Innovation Christian schools in the 21st century face complex challenges and opportunities. GCSLS 2019 will focus on innovation—or developing adaptive solutions to these challenges and opportunities. The goal of innovation in Christian schools is a dynamic and excellent education for students, that is aligned with the way they are created—in God’s image, uniquely fashioned, and called to good works (Ephesians 2:10)—and that prepares them for God’s restorative work in their generation.

Christian education is in need of innovation in the areas of teaching, learning, and spiritual formation; the missional use of technology; engaging the culture for good; diversity and inclusion; and next generation leadership. Along with catalyzing innovation, these areas form the themes of the Summit. Each them is described below in terms of a central question, in order to invite Summit participants to explore ideas, share best practices, and generate solutions for the Christian school of today—and tomorrow.


Girien Salazar

Girien (pronounced “Gideon”) Salazar serves as the Director of the Faith and Education Coalition for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). Prior to serving in this capacity, Girien taught English at a Christian school in Mexico, served as a member of the Naval Reserves including two deployments, and worked as Associate Professor for Latin American Bible Institute in San Antonio, TX. He is a board member for the Latin American Heritage Society, and a former community liaison for Grace Tabernacle Church and former city official for San Antonio Parks and Recreation. He is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, teaches and preaches at El Tabernáculo Church in Houston, TX, and is a third-year PhD student in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University. Girien holds a B.S. in Church Ministry and a M.A. in Theological Studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University.


Nigel Genders

The Reverend Nigel Genders is the Church of England's Chief Education Officer and has lead responsibility for the development of the Church's national strategies and policies for education in schools, colleges and universities. The Church of England provides 4,700 schools, educating one million children across the country. Nigel’s role in education has developed throughout 26 years of ordained ministry working in a variety of roles, including: vicar, school chaplain, governor, director of education for Canterbury Diocese, head of School Policy for the Church of England and he has been Chief Education Officer since 2014. He has led the Church of England Education Office through a period of transformational change leading to a vision-centric approach to national education policy.


Aimee Gruber

Aimee Gruber is the Senior Director of Global Outreach for the Enrollment Management Association. Her decades-long commitment to the private school admission and enrollment industry gives her a first-hand understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing schools. Before joining The Enrollment Management Association in 2006, Aimee was associate director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) where she managed professional development workshops, organized international student recruitment fairs in Asia, developed marketing materials about boarding schools, and represented TABS worldwide. Prior to her position at TABS, Aimee worked in admission at The White Mountain School (NH), Tilton School (NH), and the Webb School of Knoxville (TN). She served on the board of the Independent Educational Consultants Association foundation and is a recipient of the Western Boarding Schools Association's Hilton Award for outstanding contributions to the association.


Chris Horst

Chris Horst is the vice president of development at HOPE International, where he employs his passion for advancing initiatives at the intersection of faith and work. Chris serves on the boards of the Denver Institute for Faith & Work and the Mile High WorkShop. He loves to write, having been published in The Denver Post and Christianity Today and co-authoredMission Drift, Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing, andRooting for Rivals with Peter Greer. Christianity Today, WORLD Magazine, and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association named Mission Drift a book of the year in 2015. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and an MBA from Bakke Graduate University.

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Bill Latham

Bill Latham is the CEO of MeTEOR Education, an organization that works with communities to inspire and create holistic, High-impact Learning Experiences that fully engage today’s students and teachers. Mr. Latham works with leading organizations in the fields of learning environment design, neuroscience, and education leadership to develop deeper understanding of how best to support students and teachers to learn deeply in real-world collaborative spaces. In their work with over 1000 schools in the U.S. (designing classrooms, school buildings, and broader school systems), his and his team’s designs have led to measurable increases in basic literacy, collaborative learning, and complexity of student tasks at all grade levels. A founder of the International EdShift Conference and a co-author of the book Humanizing the Education Machine, he is an Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP) and works as faculty with the Association for Learning Environments in the area of integration of pedagogy and space.


Rex Miller

Rex Miller is the lead author for Humanizing the Education Machine, which tells the story of what great 21st-century learning looks like and how to bring that dynamic into schools. His company, MindShift, has tackled numerous large and complex problems, including the waste and adversarial culture of the construction industry and the chronic problem of workplace disengagement. His two books from these projects have both won international awards for innovation and excellence. His current project examines ways to create a healthy workplace in schools (www.rexmiller.com).

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Andrew Neuwmann

Andrew Neumann is an educational entrepreneur driven to ensure all children in America have access to excellent learning opportunities which maximize their potential to fulfill their greater purpose and live flourishing lives. In 2006, he joined Open Sky Education (formerly Educational Enterprises) and serves to support the team to advance its mission by growing its school networks (HOPE Christian Schools and EAGLE College Prep public charter schools), Christian wraparound programs (Compass Educational Programs), and Character Formation Project. His passion is to contribute to building an educational ecosystem in America which will provide world-class academics, build deeply-held internally-driven character, and provide faith-formation as an integral part of education for all who desire it regardless of a family’s income or location. Andrew also serves on the boards of mission-aligned organizations including School Choice Wisconsin, the Alliance for Choices in Education and the Institute for Missional Visioning.

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David Urban

David Urban is cofounder and chief operating officer of Charter Oak Research. He consults regularly in both K–12 and higher education admissions, marketing, and development. He presents regularly on educational trends and best practices both in the U.S. and internationally. David was the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP) Admissions Officer of the Year in 2010. He is a graduate (BS, MBA.) of Eastern University.

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Joel R. Gaines

Joel R. Gaines serves as the high school principal at The City School in Philadelphia. He graduated from Philadelphia Biblical University (Cairn University) with a BS in education and biblical studies, and earned his MEd in education from Cabrini University. Joel has served in multiple roles over the past 10 years in both Christian and public education, and in both urban and suburban settings.


Elizabeth Dombrowski

Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the executive director of CLC Network, where she serves as a champion for ability inclusion in schools and churches. She has a background in fundraising and nonprofit administration, serving at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago for nine years, and at CLC Network since 2012. Her calling to CLC Network and lifelong advocacy for places of belonging for persons with varied abilities are the backbone to her thoughtful and creative leadership of an organization that is transforming communities nationwide. Elizabeth received her bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and is currently studying for her master’s degree at Grand Valley State University.


Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill is the Author of White Awake and 10:10: Life to the Fullest, and is the Founding and Senior Pastor of River City Community Church, located in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. The vision of River City is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. Formed in 2003, River City longs to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. Prior to starting River City, Daniel was part of a series of dot.com startups in the 90s before serving 5 years on the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Daniel has his B.S. in Business from Purdue University, his M.A. in Theology from Moody Bible Institute, his certificate in Church-based Community and Economic Development from Harvard Divinity School, and his D.Min. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.


Walter Strickland

Dr. Walter R. Strickland II is the Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology and Associate Vice President for Diversity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Born in Chicago and raised in Southern California, Walter’s passion is to equip people to flourish in their context from a deep commitment to God’s design. Prof. Strickland’s interests include contextual and systematic theology, African American religious history, multicultural studies, education theory, and theology of work. Along with being a diversity consultant, frequent conference speaker, and itinerant preacher, Walter contributes to Canon & Culture as an associate Research Fellow of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Gospel Project, and the Biblical Recorder (the North Carolina Baptist state newspaper). Walter’s work has also appeared in Christianity Today, Baptist Press, World Magazine and his first book entitled Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians was released in March of 2016. He holds a B.A. from Cedarville University, M.Div. and Th.M. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).


Maria Varlet

Maria Varlet currently serves as the Head of Research & Innovation at Crest Education in Melbourne and is a Board Member for ACSI Australia. She has been involved in Christian Education for over 25 years, holding positions of Head of Learning & Teaching, Campus Principal and Executive Officer for Christian Schools Australia. Her doctoral research investigates how professional learning can help teachers navigate tensions between biblical ethos and assessment practices in the Christian school context.


Christina Crook

Christina Crook’s book, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, has made her leading voice on technology and human flourishing. Through her writing and speaking she reveals how key shifts in our thinking can enable us to draw closer to one another, taking up the good burdens of local work and responsibilities. She writes about the value of focus, making space to create, and the meaning we find in more limited connections. She challenges the Western values of power, control, and success, revealing how wonder, trust, and discipline are central to the experience of being human and the keys to our joy. Learn more about Christina at >www.christinacrook.com.


Beth Green

Dr. Beth Green, FRSA, is a Senior Fellow at the faith-based think tank CARDUS>. Beth’s expertise is in Christian school ethos; leadership and management; teaching and learning and social theory in education. At CARDUS Education she led a program to enrich the public conversation with credible data on the impact of the religious school sector on graduate outcomes. Dr. Green is a former high school teacher and a graduate of Oxford, Cambridge and London universities.


Jay Ferguson

Jay Ferguson, J.D., PhD is the Head of School of Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas. Jay is in his 16th year as head of Grace. Since that time, Jay has worked to build a flourishing culture at Grace, a vibrant educational community that has been awarded Blue Ribbon Exemplary status by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015 and 2017. He is an adjunct professor at Covenant College and at Gordon College, and recently served on the adjunct faculties of the Van Lunen Center at Calvin College and at Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. Jay is currently President of the Board of the Texas Private School Association, the Chair of the Board of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability, and serves on the executive board of the Association of Christian Schools International.

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Nate Johnson

Nathan Johnson has studied education throughout his academic career (at Furman, CIU, and Vanderbilt Universities). Based off of his studies, international living, and passion for bridging cultures and sharing the love of God, he founded the Charleston Bilingual Academy as a pilot school for Christian, intercultural, language immersion education. Nathan is also the co-founder of the Clapham Group, an educational think tank and consulting firm.


Erin Wilcox

Dr. Erin Wilcox is the Assistant Vice President for Academic Services at ACSI, where she is responsible for accreditation, certification, and international student programs. Before coming to ACSI, she served as the Associate Superintendent at Colorado Springs Christian Schools, where she oversaw the instructional program at four campuses as well as developed a hybrid program and online courses. She has also taught computers and special education at the Alliance Academy in Quito, Ecuador, as well as the Dalat School in Penang, Malaysia. She holds an Ed.D. in educational administration from Bethel University in St. Paul, an M.A. in instructional leadership from the University of Alabama, and a B.S. in special education from Illinois State University.


Dan Beerens

Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), as an adjunct professor at Dordt College, and represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press).