Sharpening the Axe

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Abraham Lincoln knew about splitting wood. The necessity of a sharp axe for this labor intensive task shaped the priorities of this former mid-western farmer. Time spent on sharpening the axe improved the effectiveness of the wood splitter and brought greater efficiency in accomplishing the task at hand.

Professional educators do well to heed this counsel from our ax-wielding former President.

“When you cease to learn, you forfeit your right to teach.”

My former colleague, Derek Keenan, engrained this principle in me early in my educational career. Teachers must be learners. The LCS mission statement includes the goal that our students will be prepared for a lifetime of learning.

I have commented often this year about my enthusiasm about our faculty. They are a remarkable group of educators who endeavor to glorify God in the way they practice their profession. As I stood before them on Monday, I was impressed once again by their diversity of gifts, variety of experience, and deep commitment to God and to their students.

Modeling lifetime learning

One of the attributes of the LCS faculty member is a commitment to continually grow and improve. We place a high value on professional and spiritual development opportunities and realize the rich dividends for our students when we invest in training for our teachers.

Here are a few examples of our teachers’ involvement this year in bettering themselves professionally and spiritually to be the best they can be for our students:

Pardon the Interruption

(My writing was just interrupted by a colleague who came to see me to inquire about taking a few teachers with him to the Learning and the Brain Conference at Harvard next month. This is a great conference and we are excited about what it can bring to us as we continue to explore the implications of brain research on how we teach.)

  • NEXUS Live- simulcast teacher training provided for teachers around the world by ACSI on Oct. 16-17. Forty LCS teachers participated.
  • On campus training for 45 teachers by Dr. Carla Stevens on Oct. 16-17 focusing upon biblically informed instructional planning and teaching.
  • Four members of our Relationship Education team will attend the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission national conference in Nashville next week to enable us to more effectively equip our high school students to deal with the wide-spread sexual confusion in our society.
  • Seven teachers are pursuing graduate degrees at five graduate schools.
  • Elementary teachers engaged in on campus training with the leading regional consultant for Primary Mathematics on October 10.
  • Kala Walls participated in the International Home Stay Symposium last week to assist us with our growing international student program.
  • Third-Fifth grade teachers participated in webinars and training for Edusmart and Gizmo computer based instructional programs that are benefitting our students.
  • Elementary teachers are engaged in implementation of a curriculum mapping program to assist them in unifying and coordinating the instructional program across the grade levels. The program also allows our teachers to access curriculum documentation from over 100 other high quality schools to stimulate our thinking and planning for our students.

We can always do better

At LCS we are continually “sharpening the axe” of our professional skills as we seek to provide excellence in every phase of a student’s education at LCS. We are fellow-learners with our students and recognize that there is always more to learn. We can always do better. The intentional commitment of our teachers to professional development assures us that we will.

Dr. Mike Sligh, Headmaster, has served at LCS for more than 40 years. To contact Dr. Sligh, email him at

Posted In Viking Views Blog From Headmaster Reflections

Published on by Mike Sligh.