By Jon Eckert, Ed.D, and Bill Sterrett, Ph.D
Educators are facing significant challenges and tremendous opportunities. Baylor’s Center for School Leadership (BCSL) exists to develop processes, improve schools, build networks among like-minded educators, and inspire school leaders to bring joy to their schools and classrooms across the world.
In Esther 4:14, Mordecai enlists the help of Esther with this plea, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?”
As educators ourselves, we know that this work is a calling. The great hope in all we do is to help kids become who they are created to be.
Since the BCSL opened its doors in 2019, we have focused on the goal to be the most influential catalyst for Christians in school leadership in the world. We take our work with collective leadership, and the work of teachers and administrators toward shared goals, to build better schools and engage with educators to serve each student. When the BCSL launched, we had a vision to impact 300,000 children worldwide by 2025. We are excited to share that we’re on track to reach that goal this year!
As the BCSL grows, we are building our team to better serve, and over the past year, we have added new team members we would like to introduce to you.
I, Jon Eckert, Ed.D., came to Baylor in 2019 with more than two decades of experience in education. I provide academic leadership as Co-Executive Director for the BCSL and is program director for Baylor’s Master of Arts in School Leadership as well as the Executive Doctorate of K-12 Education. My research supports collective leadership, teaching effectiveness, evaluation and strategic compensation to enhance that effectiveness, and STEM education. In the book, Just Teaching, I penned, “Teaching is life-giving work, essential for the development of thriving humans. It is devastating to hear teachers refer to themselves as ‘just teachers’ as if they are powerless and without status. What if we turned the phrase’s meaning upside-down and claimed its redemptive power? ‘Just teachers’ care for each student. Teachers who are just, cultivate freedom, justice, and flourishing.”
I, Bill Sterrett, Ph.D., joined Baylor in 2022 as Department Chair and Professor of Educational Leadership. I am a former principal who served in Charlottesville, Virginia and then moved to North Carolina to serve as a professor of educational leadership at UNC-Wilmington. I have researched and written about innovation in school leadership, time management, green and sustainable schools, and have led several collaborative grant efforts focused on leadership. In my role as Co-Executive Director at the BCSL, I work with Jon Eckert, Ed.D., and the BCSL team in supporting school leaders through professional development and collaborative grant work focused on helping leaders make their learning communities better.
Jill Anderson, MBA, APR, joined the BCSL team in June 2023. With a background in marketing, communications and development, Anderson loves to see the impact that authentically engaging with an audience has on growing and strengthening relationships between an organization and its supporters. Anderson sees herself as a storyteller with the great opportunity to share the incredible work that Baylor is doing to make a positive impact in the world for future generations. Anderson has served at Baylor since 2017. In prior roles, Jill served in public relations and marketing in the nonprofit sector and higher education. Jill earned her Executive MBA from Baylor in 2020, the Accreditation in Public Relations certification in 2016, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor in 2006. As Senior Director for the BCSL, Anderson is excited to work alongside the team to enhance awareness of the BCSL’s research, professional learning events and improvement communities among educators worldwide.
Erik Ellefsen, M.Ed., Director of Networks and Improvement for the BCSL, manages the Christian Leadership Transformation Project, a program designed to equip Christian educators across the country by gathering networks of school teams around problems of practice to catalyze school improvement and student flourishing. Ellefsen has served in education for more than two decades as a teacher, coach, dean, counselor, principal, and union leader. He also serves as Senior Fellow for CACE and Cardus, hosts the Digical Education podcast, and is a leading collaborator and author of the Mindshift project. Ellefsen is a graduate of Wheaton College, with a BA in Social Science and Illinois teacher accreditation, an M.Ed. in Administration and Leadership from Benedictine University with Illinois administrative credential, and he attended Boston University to further his studies in Educational Policy and Organizational Leadership.
Sahira Kodra, BSEd, serves as the Program Coordinator for the BCSL. Through her role, Kodra engages in the thriving community of Christian leadership in schools and districts. She provides administrative coordination within the BCSL through related event planning, program support, meetings, and budgets. She joined Baylor University in the summer of 2023 from a position in Leander Independent School District, where she previously worked as a classroom teacher. Kodra received her BSEd in Elementary Education with a Gifted and Talented Concentration from Baylor University in the spring of 2020. As an undergrad she worked as a School of Education student worker and is blessed to be back at Baylor as a staff member.
With the catalyzing growth we see in the BCSL, we are excited to be part of a team focused on supporting school leaders. Leadership is needed now more than ever, and we get to work with great educators making an impactful difference in the lives of students throughout the world.
As we support you as educators, we want to remind you that perhaps you were made for such a time as this. We want to walk alongside you in your work to prepare students for who they are designed to be.
For expert insight and encouragement, check out our Just Schools podcast in addition to this Journal. Our podcast and journal articles are released on alternating Tuesdays and they offer insight and advice from your peers. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn @baylorcsl for tips and resources to implement into your daily work.
We would love to see you at one or both of our professional learning events this year! See event details and register below.
Culture of Joy
November 1, 2023
Baylor’s Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center Ballroom
1 – 6:30 p.m.
Option to join the group for a Baylor volleyball game at 7 p.m.
Just Schools Academy
February 12-13, 2024
Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center Ballroom
Baylor University Campus
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day