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I am a big believer that God made each and every one of us—individuals and organizations—on purpose AND for a purpose. We are ALL God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Yet, we are all different—and different parts of the body of Christ (Romans 12:4–8)—as we lead and serve within different positions and different types of schools. When you combine those two pieces—that we are purposely and beautifully created to be together—God shows His presence and His impact in extraordinary ways. I have no doubt that our time together in Orlando will provide spaces for each of us to contribute our own experiences while learning and growing from the wisdom and experiences of others.

The theme of Converge 2025 is one that inspires and challenges. What does it look like to be faithfully present? How is God calling us to serve? Even more, what does courageously good mean or look like? I thought Dr. Lynn Swaner beautifully laid out this challenge to each of us in her recent blog.

This question can be an especially hard one to ask ourselves, especially amidst feeling exhausted or overwhelmed in the work, supporting our staff, students, and families as they navigate professional and personal adversities, and even the opportunities (and challenges) that come from the growing interest in Christian schools. I don’t know about you, but some weeks it feels like a challenge even to purposefully rest and Sabbath. I am thankful for reminders from God like the one in Matthew 11:28–29: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…. learn from me… and you will find rest for your souls.” We might not have everything done or perfectly together, but that’s ok. God has this (whatever “this” is)—and God has us. It is humbling to really step back and realize God knows all from yesterday, today, and tomorrow—and I can rest in Him being there for me through the good… and the bad.

The Power of AND

I have the privilege of leading a Christian school on Milwaukee’s south side, St. Augustine Preparatory Academy or Aug Prep as we call ourselves. Amidst just our seventh school year, today we serve more than 1,800 students—86 percent free or reduced price lunch and 99 percent students of color. They come to us from forty-three zip codes across Milwaukee (no bussing provided). And we do not screen our students. When we have 300 applications for 125 spots, there is a lottery. YET, behind every one of those numbers are students. Every single student has their own story AND every single one of them has limitless potential. Our job is to believe in our students and serve them with excellence—head, heart, and hands. God gives us the privilege and gift of unlocking the door to opportunity. Our students and families choose to walk through that door.

After more than fifteen years of working in education, I have too often run into Christian school leaders who say, “But we are teaching our students about Jesus—how they do on standardized tests or academically doesn’t matter (or doesn’t matter as much).” I want to challenge this. Our missional imperative is not an “or”—it is an AND. As leaders and educators, we are called by God to live and lead the AND. We best equip our students to flourish and shine His light by teaching them about Jesus AND serving them with excellence academically so they are equipped to go out into the world and shine His light. It is not rigorous academics or serving the whole child—it is rigorous academics AND serving the whole child. It is not academics or athletics and the arts. It is academics AND providing robust opportunities in athletics and the arts.

Best of all, we can integrate Jesus in every one of those areas (along with the many more areas I didn’t even mention). I imagine we all have Chapel and Bible classes in our schools. They are an important part of how we serve and equip our students. AND we can and should integrate Jesus into everything we do, every moment of every day. Jesus shines in our schools through how we treat each other as adults; how we navigate student culture, discipline, and restorative practices; how we as adults love and respect students; how we integrate Jesus and faith into our arts and athletics programming; and how we provide rigorous academics—hopefully with a Christian worldview—while also ensuring that every day, all of our students feel safe, known and loved. If we only equip our students academically, we completely miss the opportunity to instill hope (heavenly hope that extends far beyond this life). Yet, if we tell our students about Jesus and don’t equip them to flourish in life after they leave our schools, we are not living our calling to love the Lord our God with all of our minds, hearts, and souls. We are missing the opportunity to be His hands and feet AND to equip our students to be His hands and feet. As you think about being courageously good: How is your school living and shining Jesus in the AND?

But God.

Most people are surprised to hear that Aug Prep has more than 1,800 students after only 6 years (with plans for 2,200 next year). They are even more surprised to hear that we recently stepped into the opportunity to replicate our school and launch a second campus (opening fall 2026) on the grounds of a recently closed college. In the next 15 years, we have a vision to serve more than 4,000 students across Milwaukee.

Let’s take it a step further: Our heart and vision for our second campus is to leverage the location to build a diverse community—socioeconomically, racially, AND culturally. We seek to flip many communities’ current definition of “diverse”—not having a minority of low-income students or students of color but rather a minority of tuition-paying students, with more than 70 percent of our students utilizing the income-eligible vouchers in Wisconsin. Far too many people believe black and brown students or students that grow up in poverty can’t succeed and achieve at high levels. While taboo to say out loud, they worry about having their own children in an environment that includes the challenges of poverty and intergenerational trauma. But we know that given the opportunity and a community that believes in them, all students can soar. Intentional diversity makes all of us stronger. As the parent of two beautiful daughters at Aug Prep, I can tell you with confidence that my daughters are stronger BECAUSE they are surrounded by the beautiful, culturally diverse community, not in spite of it.

The journey is not easy—at our current campus or as we plan for a second campus. God has blessed us with an extraordinary team. But any one of us—and even the collective—cannot adequately live Aug Prep’s North Star “to instill hope by equipping our students to glorify God” or the reality of the demands of what we are seeking to build. But God.

But God can. What God has built at our current south side campus is extraordinary. In just six years, we have the #1 K–12 school in Milwaukee and the #2 K–12 school in the state. Our graduates (we have about 250 today and another 110 graduating this June) are entering and persisting in 2- and 4-year colleges at rates that exceed national averages, regardless of income. Our neighborhood has seen a 43 percent drop in crime since we opened our doors. We did not do that—God did. We have the privilege of being His hands and feet.

As I engage with leaders locally and nationally about the vision for our second campus, I often run into skepticism that tuition-paying parents won’t want to go to a school with more than 30 to 50 percent low-income students. Yet, to best equip all of our students (regardless of income or zip code) to flourish in the world we live in today, we deeply believe God has called us to that diversity. After a recent week with multiple of those discouraging conversations, I woke to a devotion on Isaiah 41:18b–20:

“I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground. I will plant trees in the barren desert—cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine. I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.”

Our students—past, present and future—are the different trees. God is our water. We cannot create this vision on our own, but God can. And I believe He will.

As you look forward into the next school year or years, what is your miracle “so that all who see will understand that it is the Lord who has done this”? How is God calling you and your school to live faithfully present AND courageously good

I cannot wait to see all God has in store for us—as individual parts of His body—and as the whole body of Christ.

Abby Andrietsch is chief executive officer at St. Augustine Preparatory Academy (“Aug Prep”;, a K4-12 Christian school on Milwaukee’s south side founded in 2017. Serving more than 1,800 students today, Aug Prep’s vision is to develop its students to be leaders of tomorrow known by their strength of character, courage, intellect, impactful contributions and their faith. Abby is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has an M.B.A and M.Ed. from Stanford University. She lives in the Milwaukee area with her husband Omar and two daughters, both of whom are proud Aug Prep Lions!

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