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Leading in Complex Times

September 17, 2021
By Paul Williams

Are you a leader? If you have a family, you are. If you have employees who answer to you at any level, you are. If you have friends or co-workers who look up to you, you are. The correct answer is yes. We are all leaders at some level.

If you had not noticed it, leading is hard today. There is a multitude of challenges facing leaders today. Massive miscommunication (social media), harsh emotional reactions to decisions, freedom to call out leaders without the necessary information, a significant divide in perspectives, a lack of humility on the part of leaders and followers, and the list goes on.

In a recent article, Dr. Tim Elmore characterizes effective leadership in this way. “Believe it or not, I’m convinced one secret to effective leadership today is to practice paradoxes. Uncommon leaders cultivate the skills to embody seemingly contradictory traits that usually aren’t found together. For instance, these leaders are both confident and humble.” This principle holds true no matter what level of leadership you find yourself. Dr. Elmore goes on to identify some significant leadership paradoxes. 

  • Uncommon leaders embrace both visibility… and invisibility.
  • Uncommon leaders are both teachers… and learners.
  • Uncommon leaders model both high standards… and gracious forgiveness.
  • Uncommon leaders are both timely… and timeless.

As part of our effort to accomplish our credo of Graduating Leaders, TPCS is bringing in leadership speakers once a month to challenge our students to become influential leaders. Dr. Elmore is a leadership speaker who focuses on Gen Z (your children) and the challenges they face in today’s culture. Dr. Elmore is also the author of the Habitude series we use in our mentor groups, focusing on training leadership skills. Dr. Elmore will be speaking to parents at TPCS on Monday, September 20 at 7 pm in the Upper School Town Square. Tim Alexander, a member of Dr. Elmore’s team, will be speaking to our students the same day at 9:25 am.

We will continue to expand our partnerships with influential leaders who will challenge our students to rise above the crowd and lead.

 

New COVID+ Cases Count

 

Critical Grace Theory

September 09, 2021
By Paul Williams

This is a special edition by TPCS Board Member, Mike Tooley

Critical Grace Theory

My name is Mike Tooley, and I am privileged to serve on the Board of Directors for Traders Point Christian Schools.  I am better known within the TPCS community as the husband of the late Danielle Tooley--the beloved former head of the English Department at the high school and mentor to so many students and fellow teachers--and the father of three former TPCS students:  Samantha, Cameron, and Jackson.  

Like others, I have mourned with our nation over the past year and a half as we have grappled with the pandemic of racial injustice at the same time we’ve struggled with the more visible pandemic caused by COVID-19.  While mourning, I also have been encouraged as we have begun to learn some long-overdue lessons about the toll of racial injustice on our African-American brothers and sisters and to build necessary bridges to reconciliation.

Over the past few months, I have observed as school boards across the nation have been asked to take a stand on the issue of “CRT,” or critical race theory.  That theory, as I understand it, is a way of reexamining the role race has played in our nation’s history and its continuing impact to this day.  

Proponents of this theory believe teaching it in our schools is necessary to uncover our eyes to the real and lasting impact of race in America and how it has contributed to systemic discrimination.  Opponents of the theory voice concerns that it is being used as a cover to undermine our system of government and to sneak in a Marxist and atheistic worldview in its place.

As an unapologetically Christian school, TPCS has a singular advantage over our public school counterparts in that we can turn to the example of Jesus when faced with controversial questions intended to divide.

The Gospels are full of stories of how the religious leaders of the day would attempt to trap Jesus with trick questions such as whether he supported paying taxes to the Roman government or which commandment was the greatest.  They cared less about the specific answer he gave and more about undermining his authority, as answering the question one way would cause problems with the ruling authorities and answering the other way would discredit his testimony among his followers.

Time after time, however, Jesus refused to fall into their trap.  Instead, he brilliantly turned their questions into opportunities to teach what was truly important to the heart of God the Father.  Perhaps the most beautiful example of this is described in Matthew 22:34-40, when Jesus turned an attempt to force him to elevate one religious law over all the others into a powerful summary of God’s will for his people, responding to the question of what was the greatest commandment by answering:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Luke records that when Jesus subsequently was asked “and who is my neighbor,” he answered by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which is ultimately a story of how God’s love transcends racial differences and leads to reconciliation.  Re-read Luke 10:25-37, and you’ll see what I mean.

Following the example of Jesus, my own view is that it is a mistake to fall into the modern-day trap of answering the question “are you for or against the teaching of critical race theory?”  

Instead of answering a question intended by some only to divide, I believe we should be answering a different question:  “As a Christian school, what DO we believe about the role of race and teaching about race in our nation and in our schools?”

Here are my thoughts on how we should answer that question as people who follow Christ and who love our nation, our students, and our school:  

  • We believe we live in a broken world that Jesus came to heal through his sacrifice and God’s grace.
  • We believe one of the ways we are broken as a nation, as a community, and as individuals is through the tragic sin of racism.
  • We believe the sin of racism has been present in every age and every civilization since the Garden of Eden and that no group and no individual has been immune from it—save Christ our Savior alone.
  • We recognize and acknowledge that the United States of America has its own unique history of racism, which has resulted in untold suffering for generations of African-Americans.
  • We recognize and acknowledge that the evil of lawful slavery was ended as a result of a bloody civil war that cost the lives of over 600,000 troops—both black and white—and was punctuated by the assassination of a President dedicated to the proposition that all men and women were created equal in the eyes of God and, therefore, should be free under the laws of man.
  • We recognize and acknowledge that the evils of racism in our nation did not end with the legal prohibition of slavery or with the last battle of the Civil War, but instead have rippled throughout the generations since, including through terrors committed by hate-filled organizations such as the KKK and through other forms of intentional and unintentional racism.  
  • We believe as Christians and as a Christian school that only Jesus can fully heal the world of the sin of racism.  We also believe, however, that we are called to act as his hands and feet in doing our part, which requires us to:  
    • Educate ourselves about our nation’s history and the contributions of Americans of all races;
    • Appreciate and celebrate the humanity of all of God’s children, whether they look like the numerical majority of our particular community or not;
    • Strive for reconciliation within our nation and world, including reconciliation between races and among races; and
    • Honor God’s commandment in Micah 16:8 to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

Like our Lord Jesus, when presented with a question meant to divide us, we can give a better answer that displays God’s love for and through us and ultimately unites us.  Instead of debating the merits of critical race theory, perhaps we are called to share the Critical Grace Theory to a hurting world in need of truth and mercy in equal measure.

 

New Mercies

September 03, 2021
By Paul Williams

Afghanistan, delta variant, RSV, hurricane Ida, masks, CRT, and the list goes on. It seems like we are in this never-ending cycle of bad news and extreme challenges. But we’re not.

We live in one of the most incredible times in history. We live in a society that dwells in abundance compared with so many other people in the world, including the Afghan refugees coming to America. We live in an almost futuristic time of advanced technology, medicine, transportation, manufacturing, communication, and much more.

As I think about this time and the upcoming harvest season, I am reminded of the many blessings that come from above. Lamentations 3:22-23 says  22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. God’s mercies are new every morning. As I write this on Thursday morning, it is 59 degrees out on a crystal clear morning in central Indiana. God has graciously given you and me another day. Another day to serve Him, be a help or encouragement to others, and rejoice and be glad.

In the Old Testament passage of Habakkuk 3:17-19, Habakkuk was lamenting the challenges of his day. As he reflected on those challenges, he ended up on a positive note in verse 18.

17Though the fig tree does not bud and no fruit is on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the sheep are cut off from the fold and no cattle are in the stalls, 18 yet I will exult in the LORD; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! 19 GOD the Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer; He makes me walk upon the heights!

So let’s help ourselves and our kids know that every day is a blessing from the Lord, and we have the opportunity to determine the lens we use to view the day.  I choose to view this day as a day full of mercies and a blessed opportunity to serve God and others.

Cultural Intelligence Taskforce

This school-based committee is made up of parents, administrators, and school board members, providing open dialogue and the development of strategies to ensure ethnic diversity in our school community. We would like to expand the makeup of the taskforce and encourage families of all ethnic or national heritage to consider being part of the team. To date, we have had only three people respond to be part of this taskforce. If you would like to be a part of this task force, please contact my Executive Assistant, Melissa Underwood at munderwood@tpcs.org.

COVID Count Update

 

Questions About Transparency of COVID+ Reporting

We have had some families who are concerned that we may not be reporting our COVID+ cases at school with complete transparency. This is very understandable based on the way that the state health department reports information. If you go to the Indiana Department of Health COVID dashboard, you can search by school name to see the positive count in your school. If you search for Traders Point Christian School, you will see that the IDOH is reporting a total school COVID count (see image below) of 21 positive cases, and I am reporting in the chart above that we 12 total student cases. If you notice in the image below that when you hover over the icon pointed to by the yellow arrow, it states that those are numbers for the 2020-2021 school year, not this year. In reality, those numbers are inaccurate because we had more than 21 positive cases last year.

Dr. Box, in her report with the Governor last week, stated that they recognize that this rereporting is inaccurate for this year. The state is trying to add a drop-down box so people can select the year when looking at the information. If you have any questions about our reporting practices, please feel free to reach out to me.

 

 

TPCS COVID Related Absence Learning Plan

Students with a COVID+ absence will be provided the opportunity for online learning within three days of a parent notifying the school. Online learning will remain available for up to 14 days. Attendance will be taken and will count towards the student's record. Student athletes who are absent as a COVID+, close contact in a household setting, or for a voluntary COVID reason are not eligible to participate in sports during their absence.

Lower School students are expected to log in for Morning Meeting each day via the Google link their teacher provides. The teacher will determine if the student needs to log in for any additional class time and will provide the appropriate instructions and links via email.

Upper School students are required to log in at the start of each block period or class for attendance. The teacher will then determine how long the student is expected to remain online.

Cultural Intelligence Task Force

August 27, 2021
By Paul Williams

At Traders Point Christian Schools, we are committed to providing a school environment that is Christ-centered, welcoming, and supportive of all students, staff, and faculty regardless of ethnic or national origin. We believe that each person was created uniquely by God with individual talents, strengths and attributes that are to be used for His glory. Our leadership understands the importance of training our next generation to think critically, speak intelligently, and respond biblically on issues related to ethnic diversity.

TPCS is committed to embracing the different ethnic backgrounds that reflect our school community and recognize their importance in fulfilling our mission. This commitment is supported through various efforts such as 

  • A strategic partnership with Mosaix, a relational network of leaders, educators, authors, and researchers alike, that exist to establish healthy multiethnic, economically diverse, and culturally intelligent organizations, that express a credible witness of God’s love for all people.
  • Professional development and training for our Board of Directors, Administration, Staff, and Faculty, that stresses the importance of cultural sensitivity in order to carry out our mission and to reflect our values.
  • Ongoing opportunities for student and parent input regarding the effectiveness of our ethnic diversity efforts

 

Cultural Intelligence Task Force

This school-based committee is made up of parents, administrators, and school board members, providing open dialogue and the development of strategies to ensure ethnic diversity in our school community. We would like to expand the makeup of the taskforce and encourage families of all ethnic or national heritage to consider being part of the team. If you would like to be a part of this task force please contact my Executive Assistant, Melissa Underwood at munderwood@tpcs.org

COVID Count Update

TPCS COVID Related Absence Learning Plan

Students with a COVID+ absence will be provided the opportunity for online learning within three days of a parent notifying the school. Online learning will remain available for up to 14 days. Attendance will be taken and will count towards the student's record.

Lower School students are expected to log in for Morning Meeting each day via the Google link their teacher provides. The teacher will determine if the student needs to log in for any additional class time and will provide the appropriate instructions and links via email.

Upper School students are required to log in at the start of each block period or class for attendance. The teacher will then determine how long the student is expected to remain online.

 

Off and Running

August 20, 2021
By Paul Williams

The TPCS school year got off to a great start. One of the things that have been such a blessing is seeing parents in the buildings and the stands. We all missed that sense of community last year. It was evident on the faces of our families that you are glad to return to the campus, and we are delighted to welcome you.

Last year felt like a cross country race with all its potential pitfalls, inclines, woods to navigate, and intolerable mosquitos. Runners can often feel alone as they navigate the course without seeing those they are running with or those who are cheering them on. We hope never to have to repeat that.  This year feels more like a grand marathon. We not only have a much more level and open course, but the runners can also see and feel the support of those who are cheering them on.

God has blessed you with the children you have, and it is valuable for you to be in close contact with them and their teachers. We, the faculty and staff, are only partners in this process of education. God gave the responsibility for each child to their parents. You are their greatest cheerleader even when it feels like they are not listening.

So let’s make sure that those running the race hear loudly the encouraging cheers of those who are optimistic for their successful completion. Let’s let our kids and teachers see and hear us cheering them on. Let’s let them know that while we recognize the struggle of the race, we are optimistic that they can not only finish but finish well. 

 

New COVID+ Cases

Week of 8/9-8/13                  8/16-8/20                  

EC              0                                 0                  

LS              0                                  0                  

US             0                                  0                  

Staff          0                                  1                  

Dept.         #                                 +                           %

EC            176                              0                         0.00%

LS            240                              0                          0.00%

US           183                              0                          0.00%

Staff        103                             1                           0.97%

 

 


 

 

In the Likeness of God

August 13, 2021
By Paul Williams

There are a lot of complex concepts to grasp in this world. Some people devote their lives to studying the origin of the universe. Others look to understand the expanse of the universe and its complex patterns, while others dedicate their lives to finding cures for the many diseases that plague humanity. 

There are many concepts in the Bible that perplex humankind, and God knew they would. Isaiah 55:8-9  8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” But one that I think most people, especially young people, grapple with is found in Genesis 5: 1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  You and I are created in the likeness of God. God could have created man in any form He wanted, but He chose His likeness. What that says to me is that we are important!

Many of our students and parents struggle with their self-image. Hold onto this thought today. You are created in the image of God. You are great just the way you are. Don’t let the world tell you how you should look or how you should act. If we focus and devote our lives to being more like Him, we’ll be just fine. Let’s help our kids be satisfied as image-bearers of God.

COVID Update – Parental Choice

We plan to keep our families updated on the COVID activity within our school community. When the school leadership developed the COVID plan for this year, they considered many factors, including the Governor’s guidance for decision making, the CDC recommendations, Boone County recommendations, our local school experience, parental authority, and the physical, mental, and emotional health of our students. From these many factors, the Board of Directors elected to be “mask optional” at this time. The underpinning for this decision is the philosophical position that if not mandated by law, the decision to wear masks should be left to parental choice. The school board will continue to monitor and revisit this decision regularly and, if necessary, make adjustments to the plan.

We have one LS student who was COVID+ before the start of school but did not attend classes. This student will finish out their quarantine before coming to school. As of Thursday, August 12, we do not have any confirmed COVID+ cases in students attending school. We have a teacher that is a household close contact to a COVID+ and will quarantine for 14 days as outlined in our plan.

A Year of Growth

August 07, 2021
By Paul Williams

Have you seen the corn out there? This will be my fourth harvest in Indiana and I have not seen the corn this tall before. I am sure the heavy early rains have something to do with the growth. On the flip side, the past eighteen months have felt stifling in so many ways. We saw marginal growth academically for our kids. We did not grow in our enrollment. The change that we did see in our kids and faculty was in soft skills. We saw kids grow in their resilience, grit, and other intangible but essential ways. Our faculty grew in their pedagogy (content presentation styles).

But this year is going to be a fantastic year in clear ways. I have shared with our staff that I believe this is to be a year of growth for all. We started school last year with 524 kids. This year we are over 590 students to kick things off. We have grown in the number of faculty and staff.

We desire for all to grow in their knowledge of who God is. Therefore, our theme for this year is “To know Him.” John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. We believe that all men are created in the image of God, so we want our kids to know God in His many attributes. We want our kids to grow in their relationship with Christ. We want our kids to grow in their biblical worldview and resolve. We desire that our kids will be able to follow Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

We want our kids to grow in their relationships with their families, teachers, and peers. We plan for your kids to grow in their scholarship, leadership. Our prayer is that this is a year of growth for all of our TPCS community.

Oneness in Christ

May 26, 2021
By Paul Williams

A year that began with a global pandemic and racial unrest did not catch God by surprise. This year has been full of challenges for all but not equally for all. Some have experienced loss as a result of COVID. Some have endured racial tensions. Many have experienced anxiety in new and uncomfortable ways. God in his sovereignty knows our plight and is ever-present in our time of need. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1).

This week marks the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd. His death, along with other African-Americans, sparked a level of racial unrest not seen since Martin Luther King's time. For COVID and racial unrest, TPCS made a significant effort to be prepared and manage through these times.

During the summer of 2020 a group of our families who have children of color, approached the administration, and asked how we are equipping our staff and students on the topic of social equity. We quickly formed a Cultural Intelligence task force made up of parents, administration, and board members. TPCS engaged the services of a consulting group called Mosaix out of Little Rock, Arkansas. In the fall, Mosaix took all of our faculty and staff through a Cultural Quotient assessment. This assessment concluded with a six-hour professional development training on November 30. Mosaix led us through the results of our evaluation and where we as a faculty and staff can grow. We discussed the multiple aspects of cultural intelligence and how responding without cultural sensitivity diminishes our ability to carry out our mission.

The TPCS Board of Directors also completed the assessment and professional development this spring and has agreed to continue funding these efforts for school employees and our Cultural Intelligence task force which will complete the training later this summer. The board continues its efforts to expand its cultural intelligence by joining our leadership team and school families in reading Ben Watson's book Under our Skin, a book about getting real about race relations. If you are interested in joining the book reading, please reach out to Melissa Underwood at munderwood@tpcs.org

These are challenging times. When faced with challenges, I always turn to the Scriptures. Psalm 133:1 says 1 How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! We are called to unity amongst believers because of our oneness in Christ. Galatians 3:28 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. So, as we go our separate ways this summer, let's remember our unity and oneness in Christ.

We pray for safety, rest, revitalization, and unification this summer for all our TPCS family. We love you and look forward to coming back together in August to start a new year unified around our efforts to provide an excellent Kingdom education for our students.

A Time to Celebrate

May 21, 2021
By Paul Williams

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. Proverbs 17:6 KJV

Children are a gift from God, and our grandchildren, nieces, and nephews are too. When little ones join our family by birth or adoption, we know that He formed them and knows each one of them personally (Psalms 139: 13-16) and that He loves them so much that He has angels assigned especially to them (Matthew 18:10).

Graduation is a time to celebrate those children. This year we will be honoring 26 seniors on Saturday, May 29th at 4:00 pm. It is an honor to partner with parents in raising a new generation of young people who will impact the world for Christ. This year's senior class has many things to celebrate. We have nine graduating with high honors – 3.75 or higher GPA, four with honors - 3.25-3.74 GPA, eight Honor Society members, 26 who played sports, and two involved in performing arts. These seniors have contributed much to TPCS over their high school careers, and I believe that they will do the same in the communities when they leave here.

So now it is time to celebrate their graduation with their parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives, faculty, and friends. Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV) tells us that there is A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; So let's laugh, cry, dance, and pray with our seniors and their parents as they launch them into this next stage of their lives.

Congratulations seniors, we love you and pray for God's blessing in your lives!!!

Count Your Blessings

May 14, 2021
By Paul Williams

When growing up in the church, I recall singing the song “Count Your Many Blessings.” As a young boy, the truth of the lyrics did not have a significant impact. But like so many things like this in our youth we don’t realize how true those words can be until we become an adult. For all of us, the last fifteen months have been hard. Hard emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a follower of Christ, I know that He works the greatest in our lives in the crucible of life. But it is still hard.

While recognizing how hard it has been, I am drawn back to the words of this song.  

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

 

I want to mention just a few of the blessings that God gave TPCS during this season.

  • Held a special outdoor graduation for the class of 2020, allowing them to march across a stage to receive their diplomas
  • Launched and ran a successful capital campaign ($1.6 million raised) for a new Jr High building
  • Broke ground and built a new Jr High building in eight months
  • Completed ACSI accreditation and hosted an evaluation team to receive full accreditation for the next five years
  • Continued to offer a robust academic program during the pandemic
  • Continued athletics and fine arts under challenging conditions
  • Preformed a spring musical and spring concert
  • Granted an astonishing gift of $1.5 million over five years towards the buildout and execution of our vision for academic rigor.
  • Held a successful Prom for our high school
  • We get to proclaim Jesus Christ and His saving grace freely within our school
  • We get to praise and worship Christ in our chapels and programs
  • We have great facilities
  • We have incredible teachers and staff who have persevered through this challenging season

 

It is easy to get focused on the challenges that are coming our way. I encourage you to take a step back and count your many blessings and see what God has done for you over these last fifteen months. Praise be to God for His generous gifts!

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Traders Point Christian Schools admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.