Edifying the Christian School Movement

The Need For CESA

The need for high-quality Christian schools is compelling. Enabling students to learn within the framework of a Christian belief system is a necessity for families who value such a distinct and valuable education. Therefore, providing a distinctive education to students has been and must remain a characteristic of Christian schools. Dr. Charles Glenn of Boston University suggests faith-based schools that are clear about what they stand for are successful because they have a clear vision for education. This vision includes a focus upon Christ and the virtues that pervade all activities within the Christian school. Likewise, this vision includes an understanding that all that is done within the Christian school is done with excellence, as if unto Christ.

As a result, Christian schools must be institutions of academic excellence. The reason for a Christian school’s existence is to be a school, a place of academic learning. Therefore, Christian schools must be institutions that seek excellence, providing the rigor and support necessary for students to thrive and the programs required to enable students to engage with and impact culture and society.

However, there has been a real tension between the values of academic rigor and discipleship. In many circumstances, Christian parents have been forced to choose between high academic standards in public or non-sectarian independent schools and their local Christian school’s desire to nurture the faith of the child, but not the intellect. Too often a commitment to discipleship and a commitment to academic excellence have stood in opposition to one another.

The Council on Educational Standards and Accountability insists that academic rigor and programmatic excellence in all areas are inherent to discipleship, not contradictory. As a result, CESA schools demand quality, commitment, rigor, and excellence in every facet of the school. CESA therefore works in conjunction with schools to enable growth, provide resources for improvement, and to hold accountable all schools who strive for programmatic distinction and excellence, for the glory of God.

Dr. Katie Wiens

Dr. Katie Wiens


Katie has an intimate history and knowledge of CESA. She played a role in its founding, and served as its original Director of Academic Advancement. In that position, Katie co-wrote the original CESA standards and helped develop the initial institutional review process. She also played a major role in organizing the early CESA symposia and heads retreats.

Through her work at Cardus, Katie wrote the Christian Education Survey, the famous “Cardus Study” that was part of the impetus for the creation of CESA. Katie has served on the faculties of Wheaton College, Boston University, Cairn University, and Kennesaw State University. She also served as Fellow and Scholar with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, working with Ashley Berner and James Davison Hunter on a 5-year study investigating moral formation in different school sectors. A portion of that work has recently been published in The Content of Their Character: Inquiries into the Varieties of Moral Formation (Hunter, J.D. and Olson, R. Eds. 2017).

Katie also has extensive experience in K-12 Christian schooling, having served as an administrator and faculty member at Boston Trinity Academy, The Clapham School, and Delaware County Christian School. She has her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of St. Thomas, and her doctorate from Boston University.

James C. Marsh, Jr.

James C. Marsh, Jr.


James C. Marsh, Jr. served as Head of School at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, Missouri for twenty-eight years before stepping down in July 2013. Jim currently serves as the Director of Reviews and Recruitment for the Council of Educational Standards and Accountability. He is a product of Christian elementary and secondary schools in northeastern New Jersey, and graduated in 1969 with a B.A. in Education from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, in 1979. Jim has served as Board President of Christian Schools International (Grand Rapids, Michigan), member of the Board of Directors of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (Chicago, Illinois), Board member and president of the Independent Schools of St. Louis, and member of the faculty of the Van Lunen Center. He is a contributing author of the book Schools as Communities (James L. Drexler, Editor).

Board of Directors

  • Jay Ferguson
    Jay Ferguson

    Jay Ferguson serves as chair of the Board of Directors for CESA and is the Headmaster of Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas. He was a practicing attorney in Dallas and Tyler for ten years where he was named Smith County Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year in 2003. Jay joined Grace Community School in 2002 as its Director of Development and in 2003 assumed the role of Headmaster. He currently serves on boards of the Texas Private School Association, and the Executive Board of the Association of Christian Schools International. He is an adjunct professor in the educational leadership masters program at Covenant College and Vanderbilt University. Jay holds a Bachelors’ Degree from Baylor University, a Juris Doctor from Texas Tech University School of Law, and a Masters’ Degree from Covenant College. He is currently working on his PhD in leadership studies from Dallas Baptist University. He is married to his wife, Ashley, and together they have three daughters.

  • Barry Giller
    Barry Giller

    Barry Giller serves as the vice chair of the Board of Directors for CESA. Barry joined the faculty of Charlotte Christian as Head of School in June 2010 and ushered the school into its 60th anniversary. As head of school Mr. Giller oversees the college preparatory school’s 180 employees and 1055 students grades JK to 12. A 1994 graduate of Wheaton College, he received his Bachelor of Arts in history/social science and a certification for secondary education. He also holds a master’s degree in educational leadership in Nova Southeastern University. Mr. Giller currently resides on the board of directors for North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association and Teaching Fellows Institute. Mr. Giller served six years as headmaster at Christian Heritage School, a private K-12 interdenominational Christian college preparatory school, in Trumbull, Conn. He joined Christian Heritage in 2001 as the upper school principal and was promoted to the headmaster position in 2004. Barry and his wife, Lisa, have seven children and are active members of Church at Charlotte.

  • Tom Konjoyan
    Tom Konjoyan

    Tom Konjoyan serves as the treasurer of the Board of Directors for CESA and is the Head of School at Village Christian Schools, a K-12 private Blue Ribbon School in Los Angeles, CA. He has served in this role since 2010. Previously, he served for 11 years as the Founding Associate Head of School at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village. Additionally, he has worked at World Vision as director of corporate, foundation and major donors in the Pacific Northwest, and before that started a non-profit job-training and residential services program, “Proyecto Esperanza,” for homeless, Hispanic teenagers in Los Angeles’ inner city. He graduated from Harvard University with honors and a degree in sociology. He was a two sport athlete at Harvard winning an Ivy League Championship in Football and leading the Baseball team as its captain. He also earned an MBA from Pepperdine University’s Presidential and Key Executive Program. He and his wife, Kelly, have three children, Kyler, Mackenzie, and Delaney. They currently reside in Shadow Hills, CA.. Konjoyan coaches youth lacrosse and football. He also enjoys surfing, triathlons, and golf.

  • Gary B. Arnold
    Gary B. Arnold

    Gary B. Arnold is the Head of School at Little Rock Christian Academy. Gary has served as a head of school for thirty years in independent Christian schooling in Massachusetts, Illinois and Arkansas. Arnold is a strong advocate for private school interests as the Vice President of C.A.P.E. (board) and President of ANSAA (AR Nonpublic School Accediting Association), and the National Coordinator for the thirty-three state affiliates of CAPE – the Council on American Private Education. His previous experience as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council for Religious and Independent Schools and the Illinois Coalition of Non-Public Schools adds to his understanding of the purposes of CESA. A graduate of Wheaton College (B.A. summa) and Wheaton Graduate School (M.A. summa), Gary completed his doctorate in educational leadership from National-Louis University in Evanston, Illinois. Arnold currently serves as head of school at Little Rock Christian Academy, an independent, Christian, college-preparatory school. Gary and his wife, Karen, reside in Little Rock, Arkansas.

  • Randy Brunk
    Randy Brunk

    Randy Brunk is the Head of School at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy where he has served since 2003. He previously served on the ISACS Equity Committee and as President of the Illinois Coalition of Non-public Schools, Superintendent of Peoria Christian School and Assistant Superintendent of Fredericksburg Christian School. Randy holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Colorado State University and a Master’s Degree from Regent University. He is married to wife Nancy and together they have three adult children.

  • Steve O’Neil
    Steve O’Neil

    Steve O’Neil serves as head of school at Vail Christian High School and previously served as head of school at Westminster Schools of Augusta and Haven of Peace Academy (Tanzania). In East Africa, he led a large international Christian college-preparatory school with a student body representing over 30 nationalities. Before that he served as director of curriculum (PK-12) and later as upper school principal at Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis). He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Wheaton College, where he also met his college sweetheart and future wife, Denae. He received his master’s degree in school administration from the University of Colorado. Steve began his teaching career in Denver working at both Denver Academy and Regis Jesuit High School. He is passionate about strengthening Christian schools in the United States and abroad, especially on the African continent.

  • Curt Masters
    Curt Masters

    Curt Masters is the Head of School at Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, TN. In the Spring of 2000, Curt Masters became headmaster at Brentwood Academy. Mr. Masters was mainly raised in Indonesia with his missionary parents. He attended Wheaton College, where he met his wife, Cindy, who also grew up on the mission field, and there he earned a bachelor of arts in psychology. Later, he earned a master of education in administration from the University of Puget Sound and a Ph.D. (ABD) in educational leadership from the University of Miami. Before coming to Brentwood Academy, Mr. Masters was headmaster and upper school principal of Dade Christian School in Miami, Florida; the dean of students at The Stoney Brook School, Stony Brook, New York; and assistant principal at Life Christian School in Tacoma, Washington. Read more about Curt’s childhood and his family’s experience as missionaries to tribes in the remote interior of Dutch New Guinea by clicking here.

  • Bill McGee
    Bill McGee

    Bill McGee is in his third year as head of school for Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco, TX. He joined the Legacy community after completing eight years as head of school at Hill Country Christian School of Austin, Texas. He has 38 years of experience as a classroom teacher, coach, and administrator, including 28 years as head of four independent schools in Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee and ten years as a teacher, coach, and principal in the Texas public school system.

    Bill earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He is active in the field of education, having served on the Executive Board of the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools (SAES) and the Academy Activities Commission of the Mississippi Private School Association (MPSA). He also served as president of the Memphis Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), president of the Jackson Area Association of Independent Schools (JAAIS), and was the founding president of the East Texas Heads of Schools (ETHOS). He most recently completed a term as president of the Board of Directors of the Texas Private Schools Association (TPSA). He is currently serving on the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA). In 2010, Bill received the “Paideia Leadership as Head-of -School Award,” an honor bestowed upon him by his peers for outstanding service in Christian schools. He has presented at numerous educational workshops and conferences and has served as a consultant to schools in the areas of board development, strategic planning, capital campaigns, and institutional needs assessments.

    Bill and his wife, Janna, have been married for 39 years and are the proud parents of two grown sons, ages 33 and 31, and the proud grandparents of two-year-old Grant. In his spare time, Bill enjoys reading, golfing, snow skiing, and attending Major League Baseball and college football games with his two sons.

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