Educators and students everywhere eagerly anticipate the moment when the finish line of summer break appears on the horizon. This is even more the case in 2021, as we close out the most challenging school year in recent memory. As we look toward the summer months and the possibility of some rest (even if short in duration, especially for school leaders who work year-round), we’ve chosen a timely and critically important subject as our organizing theme for the spring edition of Research in Brief: the well-being of the school community.

We encourage you to download and peruse the full issue. Here are some highlights:

  1. Recent Research in Christian SchoolsCOVID and Well-Being. What ACSI schools were able to pull off last fall was nothing short of miraculous. As we summarize in “Health and Well-Being During COVID,” following the guidance of medical experts, over 80% of ACSI schools safely reopened primarily or exclusively with in-person instruction. Still, the consequences of the coronavirus weighed heavily in the minds of school leaders. Principal respondents expressed higher levels of concern for the well-being of faculty, staff, and students than they did for themselves.
  2. Flourishing as a Leader. School leaders are best positioned to promote well-being in their schools when they themselves are flourishing, as Lynn Swaner, Cindy Dodds, and I write in “Leadership for Well-Being.” Leaders must first embody well-being (leader-specific constructs) before they are able to promote it among their teachers and staff members (leader-directed constructs) or build a culture of well-being for their schools (leader-shaped constructs). (Check out the full report on flourishing and leadership here.)
  3. Sabbath Practices. Perhaps one way in which they can do this is through the spiritual discipline of keeping the Sabbath, a topic I explore with Rian Djita and Albert Cheng in “Sabbath Practices and Wellness in Christian Schools.” Over 7,000 individuals responded to ACSI’s Sabbath Study, a survey fielded in January and February this year. Respondents who reported that they keep the Sabbath expressed significantly lower levels of burnout (that is, prolonged physical and psychological exhaustion) than those who stated that they do not keep the Sabbath. The findings of this research suggest that taking intentional time to rest could make a big difference for the well-being of school leaders and other members of the school community.

In addition to this section on well-being, the spring issue includes a review by Cardus Senior Fellow Albert Cheng of his report The Protestant Family Ethic, a research project with the American Enterprise Institute and Institute for Family Studies. He and his coauthors find that students who attended Protestant schools are significantly more likely to be found in an intact marriage in adulthood, and significantly less likely to ever have been divorced or to have a child out of wedlock, relative to their peers who graduated from public, Catholic, or secular private schools.

Finally, a special section on women’s leadership in Christian education includes a study of female heads of accredited Christian K–12 schools, that examines both barriers that impede women’s progress toward HOS roles as well as catalysts for breaking through the “stained-glass ceiling.” Data on the prevalence of female leaders in Christian education from ACSI’s nationwide study of Christian schools is also shared in a second article, along with a great new resource—the Women’s Leaders for Christian Education blog—that’s created space for women to share their voice and their insights on Christian education.

I’m excited to join the ACSI family as Director of Research and grateful for the warm reception of my new colleagues. Part of my responsibilities will be to take over as managing editor of Research in Brief, which has really flourished under the capable leadership of Lynn Swaner. If you ever have any thoughts or feedback on Research in Brief, feel free to contact me at


About the Author

Matthew Lee - ACSI AuthroMatthew H. Lee is director of Research at ACSI. He can be reached via email at and followed on Twitter @hmatthewlee.

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