We are ready to be back together, and this year as we gather again, we hope it is a time of restoration. With a year of rapid defensive decision-making and so many urgent issues competing for our time and energy behind us, the time is now to step back and to restore the foundation of Christian identity in our schools.

Continuing the work of Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith, Timothy Keller, and others, we will work to understand the theological problems with secular cultural narratives that are speaking loudly to our students and their families about who they are, what their lives are for, and what a good life is. Then, we will consider how our roles can instead build a Gospel narrative for our communities.

This year at the Symposium, you will encounter a new format, designed to restore you as a leader- with time to connect with peers, your teams, and new friends, and to progress your understanding and application of these concepts- to LEAD your schools in strengthening your Christian foundation. We hope to RESTORE Biblical concepts of Identity, Freedom, Happiness, Power, and History.

What To Expect at the 2021 Symposium

The 2021 CESA Symposium will take place in Atlanta at The Omni at Battery Park on October 3rd -5th, 2021.  We will begin with optional school tours on Sunday, October 3rd from 1:00-4:30 pm, followed by our Opening Session, beginning at 5:30 pm at Mount Paran Christian School.  The remainder of the Symposium will take place at The Omni at Battery Park and conclude at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, October 5th.

This year at the Symposium we will seek to RESTORE the definitions of identity, happiness, freedom, power, and history that have been distorted in secular culture. We will be embarking on a journey marked by the acronym LEAD, as we have built this event to encourage us to lead our schools boldly, building on the strength of our Christian foundation.

These sessions will bring the ontology of being to the phenomenology of schooling and the practices in our schools.

How can we confront the secular narrative of IDENTITY that tells our students that the truth is defined by what is within us, by our feelings?

Christopher Witt

Senior Director

WinShape Camps

How does the secular construct of FREEDOM– that I can live however I want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone- make the freedom found in the Gospel impossible?

Dr. Michael Keller

Redeemer Lincoln Square

Dr. Karen A. Lee

Wheaton College

Why are our families as miserable as ever, especially those who believe the narrative that in the end, HAPPINESS is about doing what makes us happy and not sacrificing it for anyone?

Dr. Michael Keller

Redeemer Lincoln Square

Dr. Aaron Howard

Assistant Professor of Ethics, Reconciliation & Worship at Lipscomb University

How can we rebuke the secular notions of POWER and HISTORY– that all culture is about who has power, and history is moving toward forces of freedom and away from forces of oppression- and reclaim the Biblical models of power and history?

There should be no part of our schools that is untouched by these narratives, and together, we can build coherence in our schools that answers the big questions with Gospel truth.

Rather than a menu of topical breakout sessions, we will be led in small-group discussions about how each of the constructs relates to our professional roles and work together to find ways to break down the secular narratives and build up a true Gospel identity through the work we do in our schools. There will be learning cohorts for:

  • Heads of School
  • Division Principals
  • Admissions and Marketing
  • Development
  • Christian Life, Student Life, and DEI
  • Business and Operations

We recognize that time spent with our teams off-campus is invaluable.  And we know how hard it is to find the time to digest, reflect, and respond once you get back to the day-to-day of our jobs.  Therefore, each day, you will have time to reconnect with your teams to ensure you are sharing each other’s experiences, excitement, and engagement at the Symposium. We think that taking time to dialogue with your team at the Symposium is the first team in galvanizing your learning and another step in galvanizing your team.

We have added a further step to extend the sharpening of one another throughout the year. We want you to DO. In 2020-21, The CESA Collective provided a platform for over 1000 people to connect with content and colleagues throughout the 2020-21 year. Thousands of hours of Short Courses were viewed and over 100 live group discussions were hosted. We want to use what we have learned with The CESA Collective to extend the opportunity to regularly connect with your colleagues to DO this work throughout the 21-22 school year. So, be sure to get your school registered for the CAMPUS PASS for the 21-22 CESA Collective, where you will find resources to continue the learning with your cohort. While The Collective will not look exactly the same, there will be opportunities to learn and do with your cohort AND with your teams on your campus.


Optional CESA School tours begin at 1:00 pm on Sunday, October 3rd and the Symposium ends at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, October 5th.  Please make every effort to ensure your flights from ATL (about 40 minutes from The Omni) allow you to engage in the entirety of the Symposium.

1:00-4:30 p.m.  – Optional Atlanta- area school tours. Schools are open for visits during these hours (See a map of schools in the “where” tab)

5:30 p.m. – Registration, Dinner, and Opening Session (Identity) at Mount Paran Christian School (if you are not renting a car and not participating in school tours, a bus will be available for transportation to and from Mount Paran).

8:30-9:45 a.m. – Cohort Session 1: Identity

9:45-10:15 a.m. – REresh Break

10:15-11:45 a.m. – Plenary Session 2: Freedom

11:45-12:45 a.m. – LUNCH

12:45-2:00 p.m. – Cohort Session 2: Freedom

2:00-2:30 pm – REfresh

2:30-4:00 p.m. – Plenary Session 3: Happiness

4:00 -5:30 p.m. – Hosted Affinity Group Receptions

Dinner on with your teams at The Battery and beyond (We recommend you make reservations)

8:30-9:45 a.m. – Cohort Session 3: Happiness

9:45-10:30 a.m. – Meet with School Groups

10:30-11:00 a.m. – REfresh

11:00 a.m. – Plenary Session 4: Power and History and Closing session

12:30 p.m. – Member of Council Lunch and Annual Board Meeting

We highly recommend registering your school for the 2021-22 CESA Collective alongside the Symposium to continue the conversation and learning all year long. Both registrations can be found here. 

Optional School Tours

Atlanta-area CESA Schools will be opening their doors for tours from 1:00-4:30 pm on Sunday, October 3rd

Due to the proximity of schools to one another (and Atlanta traffic!), we have grouped schools together. For those who are not renting cars, buses will transport you roundtrip from The Omni, to the schools, and back after Opening Session at Mount Paran.

Transportation via bus will be available OR if you are renting a car, feel free to visit any of the schools in any order.  If you need transportation, we ask that you register for the tours you would like leading up to the Symposium.  You will receive an email with logistics prior to the Symposium.

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