7 Questions with Jerry Eshleman
Name: Dr. Jerry Eshleman
Current title: Superintendent
Current organisation: Resurrection Christian School
Dr. Jerry Eshleman has served in Christian education for nearly 27 years. He is currently the Superintendent of Resurrection Christian Schools, in Loveland, Colorado. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Christian School Administration and Teaching from Evangel University, and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Oral Roberts University. Dr. Eshleman earned his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in neuroscience from Oklahoma State University.
He has worked and taught in K-12 schools and universities both nationally and internationally.
His areas of expertise and research include leadership studies, school law, organization and administration of schools, brain-based learning, emotion and cognition, and the neuropsych mechanisms involved in learning and decision-making.
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
I would have to say the declining levels of Christian worldview and depth of Biblical foundation in our students' homes. We are a covenantal school, but struggle more than I would like to find families who have more depth. They seem to get by in the interview process, but from there, as life's issues happen, it is shocking and disappointing to see the choices and reactions that are made.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start my day with a 45 min workout. I get into the office around 6:45 to 7am. We have an inverted flow chart. Ours is not the typical pyramidal shape. It is more of upside down triangle, with my position at the bottom. Therefore the more responsibility one has, the lower on the chart they get. With this is in mind, I am there to serve all. I keep my door open. I usually get at least an hour a day seeing and being seen around campus. I try to give 1-2 to myself. I don't take lunches and eat at my desk. My job is to clear obstacles for others to do theirs. I end the day with a devo and professional reading. I read 5 books at a time, one for each night of the week on a different theme. Monday - management & leadership, Tuesday - tech integration/innovation, Wednesday - Christian Worldview, Thursday - teaching/learning, Friday - school finance/law/governance.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I recently took over the headship of the school I am presently in. I would say a recent lesson I have re-learned is the skill of better understanding the new culture and community you find yourself in. God gives you twice as many ears as you have mouths. That should tell you something.
4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Hard to narrow that down. One that is a standout among many is Seven Decisions by Andy Andrews. It is a powerful read and focuses on 7 simple, "core values" one must possess. Those 7 decisions are:
1 Don’t blame others. Take responsibility.
2 Seek wisdom from others, both past, and present.
3 Become a person of action.
4 Be decisive.
5 Choose to be happy.
6 Be forgiving.
7 Persist without exception.
The above items are skills every leader needs every day, often every hour. Andrews presents these, with no theory nor extravagance. You just have to do it!
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
I believe you must involve them. Openly encourage and openly value their input. Pay them well. Love and communicate with them, the way THEY need it. We have every teacher complete the MBTI and also one on their temperament (ie melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine or choleric). We then post their personality and temperament next to their name on our internal phone directory so you know exactly who you are calling, about to confront, asking to be on a committee with you, etc.
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Honestly, for me, it is finding people on my executive team or among my staff that are good at thinking of ways to refresh our staff. I know we need it, but I am frankly not good at it by nature. I really don't need many breaks and I get total satisfaction from doing my job. I even remember laughing out loud when, in my interview for this school, the board asked what I did for self-care. Again, I know we all need it. I have a great cadre of people on staff who are gifted at service and hospitality. They are also well-connected to the staff and can best advise on what event, activity or act of appreciation would be best.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?
I would have to say navigating the waters of this pandemic. From March to present, it has been an amazing journey of not only working with staff to solve the challenges, but pausing with them and reflecting on what they have learned and how they have changed. We have worked on both reflection on action and reflection in action. Leadership is NOT developed with theoretical discussions. Although we do walk through a leadership book each year as an executive team. Rather though, leadership is developed while actually doing the stuff AND pausing consistently to ask what just happened to us (as individuals and corporately as a family).