s the reason we created the Habitudes, images that form leadership habits and attitudes. Pictures are handles for data. How can you leverage a visual, metaphor, or image to anchor your big idea?

Download the free white paper from our website — “In Other Words.”

Talk in your groups for 20 minutes about those 8 statements.

Session 8

“Is Timing Everything? 4 Lessons for Educators”
By Daniel Pink, the Author of A Whole New Mind, Drive, and When

Good morning!

I live in Washington, D.C. When you say, “Good morning” to someone in D.C., they say nothing; if they do, they say, “What do you mean by that?”

I’ve teased-out 4 lessons directly relevant to educators.

I investigated this topic of “when,” because I was having so many problems with timing in my life. I started looking around for guidance. I found little guidance. But there was a huge amount of research spread across multiple disciplines. The academics were asking similar questions. But they didn’t talk to each other. They were not “pracademics.” What’s the effect of time of day? How do we think about time? I wanted to find evidence-based ways of making decisions in my life.

Let me tell you what I found.

We think of timing as an art. But timing is really a science. We must make decisions on the basis of data.

I asked and addressed many questions in Why:

When should you exercise — early or late?

Why should you never schedule a medical appointment in the afternoon?

Why does beginning your career in a recession depress your earnings 20 years later?

Why are basketball teams trailing by one point at halftime more likely to win than those leading by one point?

Why are you most likely to run your first marathon at 29, 39, 49, or 59? When you get to the end of a decade, you kick a little harder!

When during the year is your spouse most likely to file for divorce? Watch out for August.

So what research is directly relevant to running schools?

Here are my 4 points for you, as educational leaders:


The hidden pattern of the day profoundly affects student performance.

Researchers in different field are finding out these exact-same things.

I’ll give you 2 studies on mood and 2 studies on performance.

We can now make sense of ginormous amounts of data. This is a big deal. We have tools to sift through this information, which is akin to the invention of the microscope 300 years ago. There are patterns in our world we cannot see without data analysis tools.

For instance, the Liguistic Inquiry Word Count program allows researchers to analyze all of the novels of Ernest Hemingway to determine patterns in tense, construction, dialogue, setting.

Two researchers at Cornell University analyzed 500,000,000 tweets — half a billion tweets. 2.4 million users. 84 countries. They analyzed the emotional levels of the words.  Tweets are time stamps. Emotional content of the words changed over the course of the day. There was a peak, a trough, and a recovery. The pattern is up, down, and up again.

A psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics analyzed the key episodes of people’s lives, and how they were feeling about these episodes. They charted hundreds of people. There was a peak. There was a trough. There was a recovery. Up, down, up. Up, down, up.

We care about moods, and we also care about performance.

Let’s talk about students in Denmark. They take their standardized tests on computers. There are more students than computers. So everyone cannot take the tests at the same time, and they are randomly assigned to their testing slots. Some take the tests early in the day and some later in the day. It’s a natural research project. Does the time of day have an effect on student performance? For every hour of the day the tests are delayed, the test performance went up. We make decisions about placement of kids in classes based on this data!

In Los Angeles, an analysis of 2,000,000 test scores, schedules, and GPAs of elementary school students determined that having math during the first 2 periods of the school day, instead of the last 2 periods, increased the math GPA of students, as well as their performance on standardized tests.

I am dead-serious. Do not go to the doctor’s office or schedule a surgery in the afternoon! My younger daughter just finished her year of college. She is not getting her wisdom teeth out any other time than the morning! Anesthesia errors are 3 times as possible at 3:00 p.m. than 9:00 a.m.! Hand-washing practices of health care professionals are neglected in the afternoon, which creates infections costing Americans money, time, and sometimes their lives. Doctors find half as many polyps in the afternoon than in the morning through colonoscopies, because they are in an afternoon trough.

Your jobs are so difficult. You’re dealing with so many constituencies, none of whom are always happy all of the time.

Our cognitive abilities change over the course of the day. Period. That’s a big deal. I wish someone would have told me that earlier in my life! We are biological creatures on variable emotional and cognitive landscapes.

Your Daily When

We move through peak, trough, and recovery during a day.

About 15% of us are strong morning people (larks). About 15% are strong evening people (owls). Another two-thirds are a combination. Education probably selects the larks more than owls. Owls reach their peak in the evening.

During our peak, we are more vigilant. We can battle distraction. We should do analytical work at this time. Analyzing data. Writing a report.

During our trough, the time is not good for very much in the afternoon. Here is when we should be doing administrative work. Answering routine e-mails. We don’t need to do a lot of analysis.

During our recovery, we should be seeking insight problems. Brainstorming.

If you’re an owl, it’s more complicated. But systems in schools are difficult for owls.

That’s the design principle based on a rich body of evidence. Here’s the problem. We don’t do this!

I’m a writer. I should write in the morning. The greatest enemy of writing is distraction. I should do that work when I’m highest in vigilance. But we get distracted. E-mail. Hunger for a snack. Twitter. ESPN. It’s lunch time! I haven’t done my main work.

If you think I’m bad, think about this country’s organizations. When do we schedule meetings? When people are available. When rooms are available. Shouldn’t we determine what we want to accomplish during the meeting it is before we schedule it?! We don’t take the questions of when seriously enough, and this has an effect on people’s lives.

Beginning conditions matter a lot. The earlier a kid gets a world-class education, the better his life over the long-run. Doing this wrong especially hurts lower-income kids than higher-income kids.

This is about intentionality. We have curriculum, hiring practices, professional development. When it comes to the when, we don’t think of it intentionally. But it matters!

Time-of-day effects can explain 20% of the variance in human performance on cognitive tasks. We can do something about that!

Here are the take-always:

Be much more deliberate and intentional about the when of learning. Scheduling isn’t just about convenience. It’s also about performance.

Where possible, especially with elementary school students, move analytic work to the morning.


We underestimate the power of breaks.

Here’s a chart of parole judges’ decisions in Israel. [Daniel Pink projected a chart on the screen.] Judges are more lenient after taking a break, i.e., late-morning after a break, mid-day, and early-afternoon. This is alarming! People appear at random times, and their fate depends upon the length of prior hearings.

The science of breaks is where the science of sleep was 15 years ago. People who didn’t sleep were previously seen as rock stars. Now, we see those people as idiots who hurts their own performance and other people’s performance. Breaks are extraordinarily important to performance.

Danish kids took 20-30 minute breaks, and test scores improved average test scores. Give your kids a quick break and exercise prior to standardized tests.

We know a lot about breaks now. Something means nothing. Even a micro-break helps. Tiny breaks can improve performance. Fight for your breaks. Moving beats stationary. Social beats solo; break with other people. Outside beats inside; nature replenishes extraordinarily. Fully detached beats semi-detached. Talk about something else other than work. That all sounds like recess!


Don’t think of breaks as deviation from learning. Think of them as part of learning. Breaks are a part of work. Athletes know this.

Schedule breaks the way you’d schedule anything else that is important. You need to engage in self-care. Be less in self-denial. Breaks are a big part of your self-care and performance. You’ll serve your teachers and students better.

Fight for recess, not as a nicety, but as a necessity. Of course, we need breaks to help students feel better and learn more. Adding recesses boosts test scores. We add recess in the name of rigor.

Give teachers a break. No breaks contribute to teacher burn-out.


I’m a writer. I like to read widely in fiction and non-fiction. I read a lot of magazines. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention pointed to a phenomenon which was affecting health and even morbidity of teenagers. Starting school early was the issue. This is a big deal. Beginnings matter more than we realize. Beginning school early is an exceptionally bad idea.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement which indicated that school should not start earlier in the day than 8:30 in the morning.

Our chronotypes change. Younger kids can learn well earlier in the morning. Chronotypes change at adolescence. It’s not because they’re lazy. They’re teenagers! Their chronotypes are biological and inevitable, hurting their academic performance. We should be starting school later. You could start school at 9:15 or 9:30. This is incredibly controversial! We typically do not mess with beans (lunch), basketball (athletics), and buses (transportation).

Lower drop-out rates, higher test scores, less depression, fewer car accidents, and cost-effectiveness are the results, and the effects are stronger for struggling learners. The evidence is overwhelming. It’s not a close call.


End the madness.

Seriously, end the madness.


Synching kids are thinking kids.

Research by Oxford University focused on young children being taught to play rhythmic games. Children on the same swing set were synched and not synched. Children who were in sync — in unison — were happier and more open to play with kids not like them — and more open to helping the teachers — and were physiologically more healthy and able to deal with pain. You can’t fake the physiological.

Choral singing boosts all of these psychological and physiological benefits! Exercise boosts our mood and sensitivity. Exercise wins the gold. Choral singing wins the silver. It is so good for you on every dimension of your live. Meditation is really good for you, winning the bronze.

When we synchronize with other people, we have incredible positive effects.


Understand the core principle; synchronizing with others makes us feel good and do good.

Encourage younger children to play synchronous games in the. classroom and on the playground.

More schools should have choir! Use choirs not only to teach music but to build community.


One of my teachers starts with worship. Kids raise their hands. I go every morning. What a great way to start my day. The kids bond. Faith-based schools do this. Group singing is a part of this.

Any data about the effects of breaks for secondary students? There’s not a lot of research on high school.

Have your students eat outside, if possible.

There is unequivocal research on breaks. How we apply that research in schools varies. Educators need to act more like scientists. I’d be stunned to learn that high school breaks wouldn’t be advantageous.

[We all received a copy of his his book, When.]

Closing Session

Tim Elmore

Wasn’t that good and rich? Dan did exactly what we needed. Please take his ideas — and his book — back to your schools, and try even one new idea. Insert margins in the day. One high school in Georgia added 20 minutes before lunch for “recess” (essentially). The same high school changed from a 7:30 start to the 8:25 start, and it has “made a huge difference.”

I have loved being with you during these two days. Thank you for carving these days out during a busy month. If there is any way we can serve us, let us know. We really want to serve you. It’s not a pitch.

I want to talk to you about being Chief Culture Officers. That’s who you are. You are culture shapers.

What does it mean to be a culture shaper?

You’ve got to be intentional about advancing positive culture. Culture works like the tide.  When the tide goes up, the boats go up. When the tide goes down, the boats are docked.

Why you do something will ultimately determine what you do as a leader. Be in your job for the right reasons. Your motivation will determine your culture. Do regular motive checks. We want to raise-up a generation of student leaders.

Common Motivations of School Administrators

Commanders. They want control. They like control. Their motivation is to empower students. They are often control freaks. They leverage power. Everything is in Bucket 1 — They believe literally everything is within their control.

Kings. Do the right thing. Avoid problems. Stay in power. Compliance. These school leaders keep their jobs until they retire.

Celebrities. Celebrities love credit in their prime. They want recognition. They want credit. Something wonderful at the school always seems to be traced by to the principal getting the credit. It’s all about team, though.

A Good Motive

Connector. The leader connects team leaders. . .

To a “cause,”

To other people on the team,

To their strengths, and

To the leader relationally.

The public school system is traced to Horace Mann, who sought to prepare kids with the norms of society to do their work. Schools were factories.

As a Poet-Gardener, stay connected to your people.

Think about how you can be a connector in your community.

Don’t lose heart when you’re swimming upstream. Our students deserve it.

One of my favorite sports stories is from 1929. In the Rose Bowl, pitting Georgia Tech against The University of California-Berkeley, seconds before the end of the first half, a Cal player named Roy picked up the ball, making a mad dash to the wrong end zone. The fans were screaming. He got tackled by his own teammate just short of the opponents’ goalline. He realized what happened. To put it lightly, he was embarrassed, humiliated. He had to face his teammates and fans. They trotted into the locker room. He sat down and stared at the concrete. What happened in the next several minutes was profound. A very good life-giving leader, the coach, gave a pep talk and didn’t refer to Roy. He wanted all of the starters to begin the second half. All of the players left the locker room. The humiliated player was seated. He didn’t think he could face the fans. The life-giving coach sat next to him, looked him right in the eye, and said, “Roy, if you don’t go out there, this is all they are going to remember. This is your chance to give everything you can. You can do this.” That turned Roy’s mind around. He would do it. His coach said it was the best half he had ever seen played. The next year, Roy was an All-American and captain.

I don’t know how your career has gone. You may not think you have what it takes. But if you quit now, this will be all people remember. Get it right, in spite of what’s going on in the school. Build leaders. Build social/emotional learning. More than that, would you emulate this life-giving coach for students, parents, and staff. Sit down next to people who are hurting. Tell them “you’ve got a second half.” Let’s not lose heart. Thank you for letting us share these last few days.

“Smelly Feet”

On Sunday, June 17, 2018, Eastside Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor Mark Auffarth delivered a convicting sermon, using Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet as his text from John. If you would like to read my summary of Pastor Mark’s message, “Smelly Feet,” please read on. . . .

“Smelly Feet”
From the “Who Is This Jesus?” Sermon Series
By Dr. Mark Auffarth, Lead Pastor
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina
Sunday, June 17, 2018

Quote for the Week:

“Cast off all bonds of prejudice and custom, and let the love of Christ, which is in you, have free course to run out in all conceivable schemes and methods of labor for the souls of men.” (Catherine Booth)

Scripture for the Week — John 13:1-17 —

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”

7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (English Standard Version)

a       John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet
b       John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural
c       John 13:16 Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos)

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer (All errors are mine alone.)

We continue in our study of “Who Is This Jesus?”

The end of Chapter 12 is the end of Jesus’ public ministry. In the later chapters of John, Jesus does a great deal of teaching. And He offers the High Priestly Prayer to the Father in Chapter 17.

C.S. Lewis said that real humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Christianity is about loving well and giving to others. When other people were running from the lowly and the sick, Christians ran to them.

In his book, Giving It All Away, David Green talked about some people approaching life like a game of Monopoly, buying property and driving others into bankruptcy. Green asserted that life is more like Crazy Eights, with the ultimate conclusion being that the successful player runs out of cards before the end of the game; you don’t want to be stuck with leftover cards.

This passage recorded an astounding event. Jesus got down to wash the feet of His disciples. This was the lowliest of low jobs. We don’t grasp the magnitude of Jesus’ act. Gentile servants in the homes washed people’s feet. No one would stoop that low to clean dirty feet. It was unthinkable.

So, when Jesus, the one they called Teacher and Lord, began washing their feet, you probably could have heard a pin drop. He blew their minds again.

As we look at this passage, let’s look at three things about ourselves:



They called Him Lord, yet they had never seen a Lord like Him. He turned everything on its head. He opposed religious leaders and their religiosity. His opponents wanted to kill Him. His disciples thought He should run and hide. Jesus went to the sinners and accepted them. It was all backwards. What kind of leader was this?!

The disciples were concerned about who was the greatest. Jesus told them the greatest serves everyone. The one who puts himself on the bottom is the one who is on top. That’s not how we think.

I went to the General Assembly of the PCA in Atlanta this week. I count it a privilege to be a part of the Presbyterian Church of America. I agree with the doctrine. There was much unity this week. It was good. When you go to the General Assembly, among 3,000 pastors, it’s hard not to do the comparison game. We compare numbers and budgets. It’s hard to go and not feel like you’re a nobody. You’re dying to be “somebody,” to be noticed. Isn’t this a problem for all of us? We don’t want to be nobodies. We want to be somebodies.

But Jesus didn’t care about that. He didn’t need to be somebody. He didn’t do the things that somebodies do. He didn’t care about that. He took on the lowliest tasks of the low, because He loved them. He showed the disciples the full extent of His love.

He wrapped a towel around himself and took on the lowliest job. This is how He loved. He served.

Of course, the disciples didn’t get it, especially Peter. He did not realize what Jesus was doing. Why didn’t Peter want Him to wash his feet? There were probably a number of reasons. But I keep coming back to the idea of him being ashamed. He was exposed.

Jesus had been telling people that the servant would be on top. They had another opportunity to learn this, but none of them took up the towel. Jesus exposed their arrogance and pride.

No one likes to be shown up. When we are shown up, we feel terrible shame. Jesus always exposed His disciples. When Peter had previously rebuked Him about Christ’s prediction of his impending death, Jesus rebuked Peter: “Get behind thee, Satan!”

Peter was filled with shame. Do we understand this about shame? Being next to Jesus, Peter felt undone. Isaiah felt the same thing in the throne room of God. He was “undone.” He was “ruined.” They did not deserve to be in the presence of a Holy God.

What do we do? We hide. That goes back to Adam and Eve. When they were naked, they were exposed and ashamed.

How does this play-out in our own lives? We’re hiders. We like to stay on the surface. Let’s not go deep. Let’s not uncover anything. We can fool ourselves in believing everything is fine. Someone starts digging, we get mad, we get afraid, or we avoid the issues. We also overreact or resist when we are exposed. I am the king of overreaction.

When we overreact, we say, “That’s not who I am.” Sorry. But that’s EXACTLY who you are! Our overreactions describe better who we are than how we act as though we have it all together. We put up massive walls so people can’t get in to see our cracks. We’re terrified others will find out who we really are.

That’s what shame is. That’s how we avoid others. Peter was too uncomfortable his stench being revealed. We can’t let that happen. No. No. You’re not washing me. It’s too uncomfortable.


Why we need to be washed is in verse 8. Unless Jesus washes us, He has no part of us.  We remain dirty unless Jesus washes us. It’s so painful to admit. We’d rather be superficial. To be transparent and vulnerable is to admit that we need to be washed. This process happens our entire Christian life.

We need our feet, hands, and head to be washed as well. Jesus washes our entire body.

What exactly does this mean? Judas was going to betray Him. Jesus alluded to that. Jesus was talking about a deeper level of meaning. The Christian life is like pulling back the layers of an onion. When you first come to Christ, you have to admit that you have a need. Unless you admit your sin, you cannot get to a Holy God. You need a mediator. You need the One Who died for you, or you wouldn’t come to Him. Or you would attempt to meet your needs in your own power. We come to Jesus for cleansing. This is justification. We are declared righteous. We’re clean! Eleven of the disciples were clean; 1 was not; he was in this ministry for himself.

At the point of your calling Jesus Lord and Savior, Jesus declares you clean. You become a new creation, but the old identity, with massive amounts of of sin and hurt, are still there. We have pain from our past. We live the Christian life, and Jesus peels the layers of the onion back. And it’s painful. That process is called sanctification. He exposes our darkness and sin. We see what we have not handed over to Jesus. We resist, because we are terrified that we’re going to be destroyed. He exposes and heals.

Others around us expose our sin. We deny it. It’s too painful. We respond with “How can someone say that to me?!” We don’t even consider the kernel of truth. We have a new identity in Christ, but we prop-up the old identity. We were declared righteous at the point of justification! This is the process of sanctification. We too often run the other way. But He comes to get us. He is tender and compassionate. We are clean, but our feet need to be continuously washed. We should embrace Jesus’ purposes for healing. That’s why Jesus gave His life — to give us a new identity. We should live out of that identity, forgetting about self and focusing on others.


Something else was going on with Peter. Jesus was serving him. What else would Jesus require of him? He would expect Peter to wash other people’s feet. We have to get our eyes off ourselves. We are consumed by how others think of us. We’re exhausted keeping up with our image, so we don’t have time to serve other people.

Jesus said, “Let me wash you, so you can wash others.” We must lay down our lives for one another. If this is what Jesus did, then it’s the expectation of us. Nothing is too lowly. Nothing is “beneath” us.

But we dabble in serve to one another. Someone points out something wrong in me, and I’m destroyed for the next two weeks!

What does it mean to serve one another? Let me suggest some ways that you an serve one another.

Show each other grace upon grace.

Jesus washed these men’s feet, even though they didn’t deserve it or get it. Jesus was so gracious to them. He never poured shame upon them. He washed their feet. He didn’t even say anything. Grace upon grace upon grace. We tend to serve only those who are “deserving” grace. But so much mercy must be given to people who don’t deserve the mercy. We should pour ourselves into the “undeserving,” those who are no less or more undeserving than I am.

Show them the truth.

Sometimes you have to take a risk by speaking the truth in love. It’s risky. People don’t want to hear the truth. I don’t want to hear the truth. I need compliments after this sermon! That’d be a great Father’s Day gift! We don’t want to hear about our faults, so why are we surprised that others don’t want to hear the truth from us?! It has to do with the motivation. If you’re doing it because you’re mad, that’s not going to get you very far. But, if you want people to be healed, it’s worth the risk. Be concerned for their hearts, so they can be washed, and you can be a catalyst for that washing.

Be comfortable with discomfort.

Serving is often uncomfortable. Not everyone gets to serve in the “glory” positions. I get the glory positions. I do music. I preach. It’s so visible. When you change a diaper in the nursery — or you visit a shut-in — or you clean a bathroom — or you wipe the snot of a little kid — or you clean gutters — you don’t get noticed. But you’re not doing it to be noticed. Isn’t that the point? Discomfort is a win in the economy of God. Be willing to be exposed, so we can be exposed, learn, and trust in Jesus better — ultimately leading to our healing and exposing others in love. That’s going to be uncomfortable. That’s going to take courage. We give of our time and energy for the sake of the One Who would sit down and wash our feet. We read the declaration at the end of every service. This is a picture of Revelation. That vision of every people and tongue being a part of this congregation is not going to happen until we make ourselves uncomfortable. The best missionaries for God are the most uncomfortable — willing to step out in faith. We must be uncomfortable for Jesus’ sake. That’s what Jesus wanted. How will we be a diverse congregation unless we are willing to step out of our comfort?

Jesus died after being tortured for you and for me. Don’t be afraid of smelly feet. It’s a win.

Are you willing?

That’s the Gospel.

And it changes everything.

“Speeches, Speeches, Speeches Galore!”

The Southside Christian School community experienced a wonderful set of speeches during the Graduation Celebration of Wednesday, May 30, 2018 and the Commencement Exercises of Friday, June 1, 2018.  If you would like to read the texts of those speeches, please read on. . . .


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Carson Grace Spearman

Edited by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal, Southside Christian School

Class of 2018. Wow, we made it. So what’s next?

First, let’s take a step back and not forget how we got here. We started off in school at a really young age, with many of us having hopes and dreams to be an astronaut or a pirate or a princess.

But as we grew up, we realized that those plans may not be true for us. Ultimately, God has a plan. We hear it over and over all of our lives, but I feel like when we leave behind our lifestyle now and go into something new, this statement will probably become truer than ever.

And as we leave high school, that same five year old who had outrageous ambitions could very possibly come out in us again. Sure, we all have plans for what we want to do as we enter this fresh chapter in our lives, but what would you do if you realized that wasn’t the plan? What if God didn’t want you to go to college at all? Would you accept it, or just shrug it off like its nothing? Yeah, it will be hard.

It was hard for me when I realized I wasn’t going to go to the moon and collect moon rocks for a living. But we need to stay focused on God through everything.

Us going into college is like a fish out of water. It’s unnatural. It’s uncomfortable, and we feel like we don’t have a place. But we’re not totally alone in this; we have friends and hobbies and interests to keep us busy. However, things naturally tend to shift places. And even though friends, and interests, and plans might adjust for you in the coming years, I can give you encouragement that there is one thing that will never ever change no matter the circumstances: God.

For a second now, just look back on your own life. I would bet a pretty good amount of money that God has never let you down. Has He said no? Sure.  Has He always given you the answer you want?  Of course not. But, He has always been faithful to you and has never failed you.

And if you can accept this fact, then you know that He will continue to be faithful even as you leave here. My main challenge for us, Class of 2018, is that, as we go on to new adventures and experiences and handle basically anything that life throws our way, we are always willing to follow God’s plan for us, no matter how unsure we may feel about them.

I also challenge us to remember 2 Thessalonians 3:3, which states, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”  And that answers my question of what’s next.

Thank you, and stay classy, Sabre Nation.

Caroline Walpole

SENIORITIS: a supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance. Symptoms may include: binge watching Netflix, a decrease in motivation, and neglecting work.

As we all know, senioritis is REAL. Some of us began to experience it this year, at the beginning or towards the end. Some of us started to feel the effects freshman year or even just by walking through the sophomore hallway. But there are conflicting emotions amongst all of us here. There is excitement, for a new beginning; fear of that same new beginning; sadness, to leave comfort and familiarity; and relief, to not have to do lunch duty ever again, or simultaneously pull a dress up and down, and for the guys to finally bring the PFGs out of hiding.

But, in the midst of these emotions, and the residue of senioritis, we must remember this:  Perseverance is the key to success. In the words of Brian Dyson, “Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.” The second that we give up, is the second that success plummets and failure becomes final. But as Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” All of the failures in your life have led up to this moment of success. God calls us to persevere in this life, and the Bible teaches heavily on perseverance and endurance.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” indicated the writer of Hebrews 12:1.

So in just a couple days when we come back to this school, and walk across this stage, and try our very best not to faceplant, we will be given a paper document which says we did something right. It says that we endured it. We made it through the freshman hallway, without dying from cologne inhalation.  We made it through every boring class, and persevered through every horrible test and exam. With that document of perseverance, we will walk across this stage and walk onto another platform in life, walking and trying not to fall, but getting up if we do.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Elizabeth Marcedes

Good evening: family, friends, faculty, and loved ones. Thank you for joining Southside Christian School’s Class of Two Thousand Eighteen tonight, as we celebrate not only the end of our high school careers but also the commencement of our lives as graduates. I know that many of you have travelled very far, some even internationally, to honor the graduates here this evening. So I would like to thank you for coming, and I hope that you enjoy this special evening.

A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity to aide for one of our third grade teachers here at Southside Christian during service day. It was throughout that day when I remembered why I did not want to be a teacher. Well, not exactly. To be honest, the children treated me like I was a princess. The kids drew me pictures, gave me hugs, and even shared their lunches with me. In addition, they also gave me one of the best gifts of all, the gift of advice.

During lunch, I found myself sitting at a table, listening to several of the third graders giving me guidance on what I should say in my graduation speech. I was pretty desperate for ideas that day at the lunch table, so I pulled out my phone, opened the notes app, and started typing out their suggestions. One third grader said, “Tell everyone that this school needs class pets.” Next, a little girl said, “Tell all of your classmates to get Snapchat so that you’ll stay connected with one another.” And then, just before we left the cafeteria to go back to their classroom, one child said quietly, “You should remember what you have learned.”

So Class of 2018, what have we learned here at Southside Christian School? Have we learned how to memorize Bible verses the day of a verse quiz? Have we learned how to dress the way the SCS Handbook wants us to? Maybe it is that we have finally learned how to get from class to class in five minutes. Or perhaps we have learned that we did not go to school at Southside but rather Southside Christian.  

We have learned a lot of these things and many more. One day we will forget most of these things, and it is all right to forget them. But the lessons that we have learned here at Southside Christian should never be forgotten. They are what will truly last; we will carry these truths with us for the rest of our lives. When the memories fade and the diplomas no longer have much value, the principles that we have been taught will remain. Do not forget that each and every one of you has a purpose in this life. God created us in His image, so that we may glorify Him and further His Kingdom. Just as our class verse, Joshua 1:9, says, “The Lord God is with us wherever we go,” whether that is to college right here in South Carolina or across the country in California.

The Lord will be with us, and He commands us to be strong and courageous. We have had great examples of strong and courageous leaders in our lives during our high school years. Our teachers, coaches, and mentors are some of the people that will be missed most during this next chapter in our lives. They have invested so much into us, sacrificed their time for us, and loved us throughout our time here at Southside Christian. The least we can do is remember what these Godly leaders have taught us and cling to the truth as we walk down the road that we call life.

Just like that child quietly told me at lunch that one day not too long ago, we should all remember what we have learned here. It is true that we are all going our separate ways, pursuing new beginnings, and leaving the halls of Southside Christian School. It is so easy to forget the past, but at the same time, it is also easy to dwell on our past mistakes. The hard part is to find the balance between learning from our mistakes and clinging to the truths that have been instilled in us.

I challenge you to remember and learn from our time here. Simply put, we learn from the past. As hard as we may try, we can do nothing to alter or erase our mistakes. The only thing that we can possibly do with the past is learn from it. When we dwell on our failures or shortcomings, we truly miss the opportunities in the present.

Rick Warren, an American pastor and author, put it this way: “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” In the context of us as graduates, we must acknowledge the fact that we will all make mistakes. We will mess up. Making mistakes is inevitable, but learning from them is what allows us to walk out into the world and face the realities of life.

On the other hand, it is vital that we not get caught up in the future. I’m sure that, just like me, you all are excited for the our next big adventure in life. Many of you have talked about your roommates, where you are going to live next year, and how excited you all are. But sometimes we find ourselves worrying and focusing so much on the future that we miss what is right in front of us.

I have to remind myself of this constantly. Especially right now. I am not going to lie. I have been pretty anxious about this thing called randomized housing. At Furman, we have no idea which dorm we are going to live in or who our roommates will be until mid- July, only a month before we move in. This worries me that I cannot plan out my future, but I know that if I get caught up in the things of tomorrow, I will never enjoy the things of today.


Class of Two Thousand Eighteen, we are only guaranteed the time we have right now. In this very moment. I challenge you to live now. Remember what you have learned. Seek truth. Learn from your mistakes. Be strong and courageous. Do not compromise your beliefs to conform to the world. And most importantly love God and love people.


Thank you.




The general perception of an average SCS student is that life has a lot of rules. Chances are that they don’t seem valuable to us young people who just want to be independent.

Well, class of 2018, we’re about to get our wish granted…, ready or not… The reality is that most of us—not all, I’m standing here looking at a bunch of future Citadel knobs—but most of us will be going to places next year that have hardly any rules. The hopes of our parents and teachers is that we’ll be able to understand what the rules in our lives have done for us all these years, and now we can set our own rules that will bring us closer to the goals we have and more importantly, to the God we serve. Some of us are probably a little concerned at having to suddenly make our own rules. So, before we walk out the doors as alumni, I want to present my favorite class with 10 rules that will allow you to be excited over the life we’re all living.

  1. “Wherever you are, be ALL there. – That’s missionary Jim Elliot’s great rephrasing of the classic expression Carpe Diem, “seize the day”. Be in the moment, be where you are, be with who you’re with, and use the opportunity in front of you.


  1. Thank those with thankless jobs. You will have those people in your life who do the tasks none of us want to do. Thank them, whether it’s your dining hall ID scanner, the people cleaning your bathroom in your dorm, or your mom who mails you your pillow when you forget it after thanksgiving break.


  1. If you see a need, meet it. There’s enough people in the world who won’t lift a finger when a small service is right in front of them. Don’t be one of them. Maybe this means picking up trash on your walk to class, or maybe it means reaching out and pulling someone off the subway when they get on the wrong one from the group…which may have been me…


  1. Stand up straight. Graduation doesn’t mean you reset to ground zero. Knowledge, experience, and wisdom have been poured into you for four years from some really competent people. In this school you’ve had incredible opportunities than other can’t imagine. And it’s a major advantage. A dear friend of mine told me that “cowards and champions have the exact same fears, the only difference is that champions attack them.” So stand up straight, be confident, you have a lot to learn, but there’s a lot you already know.


  1. Find symbiotic friends. You remember what Mrs. Banks taught you – Symbiosis is when two different organisms mutually benefit each other and thrive off of each other. Pick friends who are good for you, and ALSO where you’re good for them. If someone doesn’t want to celebrate when good things happen to you, you can do better. Make people better because they’ve been with you.


  1. Be joyful in everything. It’s perfectly legal to be joyful in whatever you do. And no one can take it away from you. Having fullness of joy doesn’t require pleasant life circumstances. In fact joy can’t can be your motivation for the hardest things: Hebrews 12:2 Jesus…, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.…


  1. Let things go. You don’t have to be offended. You don’t have to be a victim. You can rise above. You can move on. You can even overlook, cover in love and serve people in spite of themselves. It’s ALWAYS a choice. Nobody likes bitter people. And bitter people don’t even like themselves.


  1. Live unapologetically. No, I’m not saying you never have to say you’re sorry, but you can actually make choices so that you don’t have to say you’re sorry. Don’t do things you know you’ll regret. You can decide to that you don’t have to embarrass your parents or your school or yourself because you ARE going to be doing VALUABLE things.


  1. Don’t be scared to pray. Prayer isn’t just for the worthy. It’s for the desperate. It’s for people who know they are weak, who know they need help. It’s for people who believe.


  1.  Don’t be scared to love Jesus. You might ask why I say that, but you’re not naive. You know that there’s a lot of cynicism, a lot of artificiality, and lot of unbelief in this world. Don’t leave SCS as a slightly religious person. Leave here as someone who loves Jesus, fiercely loyal, abiding in Him. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit. John 15:5

My Granddad, used to tell my Mom, “You don’t have to obey the rules but you do have to accept the consequences.” What I’m saying here tonight doesn’t take a Brian Remer to figure out. This isn’t new or radical, but it’s real. These rules are choices you get to make, and nobody else can make them for you, so use the rock solid foundation you’ve been give at Southside Christian, and start tonight to be the person you want the rest of the world to be.




Good Evening, my name is Jackson Shubert and I’m very thankful to have the privilege to be speaking to y’all tonight on this great occasion. As I sat down to write this speech, knowing it would be delivered at a very important event in my life thus far I attempted to think about an epic event in my life that would inspire everyone in the room, unfortunately, I haven’t had many epic experiences in my life that I could form into an inspiring charge to us all as we leave our school once and for all, but, this is what I came up with:


This past summer I had the privilege of selection into the 77th encampment of Palmetto Boys State and was not particularly excited about going initially I must admit, but I can now look back and say that it was a week that changed my life forever. On the first day of Boys State, they told everyone in my city to get the signatures of the other delegates that are in your respective city and then hand the sheet of paper with the signatures on it into your senior counselor once you’ve completed this task.


I began to walk around to all of the guys that were awkwardly standing around the building and asking them for their signatures so we could all complete this assignment and get to our next objective, as we swapped signatures we talked about ourselves; we all were standing around a circle introducing ourselves and saying where we went to high school; the circle went around with guys saying, “Hey, my name is so and so and I go to Ben Lippen,” my name is so and so and I go to Bishop England” (these are a couple private christian schools like ours in the state) following a few Woodmonts and one Christ Church guy, it finally made its way around to me, and I said, “Hey, my name is Jack Shubert and I go to Southside Christian School.”


Immediately, once I told them where I went, they all looked at me with wide open mouths and someone asked me, “Is it really as hard as we’ve heard that it is?” I looked around the room and realized that I was the only guy from SCS there and replied “of course it is, it’s the hardest school in the state” and I said that with pride for my school and the reputation that precedes it.


Now, let’s take a moment to realize the magnitude that this reputation carries and what it means for us and how we should carry ourselves as graduates of this school. As students who have gone here for several years at least, I think it’s easy for us to forget the great things that we are given and offered while we are here. For years we have been offered countless opportunities to express our faith in such a way that isn’t experienced anywhere else, as students we have been offered prestigious academics that are superior to some schools around us which has given us a leg up on our peers for college.


We have been offered great athletics, earning several state and countless region championships during our time here. We have been held to an incredibly high standard in every regard to our character by our teachers, which at times was annoying, yes, but has prepared us so well for the rigors of college.


Yes, Southside Christian has been challenging for all of us. The rules that we have learned to follow, or in some cases bend in order to get through the year, the high academics that have become the standard for ourselves as students, and the ability for all of us to make lifelong friends who have relationships rooted in our common love for Christ and what he has done for us as believers.


So now, as we leave this place, let us remember the amazing times we have shared here, and let us even remember the frustration we have shared here. But not only should we remember these things, but use them to better ourselves as believers, as students, and as people. I challenge all of you to push yourself on a daily basis to be the best you can be, work your hardest at everything you come across, do the things that you believe you can’t, be great, be an example of the students that our school produces.


To our administrators, teachers, and parents. Thank you for giving us endless opportunities to better ourselves daily, Thank you Southside Christian School. Let’s all make them proud.




About three years ago, the question I least wanted to hear was “what’s up?” because I had never seen the standard answer to this question in my English textbook back in China, and none of my teachers had ever taught me this. So every time I was asked this question I would just smile back awkwardly. Beyond that, I constantly got confused with all the units like Fahrenheit, pounds, and miles. However, time solved the problem as I got more and more adapted to all of these differences. Now I can communicate with people more fluently; and unit conversion has gotten easier.


Among our senior class, most of us will go off to college, where conflicts and differences thrive. People from different countries, religions, and cultures will bring inevitable novelty into our lives. From what I have learned in the past years, the most important thing is to not be afraid; instead, we have to embrace those uncertainties and differences. We all have our “comfort zone” of things that we are familiar with, and I know it’s always comfortable to stay in our own circle; but we cannot grow and develop ourselves unless we take a step toward the outside world and expand our possibilities. For me, it was the first time I joined a sports team, the first time I participated in a debate, and the first time I raised my hand in class, even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to say.


So, when you get used to your new environment after graduating from Southside Christian School, don’t forget the encouragement you’ve received from others — perhaps an inspiring text from a friend, or a little talk with Ms. Loper, or… just something, something that’s encouraging. Recall those moments to remind yourselves what inspires your passion. We are all sailing on the way to our future, and all our past experiences are like lighthouses pointing us in the right direction. No matter where we go, Southside Christian, along with our friends and teachers, is always a harbor we can revisit.

“Overcoming Shame”

On Sunday, June 3, 2018, my esteemed colleague — Rob Brown, Southside Christian Lower School Principal and Eastside Presbyterian Church Elder, preached a most excellent sermon on shame at EPC. If you would like to read my summary of Rob’s message, “Overcoming Shame,” please read on. . .

“Overcoming Shame”
By Rob Brown, Elder
Eastside Presbyterian Church
Greenville, South Carolina

Sunday, June 3, 2018
Quote of the Week:

“I have learned that breaking free from the shackles of shame is not an overnight experience or a quick-fix, ten-step process. It is, however, a grand, ongoing adventure of discovering the depths of God’s love and the huge scope of God’s power to transform us, re-create us, and continually renew us.” (Katherine Walden)

Text: Hosea 2:14-23

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
    and bring her into the wilderness,
    and speak tenderly to her.

15 And there I will give her her vineyards
    and make the Valley of Achor[a] a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
    as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish[b] the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord,
    I will answer the heavens,
    and they shall answer the earth,
22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
    and they shall answer Jezreel,[c]
23 and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,[d]
    and I will say to Not My People,[e] ‘You are my people’;
    and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”

a       Hosea 2:15 Achor means trouble; compare Joshua 7:26
b       Hosea 2:18 Hebrew break
c       Hosea 2:22 Jezreel means God will sow
d       Hosea 2:23 Hebrew Lo-ruhama
e       Hosea 2:23 Hebrew Lo-ammi

Summary of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer (All errors are mine alone.)

Before we dive-in, we need to pray. . . .

This is not my day job. I don’t know if they’ll ever ask me to do this again, but I’ll give it a shot. I want to share how God has been speaking to me.

Rebecca Thompson and her sister were abducted by men in Caspar, Wyoming. These men drove to the Fremont River Bridge, where they brutally beat and threw the girls over the bridge. Rebecca miraculously survived. Her sister died. Rebecca waited until morning for her rescuers. Her abductors were arrested and imprisoned. Her body eventually healed of her physical wounds. But her soul never healed. She later returned to the same bridge, but her body would not survive the fall.

What caused this? Anger for these men, for the parole board, for herself?

Maybe it was guilt over her survival and her sister’s death.

How about shame? She apparently could never outrun what had happened. She couldn’t outrun this awful thing that had happened.

To some degree, we all understand shame.

Such is what this passage of Hosea is saying about shame.

I have three points to make in this message:

Shame about our lives

God’s work in shame

Overcoming shame


In his book, Befriend, Scott Saul, a pastor in Nashville, stated that shame is a sickness which turns us inward. Shame is a low grade anxiety that nags at our souls. Shame says we are less than, smaller than, and other than what God calls us to be.

Shame is different than guilt.

Guilt is when I feel bad for what I’ve done.

Shame is when I feel bad for who I am.

The sinful nature reaches into the core of who we are. Shame results from this sickness of sin. Shame tells we’re worthless and we will never measure-up. We all have this sense of shame.

We see shame in the book Hosea. Hosea was a Prophet for 40 years. God commanded Hosea to take an adulterous wife, Gomer. The marriage was an allegory — an example of God’s relationship to His people. At the point of verse 14 of Chapter 2, Hosea was experiencing shame.

Can you imagine the shame of a spouse who constantly turns adulterously to others? She abandoned her husband and her family to pursue what she wanted. She sold herself to the highest bidders. Why does she do this? Surely, this has to do with her feeling as though she’s not good enough for her husband and family.

This story is a representation of our own relationship with God. We turn our back on God and pursue our own desires.

At the end of verse 13, Hosea wrote that Gomer had gone after her lovers and had forgotten Him. The people of Israel had turned their back on the Lord. They had left Him. They saw themselves as “less than,” so they looked to other things to fill the hole themselves. We do the same. But we can’t do it.

I would like to share a personal story which speaks to this. [Rob stopped for several moments to gather himself emotionally.] In 1990, my father was an elementary school principal, deacon of his church, and respected member of our community. My dad made some bad decisions about management of funds. There was shame. Rather than accepting the shame, he took his own life. So he left behind a wife, four kids, 11 future grandchildren. That’s the power of shame.

Shame can have power in our lives. It’s real.

Here’s the good news. The story of shame doesn’t end with verse 13. That’s just the first theme of this sermon.


In our shame, God pursues us. When we turn away from Him, He does not turn away from us.

In the second point of our sermon, we see that God does not wait for His people to come to Him. He actively seeks us. He brings us into the wilderness, calling out tenderly to us. He turns trouble into hope. Wow! After He pursues, THEN the people response. God calls us in the midst of our shame and trouble and hardship we are walking through, drawing us to Him.

We see this time and time again in Scripture.

God promised Adam and Eve a Savior when they were trying to cover their shame and hide.

God sent Nathan to confront David when he was hiding from his shame over Bathsheba and Uriah. And David prays Psalm 51 as a result.

When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus, He did not condemn her, and He called her to live a better life.

Jesus went to the cross, dying for us while we were still sinners. He did not wait for us to respond.

It is beautiful to see what Hosea is saying here. He “alluded” her. He persuaded her. He brought her into the desert. If God does not lead us into the wilderness — unless we do not go through the hardness — we cannot heal or fully experience God’s redemptive work. This is God’s work in our lives.

Listen to Andrew Peterson, a Christian musician and storyteller.

“Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”

Can’t you feel it in your bones
Something isn’t right here
Something that you’ve always known
But you don’t know why
‘Cause every time the sun goes down
We face another night here
Waiting for the world to spin around
Just to survive
But when you see the morning sun
Burning through a silver mist
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?
Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?
‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down
And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?
I used to be a little boy
As golden as a sunrise
Breaking over Illinois
When the corn was tall
Yeah, but every little boy grows up
And he’s haunted by the heart that died
Longing for the world that was
Before the Fall
Oh, but then forgiveness comes
A grace that I cannot resist
And I just want to thank someone
I just want to thank someone for this
Now I can see the world is charged
It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars
Dripping from prophets’ lips
But still, my thirst is never slaked
I am hounded by a restlessness
Eaten by this endless ache
But still I will give thanks for this
‘Cause I can see it in the seas of wheat
I can feel it when the horses run
It’s howling in the snowy peaks
It’s blazing in the midnight sun
Just behind a veil of wind
A million angels waiting in the wings
A swirling storm of cherubim
Making ready for the Reckoning
Oh, how long, how long?
Oh, sing on, sing on
And when the world is new again
And the children of the King
Are ancient in their youth again
Maybe it’s a better thing
A better thing
To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love
Maybe this old world is bent
But it’s waking up
And I’m waking up
‘Cause I can hear the voice of one
He’s crying in the wilderness
“Make ready for the Kingdom Come”
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Come back soon
Come back soon

Maybe it’s better to be broken — to be redeemed by God’s love.

God reminds His people of Egypt, pointing the people of Israel back to the time in history when they were drawn out of shame, brokenness, and slavery. He led them through the wilderness into the Promised Land. This was not new for God. This is who God is. God turns trouble into a door of hope.

God redeems shame.

Go back to the story of my father. There’s nothing to understand about that situation. But God has worked in this! For example, God provided men in my life. Jimmy Lynch, Bill Strickland, Poppa (my Dad’s dad) — these men spoke into my life after my father’s life. Since my Mom was a single mother, scholarship money was made available for me to attend Erskine, where I met my wife — where my faith took deep roots.

God calls us out of our brokenness. That’s what we see going on here. God’s great affection for us draws us back to Himself through redemptive work, so we are stronger and better love, invest, and minister to others. We heard this morning how others poured into Eric in Kenya, so that he can minister as a missionary to others in similar situations.

God is turning our attention from ourselves to others. He paid the price for us. He redeemed us. He equips us to love properly.


The third point is overcoming shame.

We are a church which says we want to help others follow Jesus. We have been praying for deeper relationships involving spiritual inquiry. We have prayed to be involved in mercy ministry. We have been praying faithfully for our neighbors. Each of these is about looking to others — to the shamed and ashamed around us. We understand shame. We are better equipped to love and minister to those who are shamed and ashamed.

The heart of God’s people are changed through the power of God’s work in us. We need to see God for Who He is. Other gods are removed. There are so many dimension to this passage. There is covenant language here. We know God’s peace. We are equipped to love others as God created them. We are agents of God’s redemption. Such was always God’s intention.

We are called to be different. We are called to be light. We are called to draw others to Jesus. We are called to be a part of God’s redemptive work. But shame turns our focus to ourselves. God’s redemptive work turns our focus outward. We can love the shamed. We can love the ashamed.

We are betrothed to righteousness and love. The bride takes on some of the identify of her bridegroom. They become one. As God’s bride, we take on God’s righteousness. We become one with God. We experience His love and His faithfulness. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. His promises are kept.

Hosea was pointing us forward to the work of Jesus, Who bore our shame on the cross. Crucifixion was the worst way to die — dying naked on a cross. He endured humiliation and the crucifixion, giving us hope when there was only shame. The hope turns our attention outside of ourselves. As a result, we are protected through Jesus’ affirmation. We are set free! We are set free to love others as Jesus loves us. We are free to show kindness; we are free to lavish kindness on others.

We should be zealous in God’s work. This is our prayer as a church.

Earlier, I mentioned a few men who have been God’s hands of redemption.

Jimmy Lynch took me fishing.

Bill Strickland spoke into my life and my brother’s life. He invested time and money in restoration of a 1965 Ford Mustang with my brother and me. He set an example. He encouraged us.

My grandfather spent time with me. After my Dad died, that time became more precious.

God worked in these men’s lives. Bill had a son who died in a car accident; he saw the opportunity with me. My Poppa felt a bit of failure with his son. I was his second chance.

God redeemed the shame.

What about us? What are our opportunities?

Working with Lower School students in Southside Christian school, co-workers, neighbors — how can I be Jimmy Lynch or Bill Strickland or Poppa to others around me?

Shame tells us we’re not good enough. We’re worthless. We become incapable of loving others or caring for others.

John 13:34-35 indicates that we are to be known as loving others — that which sets us apart.

[34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (English Standard Version)]

The cross was a shameful form of death, but Jesus endured that shame, so our relationship can be restored.

At the finish of this passage, Hosea indicated God will have mercy on the children of Hosea and Gomer.

Names are important. Names define people. God changed these children’s names. We take confidence that he will complete the work He set out to do. God is faithful even when we are not. Shame no longer defined the children of Hosea and Gomer.

Jesus sets us free from our shame, so we can be agents of redemption.

God is more powerful than our shame. Jesus sets us free. Jesus enables us to love Him and others — to live as His children. And people will know we love God as we love one another.

If Mark were here today, he would remind us,

That is the Gospel.

And the Gospel changes everything.

“Closing All-Employee Convocation,” Southside Christian School, 01 June 2018

What a privilege to gather with the entire Southside Christian School staff for our closing 2017-2018 school year convocation! If you would like to read my summary of the morning activities, please read on. . . .

Closing All-Employee Convocation

Southside Christian School

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Friday, June 1, 2018

Summary of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Upper School Principal (All errors are mine alone.)

Dr. Sam Barfell, Superintendent, wished everyone a good morning and happy last day of school.

Sarah Williams, 1st Grade Teacher, prayed to open our time of worship.

Dr. Barfell spoke words of affirmation about finishing his 35th year as an educator.

Fred Barrett, Upper School Vocal Music Director, led the audience in a singing of “In Christ Alone.”

Dr. Barfell celebrated the close of Philippians 1 on this day!

He overviewed the chapter, detailing the joy of intercession, completion, affection, ministry, and living a life worthy of the Gospel.

Paul could find joy even in his sufferings.

Dr. Barfell detailed the final three verses of Philippians 1 —

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. (Verses 27-30, New Living Translation)

We must stand firm.

We must stand in one spirit with one purpose—in unity, harmony, and interdependence.

We must fight together for the faith—playing as a team, advancing the Gospel.

We must consider suffering to be a privilege. Trusting in Christ and suffering with Christ go hand-in-hand.

We struggle together. Sometimes there is conflict, but we struggle together, so we can advance the Gospel as the body of Christ.

How do we apply this truth—individually and corporately?

We have experienced struggles this year. These are tough circumstances. We are on the front line helping families in crises. We live in a broken world. We see our own brokenness up-close. But we should not emphasize the struggles this morning.

The point Paul was making is that, in all of the struggles, we. . .have. . .joy.

We get to minister to others, representing Jesus Christ in our work.

Dr. Barfell shared a portion of an e-mail of encouragement I sent to the Upper School staff on this day.

Dr. Barfell’s wife, Jen, shared a passage of Scripture in an e-mail of encouragement with him on this day:

Grace is all we need. Power works best in weakness. The power of Christ works in us. The insults, hardships, persecutions — when we are weak, then are we strong.

We finished Philippians 1!

Mr. Barrett led the audience in another hymn.

Dr. Barfell wanted to people to share the evidence of God working in the lives of SCS people this year.

Microphones were passed through the audience, so staff could share beautiful testimonies of God’s faithfulness in their lives throughout the school year.

Dr. Barfell introduced Bob Schaffner.

Mr. Shaffner expressed that he always senses the presence of the Lord in Southside Christian School, which, he said, is primarily because of the love, faith, and devotion of the staff — so humbling to him. He thanked everyone for a great year. He declared the year to be “spectacular,” with plenty of evidence to verify that truth.

The Board is concerned with Ends Statements, not the day-to-day operations.

Mr. Schaffner declared God to be the “Owner” of the school, to Whom the Board listens and Whom the Board follows.

The Ends Statements:

  1. Students receive an excellent Christian education at a reasonable tuition cost.
  2. Low finances do not prevent enrollment for children from qualified Christian families to the extent of available financial aid.
  3. Students receive an integrated, biblical worldview.
  4. Graduates are equipped to thrive in future academic studies.
  5. Students increasingly live passionate, Christ-centered lives.

Both of Mr. Shaffner’s children spent 17 years at SCS.

“A ‘good’ school is a risk; you’ve got to be a ‘great’ school to succeed,” he said.

He celebrated the gift of the new land across Woodruff Road. “The future is bright for Southside Christian School,” he said.

The building has been improved continuously.

The school has been certified as a Best Christian Workplace. “The truth is pretty extraordinary.”

Patient, systematic teaching and discipling is done well at this school.

Mr. Schaffner shared positive testimonies of parents.

Christ is at the center of the students’ education. Christ is the focus.

Mr. Schaffner acknowledged the tough work of the school and congratulated all of the people in the room for their efforts.

The staff offered words of encouragement to Mr. Schaffner, which he promised to take back to the other Board members.

The Board turns to prayer in their desire for unity. The Board is a prayerful Board.

Mr. Schaffner thanked and congratulated the people who were receiving service awards and who were retiring.

Mr. Schaffner closed his time in prayer.

Mr. Barrett led us in the singing of a final hymn.

Dr. Barfell announced that he is excited about school founder Libby Handford is going to share as the graduation speaker on this night.

Russ Bryan, Director of Operations, presented information on the summer ALICE training. He emphasized the importance of everyone carefully reading about their obligations for the safety and security of the school. Completing the mandatory 1-hour of online training in the summer will prevent staff from having to do so during August in-service. Following the online training, a group training will be required. Staff will be learning options which could save the lives of students and others in the school. Questions should be directed to Mr. Bryan. ALICE stands for Alert — Lock-Down — Inform — Confront — Evacuate.

Dr. Barfell indicated that Mr. Bryan had assembled a parent think tank to give input about school safety and security.

Dr. Barfell reported the dates of April 8-10, 2019 as the days for the ACSI accreditation review team visit. He thanked everyone for their school-wide efforts. The school will also be pursuing the “Exemplary” accreditation. We are confident about the plan for submitting all of the required documentation.

Priscilla LeGrand, Upper School Physical Education Teacher, made the Wellness Program awards as the coordinator of the program. Last year, the staff walked 10,232,450 steps — this year, 94,911,226. Changes were made for more people to win awards. Winners included Lynn Harrison, Tim Gibbons, Brenda McCauley, Diane Holeman, Emily Krall, Martha Bunn, Cheryl Doyle, Joseph Balding, Jackie Blanton, and Terry Dietrich.

Three new winners on this day were Vicki Wells, Chelsea Brewer, and Tim Gibbons. The prizes throughout the year were Amazon gift cards from our insurance company, monetary gifts from the school, Under Armour apparel from the athletic department, and various gift cards

Dr. Barfell thanked Mrs. LeGrand for her work as Wellness Program Coordinator.

Dr. Barfell gave an overview of the school’s work with a marketing company, Harvest | A Brand Identity Studio. Dr. Barfell played a video of Harvest’s Cody Bradenbaugh making a “reveal” of new branding. Visuals should reinforce the identity of the school. Harvest has “heard our story” and refreshed our brand. The reveal will also be made to the student and parents in the fall.

Melissa Pearson, Director of Marketing, and Susan Dunlap, Director of Enrollment Management, held up a large banner created by school parent David Boyle to show a look of the new word mark and logo.

Dr. Barfell talked about the need for a replacement schedule from the “old” to the “new.” All will not change instantly, due to the cost of the new.

Longevity awards were made for retirees and employees of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years of experience at Southside Christian School.

Administration and Operations

  • Susan Dunlap, 10 years
  • Abby Watson, 10 years
  • Tracy Hopkins, 5 years
  • Kathy Nelson, 15 years


  • Cindy Horneffer, 15 years

Lower School and Academic Resource Center

  • Diana Baker, 5 years
  • Tammy Davis, 25 years
  • Sonja Ison, 5 years
  • Karen Ketterman, 25 years
  • Jennifer Stout, 10 years

Upper School

  • Paul Ehr, 10 years
  • Brett Henderson, 5 years
  • Bob Jones, 30 years
  • Steve Mason, 5 years
  • Mark Sandlin, 5 years

Early Education

  • Lynn Harrison, 10 years
  • LouCinda Jarrett, 5 years
  • Faye Koger, 5 years
  • Angelica Maria, 5 years
  • Elizabeth McCameron, 5 years
  • Mary Anne Morgan, 15 years
  • Tatum Sturkey, 5 years
  • Ashley Cantrell, 5 years


  • Dr. Jordan Clemens
  • Anna DeVault

Sabre Heritage Award

  • Trudy Austin
  • Karen Ketterman
  • Kim Miller

Dr. Barfell closed the meeting in prayer.

We celebrated a successful close to the school year by dining together in the Cafeteria, the lunch being compliments of the Let’s Do Lunch program.