An Introduction to Our Newest Publication: Principles of Good Practice for Governance in Episcopal Parish Day Schools

The first publication of NAES principles in 2005, Principles of Good Practice for Furthering Episcopal Identity in Episcopal Schools, was universally well-received by a wide audience of Episcopal school leaders. The Principles continues to be a resource that supports Episcopal schools in their journeys to describe, teach, communicate, and live out their essential missions as Episcopal schools. NAES published the Principles in a pamphlet form that enables school leaders to utilize them in a variety of ways:

  • in orientations of boards, staff, students, and vestries,
  • during strategic, annual planning, and accreditation processes,
  • during leadership transitions,
  • in the development of worship, religious education, and service programs, and
  • in the recruitment and retention of students, board, and staff.

We continue to be gratified by the response and the myriad ways that the Principles serves as a resource for Episcopal school leaders.

Along with Episcopal identity, the theme of leadership and governance continues to be central to NAES’ focus and ministry. Building upon the positive feedback from the first set of principles, the NAES board and staff determined to move forward with the development of further principles. Because over 900 parishes and cathedrals in the Episcopal Church have a school as part of their ministry, and with the understanding that the governance of such schools is complex and challenging, the NAES board and staff resolved to develop Principles of Good Practice for Governance in Episcopal Parish Day Schools.

Over the years, the Association’s consultation services, publications, and conferences have focused upon governance, and because of their number, often upon governance in the parish day school setting. Numerous relevant articles on the governance relationship between the church and school in the parish setting have been developed and are part of the NAES archives, which can be found in both the Library and Network sections of this website. Many years of telephone and on-site consultations with parish day school leaders underscored the difficulties leaders have in understanding appropriate roles and relationships, and observing and respecting governance boundaries.

With this as background, in January 2007 the NAES Governing Board voted to authorize the development of a draft of parish day school governance principles. The first draft was presented to the board in January 2008, with revised drafts brought to the Board in April and September 2008. Feedback from a group of rectors and heads was an important part of the revision process. The final draft was approved by the board in September 2008. Principles of Good Practice for Governance in Episcopal Parish Day Schools was published this fall, and the first pamphlets were displayed in November at Biennial 2008. Each school will receive a copy of the Principles.

School leaders will find the Principles particularly useful during orientations of vestry, board, staff, and parents, as part of accreditation, strategic and annual planning processes, in vestry, board, rector and head evaluation processes, during leadership transitions, and in marketing to the community the unique church/school partnership found in parish day schools.

In an effort to continue to expand services and resources to Episcopal schools, the Association plans to develop and publish future principles. Our goal in the near future includes Principles of Good Practice for Episcopal Schools in the areas of:

  • leadership transitions
  • worship, and
  • religious education

While the Principles of Good Practice for Governance in Episcopal Parish Day Schools focuses upon parish day school governance, they bespeak good governance and serve as an effective resource for any type of Episcopal school.

The Principles concludes with these words that define the heart and spirit of effective parish day school governance:

As role models for the children and families served in Episcopal schools, these leaders are called to uphold the values that underlie and inform these principles:

  • the importance of healthy, trusting, supportive relationships;
  • the need for an awareness of and respect for boundaries and appropriate roles;
  • the responsibility and commitment to continually educate members of the community about effective governance practices; and
  • the partnership model that unites a parish with the school.

NAES commends these Principles to church and school leaders. To order pamphlet copies, call the NAES office (800.334.7626, ext. 6134) or log in and visit our online Bookstore.

Laura C. Walker is senior associate consultant to NAES and president of Walker & Associates, LLC, Coral Gables, Florida.