7 Questions with Dan Nester

Name: Dan Nester

Current title: Founder & President

Current organisation: The Mustard Seed Education Foundation

I went to Catholic schools my whole life. My wife and I committed early in our marriage to send our kids to Catholic schools. After working in the corporate world for 13 years, I started my own company, Polaris Logistics Group, in 2013. The success of the company allowed my wife, Tammi, and I to found The Mustard Seed in 2018.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?

The benefits of Catholic schools far outweigh the costs. But it is challenging to convince people of that sometimes.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I am the President of my company. So I lead my team in trying to grow the company. Interspersed with that I am also trying to grow my non-profit, The Mustard Seed.

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

I've learned to balance more with less. We had a very tough 2020. But we bounced back and grew late in the year. Many people will say they are too busy for this or that. But you always have time. You just need to manage it better.

4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a great book that helped me so much. It is full of tidbits that are basically common sense, but are presented in a way to help you understand them better. The book is 90 years old, but the message is timeless.

5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?

My organization does not recruit teachers. But we recruit donors and volunteers. The key is to live your Faith and to "put your money where your mouth is".

6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

For my company, Polaris, we offer one paid day off per year for an employee to go volunteer in the community. We will also donate to the cause that the employee champions. We are trying to instill a sense of volunteerism in our employees.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a Christian school leader so far?

One of our scholarships is called The Scholarship of the Offering. It is based on the Gospel story of "The Widow's Mite". That passage inspired a scholarship to help a single parent send their child to Catholic school. My wife's father died when she was 12. She shouldn't have been able to continue at Catholic school. But her mother figured out a way. We try to help others in a similar situation keep their kids in Catholic schools.