7 Questions with Nathan Teigland

Name: Nathan Teigland

Current title: Principal

Current organisation: Southeast Christian School in Colorado

I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs but never in a million years had considered going into education. Through the years, I have had some incredible mentors and experiences that have brought me to where I am now. After graduating from Evangel University in 2001, I accepted a position as an associate pastor in the Denver area. During this time I was able to attend Denver Seminary and, in 2006, I transitioned out of pastoral ministry and entered Christian education as a chaplain.

I fell in love with the environment and have not looked back. In 2017 I completed my Master's in Education (Leadership Emphasis) from Cairn University and was also able to complete ACSI's Leadership U. Both programs allowed me to further equip myself and to better serve those around me. In 2017, I left the classroom and started my career as a K-8 Administrator.

God has blessed me with a loving wife (18 years) and 3 incredible children. Every day I am amazed at how He has worked to bring me into this field and I count it a blessing to serve in this way!

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

I believe that one of our most pressing challenges today is demonstrating the value and necessity of a Christian education to our modern culture. Voddie Baucham Jr. said it well..."We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.” I think that there is a subversive undertone and cultural theology that has worked its way into the church and into homes. Christian leaders need to hold fast to the necessity of a biblical, Christ-centered education; teaching students to recognize Truth and to truly own their faith. Then, taking that faith into the culture to lead, redeem, and rescue those around them.

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

At this point in life, I still struggle with finding balance - a large part of that is having 3 small kids at home. I wake up and work to find some time for myself to pause and reflect on the challenges of the day, asking God to guide and lead. My role means that I am often on call to support my team so I work to set appointments on my calendar throughout the day to reset, call families, and deal with pressing concerns. If I don't make that time for myself, others will fill it with their agenda. I work to protect my evenings to have time with my family as best as possible.

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

Don't be an island! We all know this but often neglect it. My philosophy of leadership centers around valuing those around me. I am not an expert in every area - no one is. I need to continually ask for help and empower those around me to lead.

Also, don't hold onto things too tightly. This world is not our home. The current pandemic highlights the reality that things can change in a moment. Do what matters for eternity.

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?

Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge (Henry Cloud). The emphasis on continual communication has been something that I revisit regularly. His insights on the neuroscience behind leadership are insightful and necessary for those who lead teams. It is a must read!

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

Finding seems to be more of a challenge than keeping. We have a very broad net that we cast and have developed a pretty rigorous application process to ensure teachers fit our culture and environment. We don't always get it right and that's okay. Our goal is to continually coach staff toward greatness. We are willing to invest in those who show potential. Keeping those who are already great is a high priority. We work to place them into leadership/mentor roles and to demonstrate our appreciation through various means (extra PTO, gifts, public recognition).

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

Listening! To me, the greatest single indicator of success is how well you listen to your people. This takes an immense amount of work. You have to be available, proactive, and intentional. Sometimes listening involves digging into the data or surveying your constituents to get a better grasp of what is going on. In my experience, when people know that they have a voice that is valued, they will serve tirelessly to benefit the organization.

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?

We recently had a family suffer a tragic loss. To see the way our community came together, circled around this family, and loved them through this time was incredible. The school did this so well that the local news station came and interviewed the school to help spread the word about this family's needs. What started out as something that our school embraced, became a city-wide campaign.