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Baylor’s Center for Christian Education to Host inaugural Academy for Transformational Leadership [06/19/2019]


The Baylor Center for Christian Education (CCE) will host the inaugural Academy for Transformational Leadership conference June 23-25 in Waco. The Academy is a professional development forum for leaders of preK-12 Christian schools who want to explore the philosophical, clinical and theological foundations of Christian schools and the role leadership plays within that environment.

Attendees will include more than 125 heads of public and private schools, including principals, school board members, financial managers and the directors of enrollment, marketing and spiritual life. This year’s theme is “The Essentials of Christian Educational Leadership.” During the course of three days, topics will include collaborative leadership, Christian education and its purpose, developing future leaders, managing institutional change for greater faithfulness, the primary role of the Christian school leader, effective board leadership, and development and fundraising.


Dr. Matt Thomas, Executive Director

“It’s no secret that leading Christian schools has become more challenging than ever before,” said Dr. Matt Thomas, executive director of the CCE. “In fact, today’s Christian school leader faces issues and concerns that weren’t even a thought 25 years ago.”

Keynote speaker for this year is Dr. Michael Lindsay, a Baylor alumnus and the President of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. Lindsay’s Monday evening topic is “A Legacy of Influence: Developing the Next Generation of Christian Leaders.”

A scholar and educational leader who has lectured on five continents, Lindsay earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University and graduate theological degrees from Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Baylor, where he was named Outstanding Young Alumnus. His book, Faith in the Halls of Power, was nominated for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and his most recent book, View from the Top, won two awards and has been translated into Chinese and Japanese.

Other General Session speakers include Dr. Jay Ferguson, Head of School at Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas; Dr. Thomas Kidd, Baylor distinguished professor of history; Dr. Matt Thomas, executive director of the Center for Christian Education at Baylor; and Dr. Jon Eckert, who will be installed during the conference as the inaugural holder of The Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair in Christian School Leadership within the Baylor School of Education.

As the inaugural Chair, Eckert will help lay the academic foundations of the CCE and serve as the intellectual cornerstone for many of its programs. In his first function as the Copple Chair, he will deliver the address during the Academy’s welcome dinner on Sunday evening. He joins the faculty full time on August 1.

The newly established Endowed Chair in Christian School Leadership was made possible through a gift from Lynda and Robert Copple of Frisco. The Copples are long-time Baylor supporters and members of the National Campaign Steering Committee for Give Light, Baylor’s recently announced $1.1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“Dr. Jon Eckert is a compelling, leading voice in Christian education, and we are excited for his vision for the Center for Christian Education and the opportunities the School of Education has to provide critical support and resources to Christian educators,” said School of Education Interim Dean Terrill Saxon, Ph.D. “We are grateful for Robert and Lynda Copple. Their generous decision to provide lasting, sustaining support for Christian educators through the prestigious Copple Chair gave us the resources needed to bring the caliber of faculty needed to help shape a bright future for the School of Education.”

Eckert previously served as Professor of Education at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., where he has taught as a member of the faculty since 2009. He has taught at the primary and secondary school levels and served as a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow for the U.S. Department of Education in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Eckert holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Organization from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. He received his master’s degree in education from Benedictine University, and his bachelor of arts degree in Elementary Education from Wheaton College.

Other speakers and panel discussion participants during the ATL conference include: Greg Davis, associate vice president for development at Baylor; Michele Tigelaar, director of Development for the Baylor School of Education; Michelle Huse, director Human Relations Consulting at Baylor; Bill McGee, head of school for Legacy Christian Academy; Dr. Leanne Messer, head of school at Hyde Park Christian School; Dr. Dan Peterson, Head of School at Regents School of Austin; Dr. Tim Van Soelen, professor of Education at Dordt University; Amy Cozby, Head of School at Faith Academy Marble Falls; Dr. Beth Riley,
Head of School at Weatherford Christian School; and Dr. Matt Thomas, executive director of the Center for Christian Education at Baylor.

The inaugural CCE Academy coincides with the School of Education’s celebration of its 100th anniversary as a separate academic unit. For more than 100 years, Baylor graduates have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to Texas classrooms and beyond — as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education and sport management professionals, scholars and more.

“The Academy is our annual gathering where we support, train, inspire and encourage Christian school leaders,” Thomas said. “Whether you’re a head of school, a principal with aspirations of greater capacity for leadership, a director, or an administrator, this Academy is for you.”

For more information or to support the Academy for Transformational Leadership, visit

For more information or to support the Center for Christian Education at Baylor, visit

For more information or to support the Baylor School of Education, visit

For more information or to support Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit

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For more than 100 years Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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