Christian School Leadership Lessons

Practical tips and inspiration

Episode 6 | 33 min

Jay Ferguson
By Growing Together, We Become Stronger

Dr. Jay Ferguson, a respected leader in the field of Christian education, shares how the passionate pursuit of improvement has helped Grace Community School thrive. The East Texas school serves about 1,000 students in grades K-12. Grace Community School is known for “teaching Jesus,” striving to reflect the Lord’s character in everything it does. In this lesson, we discuss:

  • The value of accreditation
  • Being intentional about teaching Jesus
  • Serving a diverse community
  • Offering options for homeschool families
  • Supporting students with learning needs
  • Developing a strategic financial plan


About Dr. Jay Ferguson

Dr. Jay Ferguson, Ph.D., has served since June 2003 as head of school at Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas. He holds a law degree, as well as a Ph.D. in leadership studies from Dallas Baptist University.

Dr. Ferguson is active in several professional associations, including the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA).

A big fan of accreditation, Dr. Ferguson led Grace Community School to achieve Exemplary Accreditation status from ACSI. He’s also among about a dozen leaders designated as Certified Heads of School by CESA. Dr. Ferguson currently serves as board chair of ACSI.

Here are some highlights from today’s lesson:

Q: How does your school fund operations, capital projects, and other expenses?
A: As much as we possibly can, we want our tuition and fees to fully fund our operations. As part of our operational expenses funded through our tuition, we include some pretty healthy capital and maintenance reserves. We really try to have about three to four months’ worth of operating reserves in our budget and to have some healthy maintenance reserves as well.

Q: Let’s talk about financial viability. How important is a long-term strategy when looking toward the future?
A: First of all, you have to build out a strategic plan. You need to know where you're headed. But that strategic plan needs to be supported with a financial plan, as well. If you have a strategic plan, and you don't have a financial plan to tell you how you're going to pay for it, what you've got is a wish list. You don't have a strategic plan. So you need to have a financial plan that supports your strategic plan, with demographics in mind. How is your community going to change and shift over the next few years? What is the demographic data telling you, and how do you build your school enrollment projections with that in mind? So, all of those things are important as you consider sustainability over the course of the next number of years.


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