At the beginning of the 21st century, education has become a focus of public discussion and political debate. Throughout North America, education is experiencing seismic changes. New technologies, redesigned curricula, innovative instructional practices, state and national educational standards and high-stakes testing are changing what teachers teach and how students learn. Creating quality schools where students can thrive in a safe campus environment is crucial, but increasingly difficult in a fractured society. The waves of school reform and academic change are shaking the educational landscape and straining already limited financial and human resources.
Adventist educators recognize that conducting school as usual will not guarantee success, let alone survival, for Seventh-day Adventist schools. To thrive in the 21st century, Adventist education must change as well. To effect change, it is vital that we identify and secure the unique characteristics of quality Adventist schools and then encourage innovation and planning for school improvement. It is imperative that Adventist education build on the strengths of the past to create a dynamic future that fulfills its divinely appointed mission and purpose.
The North American Division Office of Education is releasing a new publication that is the result of an initiative by educational leaders division wide to assist schools in planning for effective change. When they return from the 2003 summer recess, Adventist administrators and teachers will receive Journey to Excellence—a K-12 focus on improving Adventist schools.
Journey to Excellence is a full-color booklet and companion compact disc packaged in an attractive folder. It is anticipated that electronic access to the booklet on CD will encourage school leaders and teachers to utilize the materials and resources in developing their individual school and conference action plans for exemplary education. The CD also includes a self-executing presentation that introduces Journey to Excellence and active links to a variety of Internet resources, including a Web site being developed specifically for Adventist schools to share ideas and strategies for building quality Adventist schools.
Journey to Excellence is a wealth of information and resource material for creating exemplary Adventist schools so that they will continue to be vibrant and effective ministries for redeeming God’s youth. Journey to Excellence will help Adventist schools thrive in the 21st century. The publication and accompanying material will provide a solid foundation upon which Adventist education can develop new and creative programs and practices. Journey to Excellence reaffirms the special purpose and essential elements of Adventist education and combines these with resources to support innovation and change in preferred areas of educational practice.
Improving Adventist schools is the heart of this new NAD initiative. Journey to Excellence is about change that will result in exemplary Adventist schools.
Dennis Plubell is the North Pacific Union Conference associate director for secondary education and writes from Vancouver, Washington.