With many of Hillcrest's faculty holding certified teaching licenses, and a number of others holding advanced degrees, Hillcrest has embarked on an initiative to certify all of their teachers on a national banner.
The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) is certifying Hillcrest's faculty in a process that has involved the group engaging in over 20 hours of ongoing group training. The Hillcrest faculty applied for certification by submitting credentials and transcripts from their teaching experience and past schools of study to warrant acceptance into the national certification. After ACSI granted passage into their program, the Hillcrest staff began engaging in the specialized training components from ACSI that narrow the focus and provide unique benchmarks that align with Hillcrest's overall mission.
The teaching and training sessions included studies into the development patterns of a student, marking a special way of seeing the students from a growth mindset. It also included guided study into the design and structure of the classroom, ensuring that the full picture of Scripture comes through in the academic and character training inside Hillcrest's classrooms.
The program focused on enhancing Bible-based schools to reflect a grace-based approach to their instruction. Special resources showed how Christian schools are markedly different from secular schools in their approach, namely in the way the school approaches the student, specific subject matter, and the student's family in a way that reflects the design of God revealed in the Bible.
The training sessions spilled over into the dormitory staff for a series on grace-based training and correction. Special seminars by Paul David Tripp opened conversations in small groups that reflect the nature of Hillcrest to treat each student as made in the image of Christ, finding helpful ways to guide students to live lives that reflect God's image as they grow in their knowledge and dependence on Christ.
Through the entire training project the staff and faculty were led to consider how they bring in the entire story of Scripture through their classroom, helping students see their identity as an image bearer of God, understanding that their image and the world around them has been marred by sin, that Jesus Christ has redeemed their image and and the world, and that there is a future redemption for all of mankind and creation in Christ Jesus.
The faculty spent a significant amount of time in reading groups as they worked to create foundations for the capstone of Hillcrest's year-long professional development and national certification initiative, a thesis on the philosophy of Christian education. The comprehensive papers will be submitted by each faculty member to describe how their unique classroom training engages the values and marks a difference in how they approach their subject matter from a distinctly Christian perspective versus a secular explanation of mankind and the universe.