Seeking Transformation

In Issue, News, Spring/Summer 2021 by Bethany Van Voorst

Teaching for Transformation (TfT) provides Christian schools with a framework for the creation of learning experiences rooted in a transformational worldview. This includes services like professional development training, leadership coaching and support, school visits to provide feedback on TfT implementation, coaching training and support, and more.

“With the current cultural climate Christian schools find themselves in, TfT allows teachers to tackle the issues of our day, providing them with a biblical framework to teach and learn,” says Dr. Tim Van Soelen, director of the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education, which implements TfT.

Since CACE began offering TfT in 2018, they have established relationships with 65 schools. These schools can be found nationwide, ranging from Trinity Christian High School in Monterey, California; to Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas; to Washington Christian Academy in Olney, Maryland.

“Initially, schools are most excited that they will be deepening teaching and learning practices that align with the promises contained with the biblical mission and vision of their school,” says Darryl DeBoer, director of TfT. “As they implement, the excitement grows when they see the high engagement from students and the growing evidence that students are connecting the learning to playing their part within God’s story.”

With TfT continuing to grow in popularity, CACE launched a new program called Coaching for Transformation (CfT), which aligns athletics with a school’s mission and vision. CfT began with Sioux Falls Christian School, where the varsity football coach gathered a group of coaches for a retreat to brainstorm ways to take the big ideas of TfT and apply them to athletics. At the same time, athletic directors at Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, Minnesota, and Surrey Christian School in Surrey, British Columbia, had been looking into similar practices. Those conversations grew to the point where, today, Dordt Football Coach Joel Penner and Women’s Basketball Coach Bill Harmsen now serve as directors of CfT and have just finished a year-long implementation with 13 schools.

“It is encouraging to walk alongside athletic directors as they dive into and develop the core beliefs of their athletic programs resulting in a transformative athletic experience for their athletes,” says Harmsen.

Central Wisconsin Christian School is utilizing CfT as part of their athletic program this year. Athletic Director Gregg Zonnefeld (’92) is excited about implementing CfT at his school.

“Our goal for Crusader Athletics is to raise up champions with Christ, and Coaching for Transformation provides us with a framework and common language to ensure that this focus is consistent and concrete for our coaches, our athletes, and our Crusader family,” says Zonnefeld. “I am excited to see our staff grow in connecting the dots in a deeper and stronger way.”