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7 Questions with Gareth Schuth
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Gareth Schuth
Name: Gareth Schuth
Current title: Headmaster
Current organisation: The Christian School of Grace Baptist Church
Gareth Schuth grew up in upstate New York near Rochester, NY, attending a mid-size high school and determined to teach instrumental music to high school students. Earning a B.S. in Music Education from Messiah College (now Messiah University in Grantham, PA) in 2005, he found himself enjoying life coaching volleyball, taking on some varied jobs in and out of education, and getting to know his beautiful wife Annie whom he married in 2007. After a single year of using his degree to teach music to elementary school students, Schuth transitioned to a middle school position at his church's Christian school teaching a broad range of subjects, with a focus on math and science. After 10 years loving the variety of the "jack-of-all-trades" teaching stint, Schuth was hired as the school's headmaster and continues to teach math.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader in the education sector?
Education is a service-minded profession. With a desire to serve well, it is often hard to make mission-minded decisions that are not always popular, either with staff or with our parent constituents.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My job as an administrator in a small Christian school is extremely irregular. While a school may have an office staff that takes care of specific areas of responsibility, my administrative assistant and I take care of most everything short of the teaching (which I also do for roughly half of my contracted day). Our mornings start with staff devotions at 7:15, which I have prepared for the night before. After taking care of entry duties in the morning, I lead my 6th grade students through devotions and will teach 3 classes of mathematics. At 11:00, life becomes almost entirely unstructured as varied and unpredictable challenges arise at every turn. I do spend every dinner with my family, and if I have no meetings or calls to make, bedtime routines for the kids follow. At 9:00pm, I try to set aside time for my own devotions and preparation for the next day. With any remaining energy, the computer comes out and I catch up on imminent items that need to be immediately addressed by the next day. Sleep follows when that is done - if my newborn allows it!
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
While leadership is appreciated and desired, there are often unhelpful and even dangerous assumptions associated with leadership. This means that sometimes a good leader is perceived as weak if he or she does not fit certain stereotypes of a fit leader. I worked for 10 years with an organization during the summer that tried to raise young people up as leaders, but it only served to encourage the loudest and strongest personalities to take charge while silencing the best thinkers and influencers. Leadership is shepherd-ship and the road of a servant leader is not cowardly, but difficult and often misunderstood. Effective and enduring leaders lead lives of service.
4. What's one book 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?
The first book my pastor and I read together when I accepted the position to lead our school was Al Mohler's "Conviction To Lead". Filled with sound doctrine and immensely practical guidance, this book is one that can be read and reread with much fruit.
5. How do you find and keep great leaders in the education sector?
Leadership is lonely. Leaders bear loads that others simply don't. To this end, finding leaders with healthy relationships that are intact is essential. Successful leaders are always supported. To have a wife who is on board with our school's mission and my place in it, and to have a school board that has undergirded my work from my first day, makes my work possible!
6. What's most important as a leader in the education sector for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Any culture has to be built around common truth and common goals. Our staff and school families share the common mission to educate children "for time and eternity". Wellbeing in our school is predicated on the right relationship with God; all other things flow from that relationship. Leadership in my area of education means making sure our students know their teachers love them enough to tell them the truth and to walk beside them. Leaders must be the first to emulate this relationship by serving and sacrificing.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader in the education sector so far?
The best stories are those that end in a "thank you". It is the teacher's greatest blessing to have a student, particularly one who may have struggled - or who was a struggle to teach! - take time to express their gratitude for the influence you had on them. These expressions of thanks "fill the tank" of the educator and inspire them to press on and upward!