July 1, 2012
Online Journal - The Anatomy of a Seventh-day Adventist School
Janice Maitland, Superintendent, Ontario Conference, Oshawa, ON

Webster’s Dictionary defines Anatomy as “the science of the structure of the body and the relation of its parts.” Let us examine the anatomy of a Seventh-day Adventist School.

The body of an Adventist school is its total program. Realizing that human beings are composed of the intellectual (seat of decision making), the emotional (feeling/sensitive part of mankind) and the physical (man’s will) the school offers a curriculum that is wholistic. It has been intentionally designed this way to address the needs of the whole child.

While the principal is the physical head of the school, God is the spiritual head of every Adventist school. The wholistic education infused with spiritual truths offered to students, prepares them to help fulfil the command issued by the ‘Head’ found in Matthew 28:19, 20 to go into all the world and prepare people for Jesus’ second coming.

The teachers are an integral part of the anatomy of a school and function as hands to direct, guide, nurture, and make disciples of the students whom they evangelize every day for 186 days of every school year. Indeed, the influence of spiritually-charged teachers is quite evident as students demonstrate the positive choices that they make based on the values and standards espoused in the Adventist school.

Students are the lifeblood of an Adventist school. They are part of the school’s circulatory system. They are the reason the school exists. Without students there would be no school, no need for teachers, no need for programming and everything else that pertains to the running of a school. Thus, a school that is experiencing decreasing enrolment must take a serious look at its operation either by reviewing its strategic plan, which clearly outlines its goals and objectives with a view to stop the haemorrhaging, or by preparing a strategic plan that helps to give a clear sense of direction.

The school chaplain, who functions as part of the heartbeat of the school, provides spiritual guidance and helps to strengthen students in their resolve to commit their lives to Jesus by checking their ‘relationship with God’ pulse. During weeks of spiritual emphasis, by engaging in ongoing Bible studies, and through the preparation of sermons that students deliver in the churches, the chaplain encourages students to seal their commitment by publicly demonstrating it through the rite of baptism.

The academic, social, physical and spiritual areas of the curriculum all function as internal organs of the school program that ensure the body is healthy and functioning well. Without a healthy program, the body is sure to collapse and eventually die. Firm and strong feet are needed to guarantee that the body can further its mandate that students leave the school well prepared at any stage of their educational experience. These strong feet are support staff, teachers’ assistants, parents, pastors, school board members, Conference personnel, and all other supporters. Without these strong feet to support the school financially, to give encouragement, to properly administer the affairs of the school, to pray for and on behalf of the school, the school could not stand.

The North American Division (NAD) education ministry’s Journey to Excellence document has captured the essence of the anatomy of Adventist schools. The ten goals clearly stated are a measurement of the health of Adventist schools (see document on NAD or SDACC’s site).