Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


We are often told “keep the faith” or “have faith” but rarely are we told what that means. Psychologist and educational philosopher Sharon Daloz Parks states that faith is the way we make meaning from our life’s experiences: faith results when “human beings… compose a sense of the ultimate reality and then stake [their] lives on that sense of things” (Parks, 2000, p. 20). Faith is both a dynamic force as well as a stabilizing and grounding entity; it organizes how the world is perceived, acted upon, and interpreted; faith is not synonymous with religion, belief, or spirituality. Obviously something keeps us together – how else would we persevere in our life’s work? While faith is not synonymous with a religion or church, many find a religious faith tradition meaningful and sustaining in their vocation as school leaders. Successful school leaders are those who maintain their personal faith as private individuals while recognizing the religious neutrality that is appropriate for their role in the school’s public setting. This brief article sketches salient points of the history and present dynamics of Church and state interaction played out in public schools.