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Growing the Next Generation of Leaders

What an exciting time to be part of the international Christian school community and ICSV! The excitement of my trip to Rwanda has not worn off, although the bacteria/parasite I brought back with me on the plane has dampened the enthusiasm a bit….sigh….

One reason that I was so excited to go and share with this group of eager Christian educators is because of my vision for ICSV. We have been an established international Christian school for years. We have a strong curriculum and staff. Our processes and procedures are efficient, and we have a solid financial foundation. In short, we need to start helping other fledgling and less experienced schools by sharing our expertise with others. We need to invest in the next generation of Christian school leaders so that they can continue to grow and improve our Christian schools.

Here at ICSV, we are seeking to grow our local talent, as well. We have so many gifted educational leaders right here in Vienna. In addition to our administrative team, we have those serving as department heads, coordinators of admissions, curriculum and instruction, the IB program, CAS, athletics, and more. Even those without an official leadership title are leading students in drama, music, student ministries, coaching, running clubs, etc. As director, I believe it is my responsibility to empower others as they learn and grow in their leadership abilities.

I want to share one specific example. Miss Christine Sipos is an amazing teacher of teachers. She has a passion for professional development and using data to drive instruction. This is the second year that she has served part-time as Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator. Miss Sipos also leads the Professional Development Committee. I know that it can be somewhat inconvenient to have the Wednesday half-days that we have set aside for professional development, but we are building a community that values professional growth and improvement. This week Miss Sipos was instrumental in getting world-renowned author and expert in using technology in the classroom to speak with us via Google Hangout. Matt Miller is author of “Ditch that Textbook,” a formative book for the BYOD movement. Matt desires for teachers to see connections between what the students need to learn and the specific features and benefits of the different tools available. He told Miss Sipos that we are well advanced in our use of technology compared to the other Christian schools with whom he has worked. Miss Sipos and the entire Professional Committee is doing a great job with providing training so that our teachers are equipped to meet the needs of our ICSV students every day in the classroom.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I believe it is part of my job to encourage others to fan into flame their leadership gifts. At ICSV we are so very fortunate to have such talented individuals who are willingly using their abilities for God’s service.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director

Amakuru? Nimeza!

This has been a most exciting week! I was invited to Kigali, Rwanda by the Head of School there, Dr. Ben Thomas, to help train administrators, many of whom did not have the privilege of any formal training. They came from East Africa, Indonesia, and even Asia. Dr. Thomas’ vision is to use trained administrators to serve as mentors to these leaders. After I return from my trip, I will stay in contact with two or three of those who attended to coach them in their roles.

I don’t know how much I’ve shared with you about the five years that my family spent living in Kenya. It has now been 15 years since I last stepped foot on African soil. For those that have been there, you will understand when I say that once you have lived in Africa, you can never truly leave it behind. The land and people are just so welcoming. Africa wedges itself into your heart so that you take of piece of it with you wherever you go. This accounts for some of my excitement in traveling to Rwanda.

When I arrived and met the people I would spend the week with, I knew that I would be the one who would be inspired by them. I may have more years spent in education and have completed more official degrees, but these brothers and sisters have “street smarts” and a true passion for what they are doing. I met one woman in her twenties who left New York to start preschools in Jakarta for families that could not even afford daycare. She has been there for five years. I met another woman who desperately wants to start a school in Somaliland where her family is being persecuted for their beliefs. Another young American athlete gave up the opportunity for fame and fortune to serve in the slums in Nairobi and in orphanages around the globe. One man is in charge of schools with over 1000 students in Burundi. Another is a pastor from Tanzania who wants to start a school where he lives. These people are champions for Christ!

During the morning before I interviewed for my first principal position, I had read from the letter that the Apostle Paul had written to the younger Timothy. He said to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.” At that time, I believe that God was telling me to fan into flame my administrative giftings, as prior to that time I had primarily been teaching. These words of encouragement and exhortation are still true for today. We need to encourage others like those who attended this week long session to fan into flame their leadership gifts. We have the responsibility to share out of our abundance with those around the world so that we can meet our mission of impacting the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What an honor it has been to travel to such an amazing country to “pass the torch” to these younger leaders who have dedicated their lives to serving God! Truly, I am blessed.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director

Where Am I?

I got up super early in order to leave my apartment by 4 in the morning. I was booked on a 6 am flight heading to the US for the annual ACSI Recruitment Fair. Things all went pretty well except for the vegetarian meals that I was forced to eat because the flight attendant insisted that I had ordered them. I apologize to all you vegetarians out there, but I really struggled with the curried tofu and cucumber and carrot sandwich. Needless to say, after about 18 hours of travel, I arrived to a violent thunderstorm and hail. No wonder the flight was so bumpy and my stomach was in a knot! (Well, maybe it was the food….) Anyways, I finally hopped into my rental car and plugged in the GPS that we always use when in the US. Nothing. It wouldn’t turn on. I almost panicked.

I had flown into Detroit, Michigan, a place that I had never been to before. I needed to drive about three hours to Grand Rapids in the dark and rain without a map. I ran back into the rental car office and they offered for me to rent a GPS for $17 a day. I figured I could buy one cheaper than that, so I found my way to the nearest Walmart. Again, nothing! How could two devices not work? Now I panicked. I ran back into Walmart and explained my situation to a very understanding young worker. My cell phone was still on an Austrian plan, so I couldn’t even use Google Maps. He helped me purchase and install a new SIM card and got me set up to go. (If you can’t tell, Mr. Brobst is my personal IT guy, and he wasn’t with me on this trip. J) It took a long time for the phone to realize that I was in Detroit and not Vienna, but it finally showed me a map. Over 24 hours later, with no sleep, I arrived at my first hotel.

I got to thinking about why I was so frazzled when I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. I’ve heard it said that if you don’t know where you’re going, that’s exactly where you’ll end up. Nowhere. I suppose the same could be said of life. What is my personal map that gets me through life? Do I just randomly react to what happens to me, or do I have a goal in mind that keeps motivating me to move forward? A big part of “growing in grit” is keeping the end goal in mind so that when obstacles get in our way, we don’t give up. Another thing that came to mind is that the Bible, God’s Word, is like a road map. It gives me direction as to how to live a life that is pleasing to God. It provides advice for when I run into a detour or a road block. It also is like a GPS that tells me the speed limit and the best way to get from one place to another. God knew that we would need help as we walk through life.

It turns out that the car’s charging stations weren’t working. Even when I traded the car in for another one of the exact model, they wouldn’t work either. I had no power for charging a navigation system. The entire situation sure got me thinking. This trip reminded me of how important it is to know my destination and goal and to have a reliable source that provides me with direction in getting there. And just like it was so important to keep the GPS plugged into a power source, I need to keep getting recharged in my personal relationship with God.

There is so much more to tell you about my trip, but I’ll just have to tell you about hitting the deer another time. It sure is good to be back home in Vienna – the U-bahn is so nice!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director