Leading Insights

ACSI's Leading Insights series highlights the latest thinking on best practices for Christian school educators in areas of key importance in their schools. Each monograph in the series draws on leading experts, as well as Christian school perspectives and voices, to share fresh ideas for advancing you school's Christ-centered mission in an important area of focus.

 
 
Lynn E. Swaner
Series Editor:

Dr. Lynn E. Swaner is the chief strategy and innovation officer at ACSI, where she leads initiatives and develops strategies to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Dr. Swaner serves as a Cardus Senior Fellow and is the co-author or editor of multiple books on Christian education, including Flourishing Together: A Christian Vision for Students, Educators, and Schools Catalyzing Change in Christian Education. Prior to joining ACSI, she served as a professor of education and a Christian school administrator in New York.

 
Leading Insights: Special Education and Inclusion


Leading Insights: Special Education and Inclusion

This monograph, Special Education and Inclusion, features experts in theology, research, and practice related to serving students with disabilities in the Christian school setting, along with the alumni, parent, and head of school perspective on inclusive education. The authors share new insights on how Christian schools can create cultures of belonging and mutual care that reflect God's heart for all children—who are each uniquely made in His image—and in doing so, shine a beacon of hope for families in their communities.

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Contributing Authors:
 
Dr. Thomas L. BoehmDr. Thomas Boehm’s work is situated at the intersection of disability and faith. In the summer of 2019, he helped launch and leads a new Center for Faith and Disability at Wheaton College. Since 2015, he has served as Wheaton’s Ann Haskins Associate Professor of Special Education and the Coordinator of the Special Education Program. In 2009, Dr. Boehm founded and continues to direct Faith for ALL, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and supporting inclusive faith communities. Dr. Boehm’s research and writing focus on building inclusive community within schools and congregations to improve family quality of life for both people with and without disability.
 
Dr. Erik W. CarterDr. Erik Carter is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. His research and teaching focuses on evidence-based strategies for supporting inclusion and valued roles in school, work, community, and congregational settings for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is especially passionate about equipping churches and schools to be communities of belonging for those with disabilities.
 
Elizabeth Lucas DombrowksiElizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the executive director of All Belong, equipping congregations and schools to glorify God through purposeful, innovative inclusion of persons of varied abilities. All Belong partners with Christ-centered schools across the country to support their students, and welcomes conversations and questions about inclusion of students of all abilities. She holds an MBA from Grand Valley State University.
 
Matthew H. LeeDr. Matthew H. Lee is ACSI’s Director of Research. Dr. Lee is co-editor of the book Religious Liberty and Education and has published numerous research articles related to school choice outcomes, private school leadership, and educational program evaluation. Dr. Lee’s work at ACSI involves building on ACSI’s groundbreaking Flourishing Schools Research and sustainability initiatives, as well as developing new initiatives that will undergird ACSI’s thought leadership in Christian education.
 
Kate E. StraterDr. Kate E. Strater is an assistant professor of special education at Calvin University. After 18 years in public education serving in a variety of teaching, consulting, and administrative roles, she now serves as a teacher educator in the field of special education. Her areas of research include developing individualized supports for self-determination, quality of life, and goal attainment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disability. She is passionate about transition planning and growing inclusive employment and post-secondary education opportunities.
 
 
 
Leading Insights: Mental Health and Well-being


Leading Insights: Mental Health and Well-being

 

This monograph, Mental Health and Well-being, features practitioners, experts, and researchers in school counseling, student mental health, and wellness. The authors, who have worked in and with Christian schools, share valuable insights and practical strategies for attending to mental health needs and promoting well-being in Christian education. With a focus on creating a faith-based foundation and modeling best practice, this monograph encourages Christian educators as they seek to care well for the students and adults in the school communities—in and through Christ.

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Contributing Authors:
 
Cara DixonCara Dixon, LPC, NCC is the chief executive officer of Growth Minded Counseling and Consulting and a seminar leader at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to these roles, Cara was the founder and lead accreditation officer of a partial hospitalization program, and the director of counseling services at a Christian boarding and day school. Cara has supervised teams in both clinical and school-based settings for years to provide high quality mental health support services to individuals. She has written blogs, been interviewed for podcasts, and given seminars on the topic of mental health in Christian schools.
 
Nancy GillespieNancy Gillespie is a licensed school counselor and has served at Grove City Christian School (GCCS) outside of Columbus, Ohio, for the past thirteen years. At GCCS, she has created a comprehensive school counseling program and continues to manage students’ needs in the areas of academic success, personal social development, and college and career options. Concurrently, she is a first-year doctoral student in pursuit of her Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from The Ohio State University. Working at a Christian school gives her the opportunity to share her love of education, counseling, and people with the love of Christ at the center.
 
Kelsey HauserKelsey Hauser is research assistant for the School Counselor Mental Health Initiative and a master’s level graduate student in clinical counseling and school counseling at Denver Seminary. She has a background in education as a licensed substitute teacher and special education paraprofessional.
 
Ginger HillGinger Hill is the founder of Good Health for Good Works, where she helps the earnest, but often exhausted, workers in Christian organizations take steps toward healthier living so they can stay well to serve well and effectively fulfill their God-given calling. She supports Christian organizations through employee wellness seminars, coaching, and consulting. As an ACSI Ministry Partner, Ginger has a special place in her heart for teachers. In her career, she has worked with individual teachers to help them develop strategies for healthy living within their demanding profession and presented wellness seminars to Chicago public school teachers as part of the Chicago Lives Healthy program. Ginger has over twenty years of experience in the employee wellness industry and is a committed Christian who seeks to apply biblical principles to every area of life, including helping people to improve their health.
 
Brittany MillerBrittany Miller is a research associate with the School Counseling Mental Health Initiative (SCMHI) at Denver Seminary. As part of the SCMHI team, Brittany has the opportunity to partner with public, private, and charter schools to research student mental health. She graduated with honors from Denver Seminary with her dual concentration Master of Arts in clinical mental health and school counseling, and she is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. Her work focuses on the biopsychosocial and faith aspects of child and young adult development and the various school and treatment systems they encounter throughout their lives.
 
Laura MillerLaura Miller is a certified Colorado music educator and passionate teacher who has taught a variety of subjects nationally and internationally in Oklahoma, Colorado, Thailand, and Jordan. Laura is now pursuing her masters with a dual concentration in clinical mental health and school counseling at Denver Seminary.
 
Rex MillerRex Miller launched MindShift, a faith-based research and coaching organization, in 2013. He is the author of Humanizing the Education Machine and WHOLE: What Teachers Need to Help Students Thrive, as well as the facilitator for the Christian education MindShift. Rex’s current vision is to help every student embrace and hold on to their God-given genius and help adults rediscover theirs. He recently released The Genius Spark and a free app to support this vision. Rex has received the CoreNet Global Innovator of the Year award, CoreNet’s Industry Excellent Award, IFMA’s Luminary Author’s award, and was named a Texas A&M Professional Fellow. He serves clients such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Disney, Amazon, GoDaddy, and the U.S. federal government. Rex recently moved to Glen Rose, Texas, and purchased River Rose, a ranch and leadership center.
 
Charlotte Marshal PowellCharlotte Marshall Powell is fueled by opportunities to connect people with research that makes a lasting impact. Knowing the usefulness of data in developing innovative solutions, Dr. Marshall Powell joined Barna in July 2021 as vice president of research. Prior to joining Barna, she served as a senior researcher at ACSI, and also served previously as a tenure track psychology professor and taught undergraduate and graduate psychology courses. She holds a B.A in psychology from Spelman College and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Delaware.
 
Elizabeth Meier ThorntonElizabeth Meier Thornton is an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary in the school and clinical counseling programs and is an adjunct professor at Denver University in the school counseling program. She works full-time as a middle school counselor at Peak to Peak Charter School, and has been a school counselor in public, private, and charter schools in the United States and globally, including one ACSI school. She is a licensed school counselor and licensed professional counselor in the state of Colorado and is a national certified counselor. A 2012 Denver Seminary graduate from the master’s in clinical and school counseling Program, she has worked with the School Counseling Mental Health Initiative (SCMHI) as a research associate, and is currently working toward a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from the University of the Cumberlands.
 
Brooke VolponeBrooke Volpone is pursuing her Masters of Arts degree in counseling, with a school counseling concentration. Brooke has worked with adolescents for much of her adult life and looks forward to continuing to empower and advocate for students as a school counselor, post-graduation.
 
Jon WidmierJon Widmier is an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary in the school counseling program. He also serves as the coordinator of social-emotional and behavioral services for Littleton Public Schools in Littleton, Colorado. A school counselor by trade, he has served districts by helping to develop danger assessment protocols and as a member of their crisis teams, as well as 504 management, individual career and academic plans, social-emotional learning, multitiered systems of support, and safety team leadership.
 
Dr. Adam WilsonDr. Adam Wilson is the chair of the school counseling program at Denver Seminary and the director of the School Counseling Mental Health Initiative (SCMHI), a research initiative seeking to better understand effective mental health interventions in schools. He is also a licensed professional counselor, working predominantly with children, adolescents, and their families. His clinical work focuses on areas such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression. Adam is the co-author of the chapter “The Neurobiology of Stress and Trauma” in the book Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling, edited by H. D. Gingrich and F. C. Gingrich (2017). Adam is a Colorado native and enjoys the outdoors, where he and his family love to play.
 
Betsy WinkleBetsy Winkle is a school psychologist who combines her passion for education and reconciliation in her role as director of education services at All Belong: A Center for Inclusive Education. Fueled by a desire to help each child flourish and develop their God-given gifts, Betsy enjoys walking alongside parents and teachers to help them understand how each struggling child thinks and learns, and creating structures within schools that support all students. She is particularly interested in the impact of life circumstances and mental health on a child’s educational success. Betsy received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Calvin College and her Master of Arts and educational specialist degrees in school psychology from Lehigh University.