7 Questions with Scott Vandenberg
Name: Scott Vandenberg
Current title: Principal
Current organisation: Providence Christian School in the US
Scott has worked in Christian schools, Distributed Learning (blended home school and classroom), and public schools. He earned a Masters in Administration & Leadership and a Masters in Educational Leadership. His passion is training - training children in experiential learning and training parents & teachers in good practices.
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
Poor training and support for administration and teachers. I keep thinking of Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." If we don't train students in the way they should go (alongside the church and home) - then they may go in all sorts of wrong directions. The same goes for staff - they will follow the vision & mission of the school if they are guided, taught, and led by example.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My ideal work day starts after a good night's rest and an early arrival to school before staff and students arrive. Spending time in prayer and the Word - followed by reviewing my calendar and appointments for the day. Due to distractions, I tend to set alarms on my watch (vibrating) to remind me when to get going to my next appointment or kindly excuse myself from the current one.
Making a point of visiting a few classrooms, interacting with students, and thanking volunteers is a goal for each day. Reminding myself that there is a lot of work that could be done, I need to get home and spend time with my wife and family. If they are otherwise engaged in their own work, I might sneak in a little work. Getting to bed on time has become more and more important as I face the ups and downs in the day.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Burning out hurts you and all those who are connected with you. I am just coming out of the "dark" after complete burn out 2.5 years ago. From this, I encourage: commitment to boundaries on work time and rest, do the best I can and not worry or fret about work I can't get done (it will always be there), take care of God's temple (you!), and pray...pray...pray!
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?
"Simplify" by Bill Hybels is a book that I studied with an admin team that I worked with almost a decade ago. The one thing that I should have applied sooner - is erasing the calendar and put in the priorities. If God and family are top priorities, then they should have a designated slot on your calendar. Put appointments and work around those commitments and you will find that you are in control of your calendar as opposed to others.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
Finding great Christian teachers tends to happen through prayerful searching and connecting with colleagues and friends in leadership at other schools. Networking is very important for finding the best candidates.
Keeping great teachers happens through encouragement and support. Any colleagues who I have worked with appreciate being collaborated with, a pat on the back often, and offering support in areas that they might ask or seem to need help in. Like with the students, getting to know them - their background & life situation - helps you to understand them and through building that relationship - grow in learning together!
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Model balance and strive for Christ-like behavior. As I have stated in previous questions, demonstrate boundaries and keep your priorities straight...and encourage this for every staff member. And if we continue to delve into God's Word and see the example He set for us, we can hopefully model this and show a servant-like leadership that rubs off on all those who surround you.
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 had long encouraged the admin team that I was a part of - to have an Administrative retreat. To spend time relaxing, getting to know each other more, and grow. Little did I know that just a few years later as we started practicing these retreats, that a pastor who joined us - would speak prophetically to each of us - sharing how God led him to connect us to Biblical characters.
This pastor said that I was like Joseph...going through hardship and things would get pretty dark...but God continues to watch over me and have an amazing plan for my life. This couldn't have been more true as I went through burn out and just now am coming out of it. God by my side and gently encouraging me on in the next phase of my educational journey.