Christian School Leadership Lessons

Practical tips and inspiration

Episode 5 | 33 min

Tim Dernlan
Ensuring Christian Schools Thrive for Years to Come

Dr. Timothy Dernlan offers hope to Christian school leaders concerned about sustainability. As head of school, Dr. Dernlan is involved in a $20 million capital campaign to expand Bayshore Christian School in Fairhope, Alabama. He shares encouragement and insights from that experience. In this episode, we discuss:

  • Spiritual formation
  • Sustainability
  • The classical approach to Christian education
  • The importance of long-range planning
  • Lessons learned from a $20 million capital campaign


About Dr. Timothy Dernlan

Dr. Timothy Dernlan is head of school at Bayshore Christian School in Fairhope, Alabama. Before 2020, he served four years as superintendent of Reach Christian Schools in Bear, Delaware. A former coach and teacher, Dr. Dernlan serves on the board of The Association of Classical Christian Schools and on several ACCS accreditation teams. An author, speaker, and consultant, he specializes in strategic planning and financial stability. Dr. Dernlan holds a doctorate in leadership studies from Ashland University.


Here are some highlights from today’s lesson:

Q: How are you avoiding budgeting pitfalls that so many other schools face?
A: Right now, we're able to cover all of our expenses through tuition, and that's a real blessing. And so a lot of our fundraising goes to advancing and growing our mission in fun and creative ways that will help the program. So, figure out what the teachers need to get paid, and figure out what programs are going to help advance your mission. Then, back into tuition and charge the tuition that's needed. So many times, we have pastoral hearts in education. We want to keep tuition so low, but then we forget we're hurting our own people, and we can't pay our own teachers enough to retain and keep them.

Q: What does sustainability look like for Bayshore Christian?
A: Here in the past few years, we have put in some increased best practices and refined our internal controls and our budgeting. As a school leader, I'm looking at the budget – the five-year, the one-year, and the monthly numbers – at least every other day for about 90 minutes, either by myself or with our bookkeeper. … Taking it seriously is important. A lot of times we're trained in education on the academic side of things, but we don't train in a lot of business-minded leadership. When we take the finances seriously, we can make better, wiser decisions with what we're going to do and not be tempted to do anything other than our best.


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