Office of Education: Serving You
by Hamlet Canosa




January 2016




To receive email news, click here.

Visitor News Bulletin Archives



Visitor News Website

Planned Giving & Trust Services

Columbia Union Annual Reports

2012 Special Constituency
2012 Circonscription Spéciale
Constituyente especial del 2012

Calendar of Offerings



5427 Twin Knolls Road
Columbia, MD  21045
Tel: (410) 997-3414
Tel: (301) 596-0800

Office Hours:
Mon - Thur, 8 am - 5:30 pm
Fridays Closed

The Office of Education is committed to periodically updating you on its work and service to the field and invites you to visit this blog regularly.

Archives 2011--Office of Education: Serving You

Dr. Bryant Reports to NADCOM – Elder Alex Bryant (standing at pulpit), Executive Secretary for the North American Division, reports vital statistics to the 250+ delegates of the North American Division Committee, meeting for their annual fall session. Among the many statistics cited: (1) 90,767 in net membership growth over the past 5 years; (2) approx. 275,000 of the NAD membership ranges in age from 11-35, indicating the “graying” of the Church; and (3) 110 on average, baptized daily into the SDA Church in the NAD. (GC Headquarters; Silver Spring, MD; October 28, 2011)


Gillespie Presents Preliminary VG3 Results – Dr. Bailey Gillespie, Director of the Hancock Center, one of several research centers on the campus of La Sierra University, presented some of the results of the recently concluded Valuegenesis 3 data analysis. His presentation was given at the North American Division Board of Education meeting and is primarily focused on examining the integration of faith and learning. This is the third such research effort over the past 20 years. (GC Headquarters; Silver Spring, MD; October 27, 2011)

Cake Anyone? – Prepared to serve over 60 people who attended the event, this celebration cake has Dr. Kelly’s photo (in frosting!) taken upon his graduation from Howard University. Dr. Kelly seemed pleased to greet the many guests who attended the event, including six “mystery” guests. (CU Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; October 26, 2011)

“This is Your Life” – Pictured is the decorated Wilson Auditorium prior to the beginning of the service recognition program for Dr. Ian Kelly, Associate Director for Secondary Education. The work of the planning committee in preparing for this special event amounted to countless hours of effort. The program was themed around the Ralph Edwards program of the 1950s. (CU Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; October 26, 2011)

ECEC Initiatives – Pictured is Ms. Evelyn Sullivan, Associate Director for Early Childhood Education and Care, informing CUSAC members of three key initiatives, re: (1) Creative Curriculum - a program that netted a savings of over $200,000; (2) playground inspection certification and service; and (3) planned Gesell training in 2012. Ms. Sullivan is deeply appreciated across the Union field for her vision and diligence. A full agenda required a working lunch for all attendees. (CU Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; October 18, 2011)

CUSAC: Fall 2011 – Over 30 educational leaders came together as the newly composed Columbia Union School Administrators Council in this new quinquennium. Addressing educational needs, policy formulation, short- and long-term planning, program initiatives, etc., CUSAC meetings this fall were immediately preceded by meetings of both the Superintendents and Principals Councils. Time spent on agenda and voted recommendations were productive and collegial. (CU Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; October 17, 2011)

MIZO Church Choir – Enjoy the presentation given by the MIZO Church Choir at the convocation Sabbath School on NADCOM Sabbath. The church is located in Maryland and serves many in its congregation who have emigrated from Myanmar. (GC Headquarters; Silver Spring, MD; October 27, 2011)


CUBOE: BMA Bel Canto – This coming November, for the first meeting of the CU Board of Education in this quinquennium, the choral devotional will be provided by members of BMA’s Bel Canto group, under the direction of Lawrence Galera. This will, no doubt, prove to be an inspiring and enjoyable event for CUBOE members. (Blue Mountain Academy; Hamburg, PA; October 13, 2011)

Enjoying Lunch – Pictured are Columbia Union Associate Directors Dr. Ian Kelly (Secondary) and Ms. Evelyn Sullivan (Early Childhood & Care) enjoying the delicious lunch provided by the Foundation. I very much enjoyed the meals, but even more so the sessions that yielded useful information, re: education processes and projections for future CF programs and planning. (Crown Plaza Hotel; Rockville, MD; October 12, 2011)


CF Leadership Forum: Dr. Bernhardt – Addressing a record number of participants at the 6th annual leadership forum sponsored by the Commonweal Foundation, Dr. Victoria Bernhardt, of Education for the Future, spoke of “Continuous Learning Improvement: An Approach to Leading, Teaching, and Learning.” Dr. Bernhardt’s primary focus was the encouragement for educators to make decisions, re: school improvement based on significant data; its effective and timely use and provision of templates to assist in securing and analyzing data. (Crown Plaza Hotel; Rockville, MD; October 12, 2011)

Ms. Barbara Bainum – Pictured is Ms. Bainum (President, CEO, and Chair) of the Commonweal Foundation, providing an brief opening address and introduction of the morning’s plenary session speaker, Dr. Victoria Bernhardt. Ms. Bainum’s leadership has been instrumental in guiding the Commonweal Foundation in establishing a compelling mission and vision for the foundation and for the annual leadership forums provided to youth leaders in education, at risk centers, and other programs that encourage and provide direction to young people. (Crown Plaza Hotel; Rockville, MD; October 12, 2011)

CF: Leadership Institute III – Robert Kemmery, Jr. was the featured presenter for the four-hour institute (one of three) entitled, “Schools Conducting Self-Assessments: Finding a Dynamic Pathway to School Improvement.” The training session was focused on increasing participants understanding of the concept of school culture and its application to leadership and student achievement; as well as increasing the capacity and sustainability of the school community to prepare students through the vehicle of self assessment. . (Crown Plaza Hotel; Rockville, MD; October 11, 2011)

Active Participants in the Leadership Institute – Gloria Perry and Cynthia Poole (seated – center right), Associate Superintendents of the Allegheny East Conference, attended and participated in the workshop led by Kemmery. Both Perry and Poole are active, engaged, and productive leaders in their field – advancing the cause of Adventist education and care. The CUOE team, later that day enjoyed sharing perspectives over a meal with our friends and CUSAC colleagues from Allegheny East. (Crown Plaza Hotel; Rockville, MD; October 11, 2011)

Union Registrars Meet – Pictured are the registrars from each of the nine unions across the North American Division; a group that met for two days to discuss revisions to the teacher certification manual and other items of mutual interest relating to securing, processing, and reporting relevant data to various levels of the Church’s school structure. Ms. Christine Greene (third from left) is Columbia Union’s registrar – most diligent and effective! (North American Division Office; Silver Spring, MD; October 6, 2011)

Leadership Forum Sponsored by Commonweal Foundation – This year’s two-day event was excellent in so many ways. While our CUOE team was not able to make all of the events scheduled, it did participate in a number of the institutes, breakouts, and other aspects of the 6th annual leadership forum. The theme: “Shared Vision, Greater Impact: Collaborate, Educate, Innovate!” was substantially advanced by excellent programming and planning. It was a privilege for our CUOE team to participate. (Crown Plaza Hotel; Rockville, MD; October 12, 2011)

Brothery love – Greg, Taylor and Austin from Spring Valley Academy

Jennifer, Ileana and Ian

Keynote speaker Victor Brown on Sabbath


Ian’s tribute – cakes to celebrate his leadership at SALT the last 14 years

BMA sponsors – Tracy and Cory Enoch’s and the recruiting team from Kettering – Nathan Abbott, Mike Unterseher and Victor Brown

Highland View Academy student leaders singing their school song

SALT attendees with the Spencerville Hornet at Saturday night’s activity

WAU Board Meets: Compelling Agenda – Washington Adventist University trustees met in their first full board meeting of the new academic year. In addition to being informed of the record high opening enrollment, the board addressed and took action, re: proposed branch campus in South Lancaster, MA, composition of board subcommittees, personnel actions, report on accreditation preparations, etc. Elder Dave Weigley (center), chairs the board. Elder Rob Vandeman (left) is the board’s new vice-chair. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; September 25, 2011)

Elder Weigley – “The God Context” – Elder Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union and chairman of the board of trustees of Washington Adventist University, was the Sabbath speaker for the divine hour of worship at Sligo Church. His message focused listeners on keeping Christ first in their lives. The service also included a dedicatory prayer for all WAU faculty, staff, administrators, and members of the board of trustees. The service was part of a board retreat weekend for university trustees. (Sligo Church; Takoma Park, MD; September 24, 2011)

WAU Board Retreat – Dr. Doug Orr, author and governance guru was joined by Mr. Bill Farmer (Performa) to provide a day-long seminar and action planning session for trustees of Washington Adventist University. Emphasis was focused on roles and responsibilities, strategic planning, member development, agenda and assessment strategies. Dr. Weymouth Spence, WAU President, is pictured introducing the day’s presenters. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; September 23, 2011)

Philippine Madrigal Singers – Sponsored by WAU and performing an evening concert at the Sligo Church, the Philippine Madrigal singers provided a wonderful concert of sacred music, spirituals, and choral music unique to the Philippines. All of the ticket proceeds were targeted by the Madrigals as a gift for the new music building presently under construction. (Sligo Church; Takoma Park, MD; September 22, 2011)

CUOE Team Picture – Every several years, new photos are taken of each CU office worker. In addition, department group photos are taken. Ms. Ileana Espinosa, new elementary associate director (third from the left), joined the CU Office of Education in early July. She has been very busy, “on the road” becoming acquainted with our institutional leaders on the conference and academy levels. (CU Office: Conference Room 1; Columbia, MD; September 22, 2011)

Dedicatory Prayer – Pictured is the Blyden family moments after Elder Dave Weigley offered a dedicatory prayer for Baby Sarita Blyden, being held in her daddy’s arms. Kudos to Ms. Cindy Harcombe and Ms. Becky Weigley for organizing the event for good time was had by all present. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; September 21, 2011)

CU Office Family: A Happy Occasion – Each quarter, the union office family gathers together to celebrate worker birthdays that fall within the respective quarters; and this quarter’s celebration was combined with a special event. Austin and Celeste Blyden are the happy parents of yet another precious daughter, Sarita, and the office happily engaged in a baby shower for the Blydens. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; September 21, 2011)

New BMA Vice Principal – Glenn Wilson (center) is a first-year vice principal at Blue Mountain Academy. He provided the devotional thought for the board meeting; his thoughts being focused on the privilege of teaching. (BMA Church; Hamburg, PA; September 20, 2011)

BMA Board: Focused! – Blue Academy’s governing board met to address a number of important items including a statistical analysis of opening enrollment and trends; proposed budget revisions; personnel; and longer-term planning. (BMA Church; Hamburg, PA; September 20, 2011)


Victoria, BC: Risk Management Convention – This year’s risk management meetings were held in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, commencing on the evening of September 11th and ending on Wednesday, September 14th. The Fairmont Empress hotel, a historic landmark, was the site chosen by ARMS for the convention, one which was well-attended; offered substantial, helpful information; and equipped attendees with practical, legal information to protect the interests of the Church in all of its ministries. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 11, 2011)

Convention Center – The convention center in The Empress met the logistical needs of convention planners as the 300+ attendees comfortably fit into the visitors’ theatre center for plenary sessions. Breakout rooms were both sufficient in number and space for sessions in education, healthcare, pastoral ministries, child abuse prevention/intervention, insurance coverage, and other important topics addressed. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 11, 2011)

Cory Jenson: Dynamic Presenter – Addressing issues relating to pervasive child abuse in our society, and its implications for the Church and its various organizations; Ms. Jensen’s emphasis focused on identification, prevention, reporting requirements, and other legal ramifications, re: child abuse. In an evening meal together, CU attendees requested of Elder Bardu that Ms. Jensen be asked to present at three separate regional meetings planned for CU/local conference employees. The idea will be presented to CU administration and the local conference presidents in the near future. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 13, 2011)

Burrow Offers Case Studies – Bob Burrow, claims attorney for Adventist Risk Management, presented a number of case studies, based on actual occurrences, dealing with child abuse issues. Burrow’s presentation prompted considerable audience participation, eliciting numerous questions. To be sure, the case studies offered all present the opportunity to learn and apply basic principles in dealing with perpetrators and understanding legal requirements, re: reporting. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 13, 2011)

US Health Care Reform Act: Implications – Daryl Chapman, of the AmWINS Group, Inc., gave a sobering presentation addressing healthcare challenges in the US and, more specifically, the how the legislation passed a year ago will impact the American economy for years to come. In a more general focus, Chapman spoke of the country’s debt challenges and the formidable challenge that lies ahead, re: choices which will have to be made to existing entitlement programs. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 13, 2011)

UDOEC – Following the previous day’s emphasis on early childhood education (September 14), the Union Directors of Education Council met all day to discuss a variety of items, spending considerable time on student information systems software and planning for the 2012 national teachers convention in August 2012. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 15, 2011)

Registrars – Take Note! – Matthew MacVane (center), software developer hired by the North American Division to develop SIS software for school registrars, gave the union directors a live “demo” of the software which soon should be released for use across the NAD. In addition, MacVane demonstrated his work on the NAD convention website and sought input from those present on strengthening the site. (Fairmont Empress Hotel; Victoria, BC; September 15, 2011)


New Jersey K-10 BOE ExecComm - The Executive Committee of the New Jersey Conference K-10 Board of Education met to address a number of items to start the new school year. Among the items on the agenda: (1) school accreditation recommendations, (2) personnel, (3) Code-permitted exemptions in specific program approvals, (4) calendar items, (5) locally-funded policy updates, (6) new and bold policies to hiring educational personnel, etc. Kudos to Elder Saint-Ulysse, NJ Superintendent of Education for a substantive, productive, and time-efficient agenda. (NJ Conference Office; Trenton, NJ; August 18, 2011)

Spencerville Adventist Academy – Standing in front of the new, $22 million facility that is the culmination of many years of planning by the constituents of Spencerville, Dr. Ian Kelly (left) and Brian Kittleson, SAA Principal, are pictured with the current certificate of accreditation recently received from the GC Adventist Accreditation Association. SAA was visited by an evaluation team this past spring and was just granted a six year term of accreditation. (Spencerville Adventist Academy; Spencerville, MD; August 15, 2011)

SAA’s New Seal – Pictured is the newly painted academy seal near the entry area of SAA’s new facility. Principal Kittleson took Drs. Kelly and Canosa for a full tour of the new school. The facility, program, and administrative/teaching personnel of the academy are truly impressive. Preliminary opening enrollment numbers appear to be very close to meeting budget. While touring, several parents were in the process of enrolling their children. (Spencerville Adventist Academy; Spencerville, MD; August 15, 2011)

Impressive Auditorium – With a seating capacity of 367, the new auditorium will be used for chapels, school programs, and other functions. The auditorium platform serves the auditorium and a multipurpose room located directly behind the platform. One cannot help but be truly impressed by the layout of the building, re: classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, studios, etc. Certainly one would want to stop by when in the vicinity of the school to become better acquainted with the program as well as the new facility. (Spencerville Adventist Academy; Spencerville, MD; August 15, 2011)

SAA’s Multipurpose Gymnasium – Easily suited to meet the physical education and intramural/interscholastic needs of the academy’s students and various teams, the board and administration will continue to add features to the new gymnasium. (Spencerville Adventist Academy; Spencerville, MD; August 15, 2011)

Science Lab To Envy – Fully equipped and being readied to provide SAA’s students with all the necessary stations, equipment, etc. to facilitate quality teaching and learning opportunities for students; Principal Kittleson is showing Dr. Kelly, Columbia Union Secondary Associate Director all facets of the new science laboratory. All classrooms are fully equipped with the new teaching/projection technologies. (Spencerville Adventist Academy; Spencerville, MD; August 15, 2011)

24 Stations in Computer Lab – Still being prepared to maximize efficiencies and usage, the computer lab of SAA will effectively supplement teaching across the K-12 curricula. It can surely be said that the new facility lacks for nothing, re: quality teaching resources. (Spencerville Adventist Academy; Spencerville, MD; August 15, 2011)

NADOUP’s Guest – Elder Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference, offered the closing prayer at the end of the daylong meeting of NADOUP, of which I am a member. The North American Division officers, along with officers of the Unions across the division, meet several times annually to advance the work of the Church in our field. Much of the agenda addressed dealt with items and presentations being prepared for the year-end NAD Committee meetings in mid-Fall 2011. Many important items will be brought to the floor of the NADCOM meetings, all focused on strengthening various ministries throughout North America. (Sacramento Convention Center; Sacramento, CA; August 4, 2011)

Elder Batchelor Speaks of Courage – Elder Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts, based in CA, was the keynote speaker. His focus was on the biblical account of Joshua and the courage and faith he exercised in doing the bidding of our Lord. Batchelor called on all present to keep a good courage; to fight the good fight and “finish strong” in these last days of earth’s history. Our Lord is returning soon! (Sacramento Convention Center; Sacramento, CA; August 3, 2011)

LaMountain Sings from the Heart – Jennifer LaMountain, renowned singer among Seventh-day Adventists, was the featured singer for the opening evening of the 2011 ASI International Convention, attended by more than 1,800 people. This was the 65th annual convention for Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries, an organization dedicated to advancing the cause of God through effective support of evangelism and development projects across the globe. Jennifer’s special selections were truly outstanding, lifting the hearts of all in attendance. Listen to one of LaMountain’s songs found in the “video” section of the Education webpage. (Sacramento Convention Center; Sacramento, CA; August 3, 2011)

“Old Faithful” of Calistoga, CA – Loving the outdoors and nature’s wonders, I made my way to Calistoga to visit the geyser, one of only three geysers in the country that is still active. Some suggested that since the last CA earthquake, this geyser was not as “faithful” as before. However, it did not disappoint during my visit. It was, indeed, a splendid sight. The awesomeness of the earth’s power makes one truly ponder the magnificence of what God’s hand has wrought in nature. (Old Faithful Geyser; Calistoga, CA; July 31, 2011)

Elmshaven: EGW’s Home – For all who toured the home of Ellen White, this Sabbath afternoon experience was enlightening and enjoyable. Learning about the intersecting histories of both the White and Pratt families, our tour guide pointed out many interesting facts about the home itself and Ellen White’s inspiration and visions. It was in this Elmshaven home that she wrote nine substantial volumes and hundreds of articles for church journals during the sunset years of her life. (Embassy Suites; Napa, CA; July 30, 2011)

Sabbath Service: Elder Geoffrey Mbwana Shares – Speaking on our calling to holiness as followers of Christ, Elder Mbwana, Vice President for the General Conference and former President of the East Central African Division, challenged all present to look to Jesus; seeking always to do His will as He makes it known – with a willing heart and hand. Reflecting on Scriptural accounts of Christ’s calling to His servants, Elder Mbwana’s sermon was both inspirational and a source of encouragement. (Embassy Suites; Napa, CA; July 30, 2011)

Dr. Greek, Loma Linda University – Jim Greek, currently the director of Chaplaincy Services at Loma Linda University Medical Center, provided insightful suggestions to conference and union officers, re: meeting the spiritual needs of those in medical professions. Effectively ministering to those in these professions requires a willingness to “get in the foxhole” to meet the unique emotional, social, and spiritual needs of those called to health ministries. (Embassy Suites; Napa, CA; July 30, 2011)

Lost Among the Redwoods – Enjoying a Friday afternoon hike in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Guerneville, CA, I took great joy in a vigorous hike and the fresh air of this redwoods park. Some of these redwoods date back to the early 1000’s, before William the Conqueror. The tree by which I stand is the Armstrong Tree, named for the purchaser of the property and visionary who determined to preserve the rugged beauty and splendor of these wonderful trees. (Armstrong Redwoods SNR; Guerneville, CA; July 29, 2011)

Pastor Barber and Church Evangelism – Pastor Randy Barber of the Central SDA Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and leader of a congregation that over a 12-year period has grown from 400 to 1,100 members, brought the morning devotionals to members of the CU Presidents Council who were retreating in Napa, CA. Randy’s focus was on the power, methods, and outcomes of effective evangelism. His work in evangelism has been effective not just in Calgary, but also in previous ministries in both the Washington and Rocky Mountain Conferences. (Embassy Suites; Napa, CA; July 29, 2011)

Espinosa Arrives – Ileana Espinosa, the newly appointed Elementary Associate Director of Education for the Columbia Union, receives a warm welcome from her new CUOE teammates. Providing greetings, groceries, and gratitude, the CUOE team is thankful for the Lord’s leading of Ileana to the CU; her passion for Adventist education; and her commitment to give her very best in service to this field. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; July 18, 2011)

Celeste Giles – 2011 Outstanding Educator – Ms. Celeste Giles (pictured to the right) is joined by Ms. Yvette Cooper, Superintendent of Schools for the Allegheny West Conference, shortly after I had the privilege of presenting the 2011 CU Outstanding Educator Award to Ms. Giles during the hour of divine worship at the AWC camp meeting service. Ms. Giles, a faithful and gifted teacher at Ramah Junior Academy, is a splendid example of what true Christian education ministry is all about – focused on service, excellence, and above all, the best interests of her students. Congratulations, Ms. Giles! (AWC Camp Adena Pavilion; Thornville, OH; June 18, 2011)

Ramah Students’ Stick Ministry – Students from Ramah Junior Academy provided a special presentation to attendees of the Sabbath service at AWC camp meeting. Assisted by an instructor and Ms. Cooper, the students’ stick ministry was put to the music, “Arise.” The rendition was a moving one, particularly given the love of Jesus evident in the students who shared their talents with those present. (AWC Camp Adena Pavilion; Thornville, OH; June 18, 2011)

Academy Mass Choir Thrills Listeners – Students from all of the AWC schools joined together in singing, as part of the Sabbath hour offering appeal, offered by Ms. Zenobia Seward, Treasurer of the AWC. The song preformed came to worshippers as a special request from Elder Fred Russell, AWC President who heard the young people singing this past April at the first annual AWC Fine Arts Festival. The choir, at the end of their song, received a warm and loud applause from AWC members. (AWC Camp Adena Pavilion; Thornville, OH; June 18, 2011)

BMA Board Meets at Camp Meeting Time – Pictured at the center of the photo is Elder Ray Hartwell (seated, center right), chairman of the board; joined by Mr. Craig Ziesmer (seated, center left), principal of Blue Mountain Academy. In many ways, this meeting was historic, particularly given its lengthy, carefully debated examination of a new conceptual framework for a student-centered, student-driven (mentored by adults) Blue Mountain Academy Church. The board members listened carefully as Elder Hartwell spent more than 90 minutes providing insights, recommendations, and fielding questions about the proposed new approach. Other items addressed by the board included personnel matters, physical plant, logistics, overseas travel requests, and faculty housing. By all accounts this meeting was not only historic, but very productive. (BMA Edison Hall; Hamburg, PA; June 13, 2011)

PA’s “Tent City” – Annual camp meeting for the Pennsylvania Conference would simply not be the same if not only tent pitch were missing, but the many that use the tents for a week of “housing.” Tent City has meaning for me in that I often assisted with PA camp meeting during the years I served as BMA’s principal. Camp meeting is always a time for spiritual renewal, fellowship, and enjoyment of the great outdoors! (PA Camp Pitch/Tent City; Hamburg, PA; June 13, 2011)

Ministries for Youth – It seems like only yesterday when I served as principal of Blue Mountain Academy. From the principal’s office window, I would often look out and see the huge tents pitched to house the various youth ministries/departments during camp meeting week. Located near the center of the BMA campus, these tents were always “a buzz” with young people learning more about precious Jesus and enjoying each other’s company. (BMA Campus; Hamburg, PA; June 13, 2011)

Spring Valley’s Class of 2011 – I had the pleasure of attending the baccalaureate service for the SVA’s Class of 2011. A good-sized senior cohort, all within which were most pleased to have finally “arrived,” re: graduation weekend. Principal Bovee shared with me prior to the service that the Class of 2011 is, in many ways, a very special and talented class. I was present for the purpose of presenting the CU Outstanding Educator Award to Dr. Donovan Ross. (Kettering SDA Church; Kettering, OH; May 28, 2011)


Dr. Donovan Ross – Outstanding Educator - Winner of the 2011 CU Outstanding Educator Award (secondary level), Dr. Donovan Ross was acknowledged for (1) his exemplary character and strong Christian spirit as evident in both his personal and professional life; (2) his consistent use of effective and contemporary pedagogical strategies; (3) his commitment to extraordinary team play and the facilitating of same between and among SVA colleagues; (4) his contributions both in the fields of school administration and instruction; (5) his positive impact on the lives of students both in and outside of the classroom; and (6) his significant contributions to advancing academics not only at the school level but as a member of various conference, union, and division curriculum committees. (Kettering SDA Church; Kettering, OH; May 28, 2011)

An Outstanding Teacher Retires – Zelda Dunn, primary grades teacher of Spring Valley Academy since 1993, was acknowledged by Principal Bovee for her many years of extraordinary service. Ms. Dunn taught better than half of all the graduating seniors many years ago and the graduates were among the most appreciative of all in the sanctuary who gave Ms. Dunn a standing ovation. Zelda will be sorely missed. (Kettering SDA Church; Kettering, OH; May 28, 2011)

Shenandoah Valley’s Class of 2011 - Sixty-two seniors, one of the largest graduating classes in recent SVA history, were acknowledged for the academic accomplishments; family legacies – with many being second, third, and fourth generation SVA graduates; and, as recipients of a host of higher education scholarships. The seniors and school administration offered a moving tribute to one of their recently deceased seniors – Kent Grimm. The love and supportive spirit between and among members of the class is truly impressive. (SVA Gymnasium; New Market, VA; May 29, 2011)

Dr. Dale Twomley, Commencement Speaker – Currently serving as principal of Fletcher Academy, Dr. Twomley was a logical choice for the seniors’ commencement speaker as he was SVA’s principal when the Class of 2011 first enrolled at SVA. Twomley challenged the graduates to give the future their very best while never forgetting that Jesus loves them – and will always love them. Dr. Twomley’s message was appreciated not only by the graduates but by all in attendance as evidenced by all joining in the singing of Jesus Loves Me near the end of his address. (SVA Gymnasium; New Market, VA; May 29, 2011)

Jesus Loves Me! – Focusing on how the lives and commitment of four individuals intersected over the course of more than one hundred years; and culminating in the story of President John F. Kennedy’s naval experience as a captain on PT 109, Dr. Twomley told the graduates that Kennedy and his men sang “Jesus Loves Me” to maintain their courage while alone, injured, and awaiting rescue. Dr. Twomley and his wife, Connie, provided each graduating senior with an afghan blanket keepsake that focused on Jesus’s love and included the name of each graduating senior of the Class of 2011. (SVA Gymnasium; New Market, VA; May 29, 2011)



SVA’s Caring Heart Award Winner – I had the privilege and pleasure of presenting the 2011 NAD-CU Caring Heart Award to Cindy Lorena Maldonado-Contreras, a graduating senior. The award is annually given to a full-time junior or senior who has demonstrated an unceasing commitment to Christian service throughout their years at the academy. Cindy received an enthusiastic applause from all of her senior colleagues when her name was announced. Photos provided by Larry Rich and Christine Greene. (SVA Gymnasium; New Market, VA; May 29, 2011)

Handwriting Without Tears – Fifty-two Pre-K/K educators are at the CU office today to be trained in strategies that assist youngsters in penmanship. Evelyn Sullivan, ECEC/Pre-K Associate Director for the Columbia Union, with the cooperation of local conference education superintendents arranged for this in-service. Those present indicate that they are gaining helpful insights and learning new teaching strategies that will prove helpful not only from a standpoint of teaching methodology but, more importantly, in assisting young children to have a more comfortable experience in tools for written expression. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; May 24, 2011)

Cridland Instructs Instructors – Christine Cridland, of Handwriting Without Tears, is the instructor for the day-long seminar. She is an educator and occupational therapist by profession, as well as a very effective presenter. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; May 24, 2011)

The Challenges of Written Expression – For some youngsters, attempts to express through written/artistic messages is the cause of frustration, anger, and at times, feelings of failure. Teaching teachers to more effectively teach handwriting particularly at the primary grades level (Pre-K/K) is of vital importance. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; May 24, 2011)

Secondary Bible Textbooks: What to Do? – Members of the Secondary Associates breakout group examined the challenge of updating secondary bible textbooks, given what the associated have learned from data secured through a division-wide survey of secondary bible teachers. The associates plan to continue to explore options, keeping in mind the need to strike a balance between what the survey data reveal and the limited resources available at the NAD level for additional curricula upgrades. (Resort and Conference Center; Hyannis, MA; May 17, 2011)

Educators Gather at Hyannis, MA – Members of the North American Division Education Advisory met for their annual Spring meetings in Hyannis, Massachusetts to discuss matters of policy proposals; national convention planning; personnel; science, kindergarten, and reading, curriculum; school accreditation; teacher certification and a host of other matters. Pictured is Elder Garry Sudds, Lake Union Director of Education, who provided a thought-provoking devotional focused on the God’s calling of educators to ministry. (Resort and Conference Center; Hyannis, MA; May 16, 2011)

Dr. Kido Updates UDOEC on CognitiveGenesis Findings – Dr. Elissa Kido, Project Director of the four-year CognitiveGenesis research initiative, presents a select set of four-year results/findings that piqued the interest of union directors. The CG project will having a long-lasting, substantial impact on Adventist education and will be the source of on-going research given the number of variables at play in the 50,000+ data sets to be analyzed. (Resort and Conference Center; Hyannis, MA; May 16, 2011)

Dr. Caviness Shares Latest in Brain Research – Dr. Linda Caviness of La Sierra University Education Department shared fascinating, contemporary knowledge and perspectives on the physiological and neurological synergy at work in the minds of learners, be they teachers and/or students. Enriching the presentation with a spiritual context, Caviness’s presentation has prompted the CUOE to consider her as a CUCC enrichment presenter in February 2012 at our union curriculum committee meetings. (Resort and Conference Center; Hyannis, MA; May 16, 2011)

Spring Valley Academy Board Addresses Agenda – This has been a truly impressive year for Spring Valley Academy with an enrollment over 300; a new ECEC/Pre-K program; expanded course offerings; two successive years of Outstanding Educator Award winners, etc. On this evening, the board members addressed a number of items including a strong financial report; planned building renovations for this coming summer; and nominations from the constituent churches for board membership for the 2011-12 year. (SVA; Centerville, OH; May 5, 2011)

HVA’s Administrators – Highland View Academy is blessed with a fine administrative team, including but not limited to pictured left-to-right: Andrew Choi, Business Manager); Renee Williams, Director of Recruiting; Deborah Trevino, Principal; and Julie Recker, Registrar. In the course of this nearly-completed academic year, this team has been able to accomplish three major strategic objectives in areas of academics, finances, and facilities/programming that are truly impressive. (Library, HVA; Hagerstown, MD; May 4, 2011)

Principal Trevino Presents HVA’s Responses – Deborah Trevino, the first-year principal of Highland View Academy is shown presenting facts, figures, plans, and strategies via PowerPoint to members of the visiting team. Ms. Trevino is proving to be a visionary leader for the academy and is working diligently to pace change to affect program and institutional renewal. (Library, HVA; Hagerstown, MD; May 4, 2011)

The Visiting Team Gathers Together – Chaired by Dr. Ian Kelly, CU Associate Director, the committee members for the interim report review included Jacqueline Messenger, CH Associate Superintendent; Dr. Carole Smith, CH Superintendent, LaVona Gillham, CU Associate Director, and me. An interim review team visits a campus to determine whether the balance of a six-year term of accreditation is warranted. (Library, HVA; Hagerstown, MD; May 4, 2011)

WAU Acro Airs Team at HVA – During the time of the interim review visit, Washington Adventist University’s Acro Airs gymnastic team was performing for an academy assembly. Providing HVA students and faculty alike with skits and routines of daring, the Acro Airs were definitely well received by all present. WAUAA team members were at their best, and also seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves throughout program. (Library, HVA; Hagerstown, MD; May 4, 2011)

Two Special Graduates at Kettering College Graduation - Confessing a bias, there were two graduates from among the physician assistants (PA) with which I most enjoyed spending time: Bethany Hill (my daughter) and Justin (my son-in-law). Two in a cohort that originally numbered 60, Bethany and Justin found the academic rigor and clinical rotations to be invaluable learning opportunities. One might understand how proud the entire family is of both of them. (Dayton Convention Center; Dayton, OH; April 30, 2011)

The PA Cohort Prays Together – Members of the Kettering College 2011 graduating class of physician assistants ended their special afternoon program with group prayers. The tributes offered by graduates to faculty, parents, spouses, families, etc. were touching but most moving was their desire to stand as one in prayer to the Lord. (Dayton Convention Center; Dayton, OH; April 30, 2011)

CU Constituency: Elder Weigley’s Challenge – Elder Dave Weigley, newly re-elected president of the Columbia Union Conference, challenged delegates to advance God’s cause through “process evangelism” at every level of the church and in all of its organizations. All officers, executive and vice presidents, were re-elected to five-year terms at the session. Praise the Lord for His goodness and our prayers are for His continued guidance. (Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church; Silver Spring, MD; April 17, 2011)  

University Constituency Convenes – Washington Adventist University (WAU) constituency delegates met on Friday, April 15th to hear most encouraging news since the constituency was last convened five years ago. In short, within the past quinquennium, WAU has experienced (1) significant increases in enrollment; (2) major headway in debt reduction; (3) addition of new graduate programs; (4) three straight years of impressive operational gains; (5) new music building to open in Fall 2011; and (6) a new branch campus to open in South Lancaster, MA for Fall 2011. Truly impressive is the hand of God’s blessings as He’s bestowed them upon our university. (Sligo SDA Church; Takoma Part, MD; April 15, 2011)

Registrars: Three Union Workshop – Academy registrars from the Columbia, Atlantic, and Southern Unions (30 in all), participated in a two-day workshop hosted by the Columbia Union Office of Education. Dr. Ian Kelly, CU’s Secondary Associate, worked closely with officials of the education departments of Atlantic and Southern unions to coordinate the event and prepare its agenda. Presentations were made by Ms. Golden (all day, re: international students and required government protocols), Wally Carson (legal issues), Davenia Lea (WAU) and Karohn Young (pictured – standing; re: effective teaching methodologies). A number of other items were also addressed. (Columbia Union: N. Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; April 12, 2011)

Gordon Miller: Teacher of Excellence – Having served for a number of years as a highly effective, principle-driven, and insightful, grades 7&8 teacher at the Shenandoah Valley Adventist Elementary School, Gordon has recently been chosen by the Alumni Awards Foundation (AAF) as Columbia Union’s winner of the “Excellence in Teaching” award. AAF cited four reasons for his selection, including but not limited to innovative teaching, fund-raising, and involvement of his students in the Adventist Legos League competition over the last several years. (Shenandoah Valley Adventist Elementary; New Market, VA; April 7, 2011)

Historic Meeting: WAU Extends to New England - Meeting for just over 7 hours, members of the WAU Board of Trustees, joined by Dr. Don King (President, Atlantic Union Conference) and Dr. Norman Wendth (President, Atlantic Union College) via phone conference, voted to present a proposed branch campus of Washington Adventist University on the current AUC campus, effective Fall 2011. Final details must be prepared and voted by the constituencies of both institutions (WAU, AUC) with final determinations likely before the end of April. (Columbia Union Conference; Columbia, MD; April 5, 2011) 2011)

Atholton Adventist Academy – Nearing completion of their work, members of the Visiting Committee prepare the preliminary draft of the evaluation report to be presented to Ms. Marilynn Peeke, principal of AAA. Elder Sadrail Saint-Ulysse, New Jersey Education Superintendent chaired the committee and did so very effectively. The recommendation of the committee was to give AAA a six-year term of accreditation, as the committee was very impressed with the overall quality of the AAA program. (Atholton Adventist Academy; Columbia, MD; April 5, 2011)

Enjoying Games for Recess – JNA’s lower graders enjoyed a break in the weather, allowing them to spend time outdoors playing some of their favorite games. Carefully supervised and familiar with the game’s rules, the children enjoy each other’s company as much or more than the games they play. JNA’s students love their school and teachers – a fact that became very evident to the members of the evaluation Visiting Committee. (John Nevins Andrews School; Takoma Park, MD; March 30, 2011)

Jewels from Among His Treasure – Effectively teaching children is one of the greatest joys – and surely one of the most important responsibilities assumed by those who accept the call to this ministry. Pictured are the students of Ms. Parker’s 4th grade class and Ms. Terry’s 5th graders of John Nevins Andrews School. I had the privilege and pleasure of chairing the Visiting Committee that evaluated the school (March 30-31) for GCAAA and NCPSA accreditation. (John Nevins Andrews School; Takoma Park, MD; March 31, 2011) 

Fascinating Science Projects – JNA’s upper graders had their science projects on display on the gymnasium stage for members of the Visiting Committee. Displayed originally for a school science fair, the school’s administration and faculty kindly prepared the display of students’ work for Visiting Committee members to observe and enjoy. Students’ work is always prominently displayed in the halls of JNA, as teachers enjoy affirming students for their work and talents. (John Nevins Andrews School; Takoma Park, MD; March 31, 2011)

TA’s Board Addresses Important Agenda Items – Gathering together for its regularly scheduled meeting for this time of year, Takoma Academy’s governing board members listened to a number of reports and took important actions, including but not limited to (1) approving the 2011-2012 budget, (2) acting upon the employment status of JNA faculty and staff for 2011-2012, (3) reviewing and receiving the monthly financial statement; and (4) receiving administrative reports. (Takoma Academy Library; Takoma Park, MD; March 28, 2011)

Principal Daniels Gives Report – David Daniels, a principal who enjoys strong support from the board members of Takoma Academy, provides a detailed report of recent and upcoming events of interest/importance. In addition, Daniels presented the request of the Class of 2011, re: proposed senior class trip. Here, he is pictured providing the particulars of the proposed trip for board members to consider. To his left is Elder Bill Miller, president of the Potomac Conference and chair of the TA board. (Takoma Academy Library; Takoma Park, MD; March 28, 2011)

 Professional Growth for TA’s Faculty – Amy Soper (standing), Vice Principal for Academics, presented a TA’s comprehensive plan for enhancing instruction and expanding professional growth opportunities for Takoma Academy’s instructors. Takoma Academy is in the process of applying for a grant from Commonweal Foundation to improve technology on campus and to facilitate elements of the professional growth as presented by Ms. Soper. (Takoma Academy Library; Takoma Park, MD; March 28, 2011)


Something Wonderful Is Happening in AWC – Truly, the Holy Spirit is moving among believers in the Allegheny West Conference, demonstrated profoundly by the growing spirit and commitment to advance education ministry. With two schools now operating, Elder Freddie Russell (AWC President) and Yvette Cooper (AWC Superintendent) mentioned several times throughout the day, that 2011-2012 school year will likely, God-willing, start with two additional school opening. It was a true privilege to watch and catch the momentum! (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)


AWC President Russell Takes the Lead – Elder Fredrick Russell was the featured Sabbath speaker at the Central SDA Church for the worship hour. His focus, emphasized through an illustration assisted by students, was to challenge all present to “sit on the front row to witness the new creation” when, upon Christ’s return, the earth is made new. The selfless, loving act of Jesus, to give His life, as a ransom for our sins was a plan shaped in heaven even before the earth’s creation. Such is the love of God! (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)

AWC’s 1st Annual Arts Festival – As other school districts and even faith-based schools cut fine arts programs due to budget constraints, AWC is focused on the arts, seeking to instill in their students all benefits that come with engaging the arts. What are the benefits? Research suggests the arts (1) enhances cognitive language and motor skills; (2) expand learning styles beyond linguistic and mathematical reasoning; (3) increase students’ drive to succeed and their ability to take on new challenges; and (4) enhance memory and the ability of the young to communicate symbolically. (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)

Music and More Music – What an incredible array of talent were displayed by Columbia Adventist Academy and Ramah Junior Academy students throughout the festival. Choirs (by grade combinations and mass) lifted the spirit of all present. Special musical combinations and presentations (belle sticks; recorders, etc.) assured that all students were given the chance to exercise their God-given talents for parents, constituents, and guests. The festival was streamed live on-line and raised nearly $2,500 for student scholarships. (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)

Puppets Tell the Story – Seems like the students of CAA and RJA truly enjoyed the opportunity to share object lessons with fellow students as well as festival attendees. Drama presentations also helped highlight this special day. What was evident throughout the day was how much students enjoyed being engaged and how much they appreciate their principals, teachers, and church supporters. (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)  

“Every Child is an Artist” – A quote from the renowned artist, Picasso. One would have little doubt of the truth of the statement by witnessing the impressive work (composition and art) of CAA and RJA students taped to the walls of the church foyer. The pride students took in their work more than proved that art, indeed, is the outward expression of a child’s inner, heart-felt sentiments. (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)


Glass Sculptures Catch the Eye – CAA and RJA students’ artistic creativity is clearly evident as evidenced by the eye-catching glass sculptures on display at the Arts Festival. Every indication suggests that students not only appreciated learning the sculpturing technique, but with appropriate pride were pleased to show and share their work with festival attendees. (Central SDA Church; Columbus, OH; March 19, 2011)

Planning for the Union Constituency Meeting – Meeting at the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church, officers and staff of the Columbia Union Conference Office were instructed by Neville Harcombe in a program “dry run.” With less than a month before the actual session, various committees also met to plan and map out logistics and strategies to facilitate a smooth-running program. Pictured is Frank Bondurant, leading out in security and overall floor management/logistics. (SASDAC; Silver Spring, MD; March 17, 2011)


Takoma Cluster of Schools: A New Partnership – Commonweal Foundation and the Potomac Conference are partnering in a $2 million joint initiative to revitalize John Nevins Andrews School, Sligo Adventist School, and Takoma Academy through a three-pronged approach: (1) capacity-building; (2) long-term sustainability; and (3) enrollment growth/scholarship eligibility. The constituent churches of JNA and Sligo are active partners in this initiative and are planning significant investments in this matching dollar drive. Two representatives of Commonweal, Fred and Phyllis Edmonds articulated the foundation’s criteria by which the cluster of schools could actively engage in the partnership. Many were in attendance for this historic meeting. (Takoma Academy Library; Silver Spring, MD; March 16, 2011)


Visiting the Muir Woods – Columbia Union organized its own Sabbath activities, including a visit to the Muir Woods to see the giant redwoods. Being outdoors on Sabbath in a natural setting helped make the experience all the more memorable. Another activity saw CU science teachers treated to an evening meal at a local restaurant. Dr. Ian Kelly, Ms. LaVona Gillham, and Ms. Christine Greene planned, organized and/or led out in these activities. (Muir Woods/Ar Roi; San Francisco, CA; March 12, 2011)


Secondary Science Teachers Attend National Convention – Twenty-five science teachers from junior and senior academies in the Columbia Union recently attended the National Science Teachers Association convention in San Francisco, CA. Over four days, teachers were engaged in professional growth seminars/workshops; attended general sessions; organized and attended their own daily worships; and, worked to develop essential networks within the science community to enhance teaching methodologies and build vital friendships. (NTSA; San Francisco, CA; March 11 2011)

WAU Board of Trustees: First Step – The Washington Adventist University board addressed a number of important agenda items in this, the last regularly-scheduled meeting for the 2010-2011 academic year. The board took an action to continue exploring the possible extension of a branch of Washington Adventist University on the current Atlantic Union College site in So. Lancaster, Massachusetts. Though a preliminary step forward, it was an important one. Pictured with WAU board chair (Dave Weigley) and President Spence, are Dr. Don King (seated second from left; Chair, AUC Board of Trustees and Atlantic Union Conference President) and Dr. Norman Wendth (seated at front table, third from right; President of Atlantic Union College). (Sligo Fellowship Hall; Silver Spring, MD; March 9, 2011)

 WAU Governance Committee Analyzes Data & Plans Retreat – Neville Harcombe, chair of the WAU Governance Committee (center) welcomed Dr. Doug Orr (left) and Bill Farhner of Performa Higher Education, Inc. provided a preliminary glance at a select set of findings from survey feedback provided by WAU board members. Also, Performa provided the committee the opportunity to review a suggested agenda for a two-say board retreat planned for September 2011. (Sligo Fellowship Hall; Silver Spring, MD; March 9, 2011)

CUBOE: Code Items, AAF, and Search – The Columbia Union Conference K-16 Board of Education addressed a number of important items, including significant discussions regarding the proposed governance model for secondary schools by the Alumni Awards Foundation; education code revisions/additions; review of position profiles, protocols, and proposed timelines for associate director searches in 2011; recommended terms of accreditation for elementary schools undergoing evaluations in 2010-2011; and, approval of overseas trip requests for academies planning ventures in mission, senior class trips, etc. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; March 8, 2011)

JNA’s Devotion in Music – For this last meeting of CUBOE for the soon-to-end quinquennium, John Nevins Andrews students provided a delightful devotional in song and sound. Under the direction of Ms. Nora Ramos, these young students demonstrated first hand why Adventist education truly makes a difference in young lives. Singing songs and bell choir specials, the focus of the devotional was on their love for, and joy in, Jesus. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; March 8, 2011)

Gillham Honored for Service – LaVona Gillham, Elementary Associate Director for the CU, has served this union for 12 years in her current post; and has served the church for 38 years. With this being her last CUBOE meeting as a CU employee, Elders Bardu, Weigley, and Harcombe (left to right) presented LaVona with a lovely Bible as a token of appreciation for her service to our field. Last month, a special event was held at the Union office to express appreciation to Ms. Gillham for all she has done to advance the Lord’s cause in education ministry. Elder Harcombe offered a prayer of both dedication and thanks. (Neal Wilson Auditorium; Columbia, MD; March 8, 2011)

Presidents Council Prepares for Upcoming Constituency – In addition to addressing agenda items and listening to presentations on missions and GYC (Justin McNeilus), members spent time on preparing for Thursday’s Union Executive Committee; reviewing candidates’ names for ordination/commissioning; plans for evangelistic efforts in various parts of the union; and, choosing delegates for the WAU and CU sessions to be held in April. (Third Floor Conference Room; Columbia, MD; March 7, 2011)

HVCA Board Meets to Receive Report – Pictured are members of the Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy who gathered not only to addressed its local agenda needs, but to receive a report of the CU Office of Education’s data analysis and recommendations born from two days of interviews (board members, faculty, parents) conducted on the school campus by Dr. Ian Kelly, Evelyn Sullivan, and me. The report was well-received. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Huntingdon Valley, PA; February 28, 2011)

Drs. Kido and Thayer Update CUSAC Members – Dr. Elissa Kido (La Sierra University) and Dr. Jerry Thayer (Andrews University) are both key leaders in the CognitiveGenesis research initiative. Both were present at these CUSAC meetings to provide updates on results not only for the four-year NAD study, but results specific to the Columbia Union. In addition, CUSAC members were briefed on on-going and potential/future research projects and models spawned by CognitiveGenesis data. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 24, 2011)

CUSAC in Full Session – With nearly all members in attendance, CUSAC addressed a number of key agenda items including, but not limited to, (1) code proposals, (2) overseas travel requests, (3) AAF governance proposals; (4) proposed changes in NAD working policy; (5) CognitiveGenesis results (4-years) and presentation training; (6) search for associate directors; and (7) school evaluation/accreditation issues. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 24, 2011)

 Dr. Kelly’s Devotional – Dr. Ian Kelly, CU Associate Director, provided a most interesting devotional focused on the impact of our work as educators on the lives of others. Using a metaphor built on one of Aesop’s fables, Ian challenged educators to daily make a difference for good as they work in the spiritual ministry of Adventist education. Dr. Kelly is in his 14th year of service in the Columbia Union and is highly respected by his colleagues. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 24, 2011)

Certification Review Committee – Meeting in the evening and chaired by Dr. Ian Kelly (Secondary Associate Director), the Certification Review Committee meets once each year to review annual application for the teaching of secondary subjects by junior academies from across the Columbia Union. The committee is composed of conference superintendents and union associate directors and works diligently at its task to assure quality instruction at for freshman and sophomore courses taught at the junior academy level. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 23, 2011)

WAU Education Majors Interview – Junior and senior education majors from Washington Adventist University interviewed with local conference superintendents, shortly after enjoying a delicious lunch provided by the CU Office of Education. For juniors, the opportunity provides them a chance to learn the essentials of good interviewing while for seniors, the interviews are for the purpose of seeking teaching positions within the Columbia Union. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 23, 2011)

WAU Education: Dr. Gwen Smith – Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Department of Washington Adventist University, Dr. Gwen Smith provided principals and conference superintendents details regarding planned Summer 2011 course offerings for educators. Accompanied by two colleagues, professors of education, Dr. Smith also focused on services available to K-12 education in the Columbia Union through WAU Education. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 23, 2011)

Ralph Yanello: Shield the Vulnerable – Mr. Yanello, President of the venture, Shield the Vulnerable, made a presentation to conference superintendents immediately after the Elder Bascom’s presentation. Yanello’s company focused on providing training to teachers, pastors, volunteers and others of organizations and people that deal either directly or indirectly with children. Conferences will consider whether to take advantage of the training that is made available through Shield the Vulnerable. Several unions and a select set of conferences across the NAD are using Shield the Vulnerable services. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 23, 2011)

Dr. Maury Bascom Offers a Morning Devotional – Elder Maury Bascom provided a challenging, thought-provoking, worship that was a call to action for the CUSAC group. Sharing with the group of how the Lord has led throughout his entire life, leading him to experience incredible opportunities to advance the Lord’s work both in the United States and abroad, Elder Bascom reminded all that the Lord is ever near and our calling is to do His will with all our hearts. Elder Bascom, after the devotional, made a “Kids for Blind Kids” presentation to all present – seeking the support of schools to raise funds to send blind children to summer camp. The program is sponsored by the Christian Record Braille Foundation. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 23, 2011)

The Queen and Her “Court” – Towards the end of the evening’s program, LaVona’s Office of Education colleagues joined her at the rostrum for a prayer of dedication. Each of her colleagues, as well as all guests present, wish her health, happiness, and joy in living for Christ as she heads to Florida to enjoy her retirement years. She will work in the CUOE until early June before making the official move. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

Cake for the Queen and Her Guests – Evelyn Sullivan (CU Associate Director) and Jennifer Wakefield (CUOE Administrative Assistant) worked diligently to make the program a real success – one thoroughly enjoyed by LaVona. The evening’s tasty dessert was a “Queen’s Cake.” LaVona was pleasantly surprised when first glancing at the cake, she noticed her queenly photo. It certainly gave her a good chuckle. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

Giving Gifts: Light Moments Indeed – Called to the rostrum to receive special gifts arranged by the Columbia Union and each of the local conferences, LaVona was completely surprised by one of the two gifts she received. Asked to respond, LaVona’s sense of humor did not disappoint. Of course, having worked with her for nearly 20 years in total while working in Georgia-Cumberland as well as the Columbia Union, I could not resist a humorous quip. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

The “Royal” Coronation: Queen Gillham – For years, CUCC and CUSAC members have kiddingly referred to LaVona Gillham as “Queen.” Making the retirement party’s theme a regal one was what most guests would have expected and did, indeed, enjoy. With a queen’s tiara and sash, LaVona’s coronation was truly one of the most enjoyable and humorous moments of the entire evening. LaVona has a great sense of humor and was gracious and engaged throughout the night – endearing her even more to all who were present. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)  

Tributes from Conference Educational Leaders – Each conference office of education sent a representative to the rostrum to provide a short tribute and/or humorous anecdote regarding LaVona’s influence or a special experience she had in each respective field. The humor touched everyone’s proverbial “funny bone.” Shown in the pictures is Yvette Cooper (right), Superintendent of Allegheny West, and Donna Nicholas, Associate Superintendent of Mountain View. The Office of Education extends its sincere thanks to each educator who offered a tribute on this special night. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011) 

The Evening’s Special Music – Sarah Kelly, wife of Dr. Ian Kelly (Associate Director) provided the evening’s first special with a wonderful classical piano piece. Later in the evening yet another musical special was provided that involved a vocal piece by Sean Lee Kelly, son of Dr Ian and Sarah Kelly. Sean Lee is accompanied on the piano by his mother – and both Sean Lee and Sarah received loud applause for each special provided. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011) 

Farewell LaVona Gillham: Welcome – With over 30 guests in attendance, I had the privilege of welcoming members of the CU Curriculum Committee (CUCC) and School Administrators Council (CUSAC) to the retirement farewell party for LaVona Gillham, Elementary Associate Director for the Columbia Union. Welcoming guests was made a bit easier by sharing a poem I composed to begin the evening’s special event. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

Cindy Puterbaugh Provides a Multi-Grade Update – Associate Superintendent of the Ohio Conference, Cindy was invited by committee facilitators to give CUCC members an update on how the new science series is making provision for small school/multi-grade teachers. Cindy has represented the Columbia Union on a number of NAD curriculum and ad hoc committees over the past quinquennium and is highly respected and appreciated for her innovative ideas and contributions to curriculum development on a number of organizational levels. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

Dr. Carol Campbell Provides a NADOE Perspective – Dr. Carol Campbell, in her first full year as Elementary Associate for the North American Division Office of Education (NADOE), was invited to make several key presentations for CUCC members, including covering curriculum development in science, reading, and kindergarten. She updated committee members on purchasing, fee structure, projected roll-out dates, etc. regarding new curriculum initiatives of the NADOE. Interestingly, Dr. Campbell is a former student of LaVona Gillham, CU Elementary Associate Director. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

Richard Carey: Technology in the Classroom – Richard Carey, Superintendent of Schools for the Southern California Conference and current member of the NAD Technology and Distance Education Committee, presented idea and key topics, re: practical applications of technology in teaching methodology. His presence, planned for and arranged by LaVona Gillham over a year ago, offered CUCC members the opportunity to ask questions of how to, and offer practical insights, re: making a classroom come to life through innovative applications of software. Richard provided the morning devotional as well. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011) 

CUCC Members Brave the Weather – Though the CU Curriculum Committee meeting’s start was delayed by the challenge of five inches of snow, members showed up faithfully to experience a presentation on technology and to address key agenda items, including but not limited to (1) K-2 correlations, (2) handbook for small school success; (3) NADOE curriculum planning; (4) registrar’s manual proposal; (5) secondary standards training; (6) ITBS/standardized testing; and (7) examining the Ohio mandate for flex credit at the high school level. This series of meetings is the last for the current quinquennium. A select subset of the group will be allowing other practitioners to offer their input in future meetings. (Columbia Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 22, 2011)

UDOEC in San Antonio, TX – With four days of meetings scheduled in San Antonio, two for Early Childhood Education Advisory meetings attended by Evelyn Sullivan (CU ECEC/Pre-K Associate) and an additional two days for Union Directors of Education Council, which I attended, this has been a full week. Directors and ECEC associates count on the NAD Office of Education to put together a substantive, timely agenda to make time spent away from the field worthwhile. This series of meetings met that criterion handily. Much of what was learned will be shared with members of the Columbia Union School Administrators Council this coming week. Dennis Plubell, flanked by NADOE colleagues Carol Campbell and Larry Blackmer, provides emphasis to a point well made! (Hilton San Antonio Airport; San Antonio, TX; February 17, 2011)

Dr. Eunice Warfield’s Favorite Text – John 9:4 – “We must work the works of Him who sent Me and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on, when no man can work.” Focusing on the Lord’s calling to education ministry, one which she would not have chosen, Dr. Warfield shared with UDOEC members the path the Lord chose for her to engage the work of education; the work Ellen White speaks of as “the most important work.” Dr. Warfield not only provided touching insights, re: her own personal journey, but shared EGW passages that reminded all present of what a wonderful and important work is education ministry. (Hilton San Antonio Airport; San Antonio, TX; February 17, 2011)

Alumni Awards Foundation Shared Its Revised Governance Model – With laudable persistence, the Alumni Awards Foundation continues to work closely with the Church in formulating a workable governance model, acceptable to all parties, for reinvigorating Adventist schools. Patience, mixed with firm determination, is slowly but surely moving all parties to a model that most believe is potentially viable. Three academies have been tentatively targeted as possible pilots for the proposed model. Pictured are Byron DeFoor (AAF board member) and Melanie Litchfield (Director, AAF), and Greg Gerard (GCA Principal, photographed alone) – all of which presented insights into the revised model and approach to members of the UDOEC. (Hilton San Antonio Airport; San Antonio, TX; February 17, 2011)

Getting the Work Done! – Members of the UDOEC addressed a number of important agenda items in the two days of meetings, including but not limited to (1) national and regional accreditation; student labor; technology; 2012 national teachers convention planning; proposed revisions to NAD working policy; and, academies’ finances, re: audits. Other items that will be shared with educational leaders of the Columbia Union will, it’s hoped, help to facilitate more effective education ministry not only in our field but across the division. (Hilton San Antonio Airport; San Antonio, TX; February 17, 2011)

A Little Personal Time at El Meson Restaurant – After a full day of work, I had the joy of spending some evening time with my loved ones, daughter Bethany and her wonderful “hubby” Justin. Spending Valentine evening was special for me but I knew I had to make it special for them. So, I took them to the El Meson restaurant in West Carrollton, OH. They insisted I stay with them, in spite of the special nature of the day. Both are in the final year at KCMA in the graduate physician assistant program. Each completes clinical rotations this summer, yet will participate in graduation exercises on the evening of April 30th. (El Meson Restaurant; West Carrollton, OH; February 14, 2011)

KCMA Board of Trustees Meets – Addressing a number of key agenda items, including budget assumptions and tuition rate/fee projections for 2011-12; operational performance, re: finances; planned program/course offering innovations, etc., this board meeting proved to be quite engaging and productive. Chairman of the board, Fred Manchur (seated, center right) keeps the board on-task and processes through agenda items in a timely, substantive manner. Dr. Scriven, KCMA president (seated, center left), as is his administrative team, is much appreciated for the leadership he gives to the institution and diligence in providing board members reliable data that drives decision-making. (Ridgeleigh Terrace; Centerville, OH; February 15, 2011)

MVA’s “First Couple” – Pictured are Rob Stevenson, principal of Mount Vernon Academy and his wife, Tina, who works as his administrative assistant. Rob is in his second year of principalship at MVA and has just returned from taking 13 MVA students to Maluti, Lesotho in Africa for a mission project. Rob has worked diligently to increase enrollment at MVA and also to bring innovative technological teaching methodologies to the academy. Tina is in her first year of service at MVA and is much appreciated by both students and fellow workers. (MVA Administration Building; Mount Vernon, OH; February 14, 2011)

MVA Mascot Is a Source of Pride – The academy’s mascot, the MVA Eagle, is well known not only to students and stakeholders of MVA, but to the opposing teams that face off in competition on the basketball and volleyball courts of local participating schools. Students enjoy the competition and excitement that comes with making new friends and engaging competitors with a commitment to Christian sportsmanship. (MVA Administration Building; Mount Vernon, OH; February 14, 2011)

Gearing Up for A Test! – Having entered Ms. Keri Conwell’s classroom at the beginning of an English class period, I must admit I enjoyed the students’ enthusiasm and fun-loving engagement with each other and this guest. Soon after this photo was taken, students were preparing to take an exam and to pass in their journals for the instructor’s review. Smart board technology has added an interesting, if not highly effective tool, to the teacher’s teaching methodology arsenal. Students seem to appreciate it as well. (MVA Administration Building; Mount Vernon, OH; February 14, 2011)

Looking for New Teachers – I visited with Jay Colburn, Superintendent of the Ohio Conference, for a brief while shortly after leaving the MVA campus. My visit was unannounced, yet Jay, shown here actually processing names of prospective teachers by phone with his colleague, Cindy Puterbaugh (Associate), took the time to visit with me. I appreciated the diligence I witnessed as the two (Jay and Cindy) worked through the challenge of the day. Both of these fine leaders are truly dedicated servants who year-in and year-out work to advance the cause of Adventist education ministry in Ohio. (Ohio Conference Office; Mount Vernon, OH; February 14, 2011)

Pastor Jencks Heads to Indianapolis – It is not a customary practice for me to note as I am doing the departure of a pastor to another part of the Lord’s vineyard. However, Steve Jencks has been pastor of the Atholton SDA Church for the past seven years and has done been a real blessing to my family and me. He recently accepted a call to the Indiana Conference to pastor a 600-member church. He assumes his new responsibilities in early April. He will be missed and my family and I pray for his continued success in his pastoral calling. We will miss his wonderful wife, Tina, who works for GCAS. (Atholton SDA Church; Columbia, MD; February 12, 2011)

Visiting Committee Visits Spring Valley Academy – Spring Valley is at the midpoint of its current accreditation cycle. The committee visiting the campus to analyze the responses of school administration to the major recommendations and action plans resulting from the last full visit of an NAD/NCA joint evaluation several years ago. This visit determines whether a recommendation goes forward to the accrediting agencies for the full term of six years to be granted. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)

Mission, Vision, and Values – Members of the team were pleased to find posted in strategic areas of the building the academy’s mission, vision, and values – all important guides to who and what the school represents; its strategic direction, and the values by which it functions. Typically, visiting committees routinely look for such postings during evaluative visits to schools. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)

Pre-K Program Up and Running – In its first year of operation, Spring Valley Academy’s Pre-K program is functioning quite well. In fact, its numbers keep growing slowly but surely. The room that houses the Pre-K program is well-equipped, attractively set up, very functional, and large enough to run a very effective program for 15 or more youngsters. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)


Rachel’s Challenge
– Part of the character education program for students, Pre-k through Grade 12 is “Rachel’s Challenge” – named after Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School tragedy. Rachel Scott died as a result of standing up for her Christian convictions. She was one who cared deeply for all people. Rachel’s Challenge is a program that seeks to instill in others that same conviction and care for others demonstrated by Rachel Scott. Learn more about the program on-line. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)

Touring the School – Jeff Bovee and Dr. Donovan Ross, SVA’s principal and vice principal respectively, took the visiting committee members on a quick tour of the school. Such tours help the committee get a better grasp of the program’s offerings, staffing, etc. Among the places of interest for the committee during this visit was SVA’s library. The direction libraries are to take in the future, given advancing technologies, is a pressing question. Also, the team was pleased to see the academy’s commitment to fine arts, including music (band, choir, private lessons) and, in this additional photo, the pottery classroom area. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)

Lunch for the Little Ones – The team’s visit coincidentally came at a time when lunch was being served to youngsters of the lower grades. Well-behaved at their assigned tables and hungry for their lunch, the children either enjoyed the lunches brought from home and/or purchased from the lunches made available by the school. The dining area is quite large and serves the school for multiple purposes. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)

Visiting Classrooms and Teachers – Among those visited briefly were Mr. Knudsen, Bible teacher and Chaplain of SVA; Kate Baldwin, science and math instructor – and winner of last year’s CU Outstanding Educator Award (secondary teachers); and Dr. Donovan Ross, academy vice principal and math teacher. Spring Valley is blessed with a talented and dedicated faculty. (Spring Valley Academy; Centerville, OH; February 7, 2011)


Preparing for the CU Constituency Meeting – Being held at the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, MD, the upcoming constituency meeting requires careful planning. Pictured here are the chairs of the various planning committees. Elder Neville Harcombe (standing), Union Secretary is coordinating all the preparations for the session. Here we are visiting in the sanctuary to get a better idea of the logistical advantages and challenges that must be considered. The Office of Education is responsible for platform/program planning. (SASDAC; Silver Spring, MD; February 8, 2011)

WAU’s Governance Committee Meets – Evening meetings are quite common in the work of CU administrators. Pictured here is the Governance Subcommittee of the Washington Adventist University board, working on plans for enhancing board function through greater understanding of roles and responsibilities. The group also reviewed survey data and is working with a professional consulting agency in planning for a university board retreat in September 2011. (CU Union Office; Columbia, MD; February 8, 2011)

William Prescott Preparatory Academy – Focused on providing excellent Christian education for the young of the greater San Antonio, TX area, and planning to open in the Fall of 2012, William Prescott Preparatory Academy (WPPA) will initially be housed in the building you see in the photo. It will provide ample space for the phased development of the academy program. The building is on the national register of historic sites as the additional photo attests. (WPPA; San Antonio, TX; January 30, 2011)

Janet Rowe, MD – Driven by a vision to found an Adventist Christian school in an area of need, Dr. Janet Rowe, along with her husband and a small group of highly-motivated, deeply committed board members, is working diligently to make WPPA a reality. Dr. Rowe, shown introducing the members of the board to all present for the dedicatory service, is herself a product of Adventist education and has had a lifelong commitment to advancing its cause for others. I am grateful to the Rowe family for their kindness extended throughout my stay in San Antonio. (WPPA; San Antonio, TX; January 30, 2011)

Bless This House – Local church member and talented soprano, Ms. Gail Wettstein, provided an uplifting special music, seeking the Lord’s blessing through song for the WPPA building. Ms. Wettstein also led the 80+ in attendance for the building dedication in the group singing of the hymn, “To God Be the Glory.” What a wonderful experience! (WPPA; San Antonio, TX; January 30, 2011)

Providing the Dedicatory Address – Considering it both a privilege and pleasure, I was invited to provide the dedicatory address for WPPA. The occasion was splendid in every way. The focus of my presentation was tied to the imperative and successes of Christian education as told through narratives. The group to which I presented was one that seemed wholly supportive of the soon-to-be launched education ministry of WPPA. (WPPA; San Antonio, TX; January 30, 2011)

An Uplifting Sabbath Service – Mr. Callis Rowe, husband to Dr. Janet Rowe and strong, invaluable supporter of the WPPA initiative, was the attending elder for the Sabbath service held at the Laurel Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church. Mr. Rowe, who has served in public education effectively for many years and is now retired, is heavily involved in the ministries of the church and is highly regarded and respected by members of the congregation. (Laurel Heights SDA Church; San Antonio, TX; January 29, 2011)

A Friend Preaches to the Congregation – I was most pleased to find that Pastor Buell Fogg was the speaker for the divine hour of worship. I met Buell for the first time a number of years ago while serving as vice principal of Blue Mountain Academy. Pastor Fogg was invited, by then principal Rick Emery, to have a week of prayer for the academy students. This Sabbath’s message spoke to my heart in much the same way I remembered his messages of years ago did for both BMA students and me. (Laurel Heights SDA Church; San Antonio, TX; January 29, 2011)

Joy Hague Plays – Highly regarded and wonderfully talented pianist/organist Joy Hague accompanied for the hour of divine worship special music and hymns. Ms. Hague has a wide range of interests and I found her to be a very engaging conversationalist, well-versed in a number of topics. Her talents are much appreciated not only by the Laurel Heights congregation, but she also plays the organ for a number of local churches each weekend. (Laurel Heights SDA Church; San Antonio, TX; January 29, 2011)

Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy - Ms. Evelyn Sullivan and Dr. Ian Kelly, Associate Directors of Education for the Columbia Union Conference, joined me in a two-day visit to the school for the purpose of assessing the prevailing school culture and program. The visit was pleasant, informative, and as the Office of Education trusts, productive in yielding meaningful outcomes for the school and its supporting communities. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Willow Grove, PA; January 19-20, 2011)

Teaching Religion and Information Technology – Caleb Vincross teaches both subjects to junior academy students at HVCA. Perhaps more importantly, Caleb, a theology graduate and one who has a deep interest in the young people of HVCA, daily reaches out to students who seek out his advice. Caleb has given much in this, his first year of teaching. He is much appreciated by the young people of HVCA. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Willow Grove, PA; January 19-20, 2011) 

Jennifer Bianco at Work – Former Columbia Union Outstanding Educator Award winner, Jennifer Bianco teaches first and second grades at HVCA. Her classroom is filled to the maximum as parents appreciate her diligence in providing top quality Adventist education to their children. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Willow Grove, PA; January 19-20, 2011)

At Work in the Computer Lab – HVCA’s kindergarten students proved quite adept at navigating programs in the school’s computer lab. Clearly, the students were having fun and learning. The lab is used by all students at HVCA and is an invaluable asset for purposes of instruction and meeting student interests and needs. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Willow Grove, PA; January 19-20, 2011)

The Challenge of Upper Grades – Rick Bianco teaches a variety of disciplines for students in grades nine and ten. Rick is a solid instructor, very much liked by his students. He is a former student of mine when both he, and his wife Jennifer, attended Blue Mountain Academy in the 80s. I am so very grateful to the Lord for their commitment to Adventist education ministry and I am proud of them as BMA alumni. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Willow Grove, PA; January 19-20, 2011)

Principal Gary Davis at Work – Mr. Davis is a teaching principal who has served at HVCA for seven years. He works tirelessly for the school as does his wife, Kathy, a lower grades teacher. Both Gary and Kathy are long-time advocates of Adventist Christian education and have given their professional lives to its cause. (Huntingdon Valley Christian Academy; Willow Grove, PA; January 19-20, 2011)