Published May 21, 2018

When Teachers Become Better Leaders, Students Win

Steve Perkins, 2014 Teacher of the Year in Indiana, felt called to be a teacher. “When I was a junior in high school, my Latin teacher said the first time anyone had been called a Christian was in Antioch,” Steve explains. “At the moment it was almost as if I heard the actual voice of Jesus saying, you could teach this subject and be a Christian presence in public schools. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”

Leadership can make or break a student’s success

Since his early days of teaching, one thing has been clear to Steve. Leadership can make or break a student’s success. For this reason, since the late 90s, Steve has made The Global Leadership Summit a priority on his calendar. In fact, it is at the Summit where he re-dedicated his life to Christ, and recently gained invaluable inspiration for his next educational endeavor.

“My good friend, Mark Mittelberg (who incidentally led me in a prayer to rededicate my life to Christ during a Summit lunch break in 2001) and I have been talking about the need for an event that focuses on encouraging, inspiring and equipping teachers and students studying education to understand and live out their calling as salt and light in public schools,” says Steve. “During the 2017 Summit, I wrote in my notes:

God may be writing an end to the chapter you are good at so you can go to the next level.

Since being named Indiana Teacher of the Year in 2014, Steve has had opportunities to work with educators from all over Indiana, across the United States and around the world. “It can be easy for teachers to forget there is a world of policy, research, politics, advocacy, training and more outside the walls of their classroom,” says Steve. “To paraphrase Hamlet, it is all too easy to stay bound within the classroom and count oneself the king of infinite space.

“During the Summit that year, I called my friend, Gary Abud Jr., who is 2014 Michigan Teacher of the Year, and we began to dream of what could be. We are both passionate about education, distressed by its current state, inspired by great leadership, motivated by bad leadership and passionate to change things. He and I have enjoyed education leadership, but we are both burning to do more. I am entering my 27th year of teaching, but have been feeling a restlessness, wondering what God may be calling me to next. What would it mean to WOW this to life? This has led to new leadership ideas that I have been working on with a number of leaders.”

The need to build into our educators is critical

“Over the nearly 30 years of my career, I have watched the life in students and educators flicker and die,” says Steve. “From seemingly endless mandates no educator truly supports to incompetent or even malevolent leadership, to increased poverty, to a lack of balance with technology that has led to the well-researched consequences of depression and other mental problems, I see the life disappearing from our schools. Across the nation fewer new teaching licenses are being issued than ever before, as educators exit the profession at a higher rate.

“We need Christ-followers who are called to education to grasp fully the true nature and work of their calling. We need to equip them in being intentional in living out that calling for maximum Kingdom benefit.”

Leadership in the classroom extends beyond its four walls

Great leadership in the classroom has a ripple effect. It impacts the lives of students as well, and instills leadership wisdom into their lives and futures.

“I frequently talk with my students about leadership, especially when we are reading something like the war accounts of Julius Caesar,” says Steve. “I point out they will all lead something someday. It may be a Fortune 500 company, a little league team or a family, but they will lead, and they need to know how.

“Leadership in the classroom is inevitable. A teacher will lead well or poorly, but every teacher leads. The Latin word for teacher is magister, or master of the subject. The Greek word is paidagogos, or one who leads children. True teachers are both. They must know well the subjects they teach and they must also be able to lead students through the challenges of learning. As for education in general, leadership is a vitally important topic.

“Having worked in schools for nearly three decades and having worked also with schools and educators across Indiana and around the world, I can bear witness that good building and district-level leadership can inspire both teachers and students to amazing things, and bad leadership can destroy even those with the best of ideas.”

Students win when teachers become better leaders, so if you’re a teacher, join us at the Summit!

“I attend the Summit because it is not a conference,” says Steve. “It is an experience. It will recharge your emotional, spiritual and leadership batteries as no other event can.”

About the Author
Global Leadership Network

Global Leadership Network

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The Global Leadership Network is a community committed to learning from each other and using our influence to accomplish God’s purposes on earth. No matter where your influence is, when you commit to grow your leadership, everyone around you wins—businesses work for good, communities are transformed and churches thrive! Both global and diverse, our network includes partners in 1,400+ cities and 135+ countries. We are committed to deliver fresh, actionable and inspiring leadership content both at The Global Leadership Summit, and year-round through our digital platforms.

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