Gordon’s graduation leadership program offers unparalleled access to nationally recognized leaders. Previous and current instructors have included the following individuals, who bring a wide range of experience from diverse backgrounds to illuminate the learning experience for students.
Fred Banke, Ed.S.
After completing 15 years in administration in the Resort Hotel & Spa Industry in Florida, the Lord called Fred into a different field. For the past 24 years he has been serving in Christian education, with the last 13 years as Headmaster at Community Christian in Stockbridge, Georgia. Previously he served as Middle School Principal at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy and Assistant Middle School Principal at Charlotte Christian. Prior to that, Fred served as a teacher, college counselor and financial aid coordinator at Dade Christian School in Miami. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Trinity International University (Miami).
Fred holds an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Florida Atlantic University, and a Master of Science degree in Physical Education, majoring in exercise physiology, from Florida International University.
Fred and his wife, Dr. Susan Banke, have two grown children, and enjoy spending time with their five grandchildren.
Ron Farrar, Ed.D.
Upper School Principal
Dr. Ron Farrar currently serves as the upper school principal at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Prior to Westminster, he served as middle school principal at Whitefield Academy, a Christ-centered, college preparatory school, in Smyrna, Georgia. He also served as a teacher, coach, and administrator in the Massachusetts public school system. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education and history from Fitchburg State University and received his master’s degree in education from Cambridge College. Dr. Farrar has a biblical studies degree from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Leadership, both from Cambridge College. He also taught graduate courses at the university level. Dr. Farrar is married to Cheryl, and they have four daughters—Emma (19), Abigail (16), Ellie (15), and Annabel (13).
Jay Ferguson, J.D.
Grace Community School
Jay Ferguson is the headmaster of Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas, where has served in that position since June 2003. Grace Community School is the largest private school in East Texas, serving just under 1000 students in grades kindergarten through 12th. Grace’s mission is to assist Christian parents in educating, equipping, and encouraging their children to influence the world for Christ, or as they condense it, to “teach Jesus.”
Jay attended Highland Park High School in Dallas, Baylor University, and Texas Tech School of Law. He was a practicing attorney in Dallas and Tyler for ten years before joining Grace Community School in 2002 as its Director of Development. After the departure of the school’s long-time headmaster in summer 2003, Jay became interim headmaster. He assumed the full-time headmaster role in fall 2003. Since that time, Jay has worked to develop a “whole ministry” approach for Grace Community School through a unified relationship between the Upper and Lower Campuses, and a strengthened bond between church and school.
Jay has written extensively on Christian education and training up children in the Lord, and counsels parents on child-raising issues daily. He has authored “A Bowed Head and a Humble Heart: The Head of School's Pastoral Role”, in Building a Better School, published by Paideia Press, as well as several journal articles. He writes a weekly blog on spiritual, education and parenting issues called The Head and the Heart. He is an adjunct professor at Covenant College in Georgia, at Vanderbilt University, and at Gordon College in Massachusetts.
Jay is the recipient of the W.C. Windsor Award for outstanding service in the Tyler community. He was named Smith County Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year. He currently serves on boards of organizations operating at the local, state, national, and international level, including the East Texas Communities Foundation, Texas Private School Association, the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability, and the executive board of the Association of Christian Schools International. He has a heart for mentoring groups of young men and couples.
Jay holds a Bachelors’ Degree from Baylor University, a Juris Doctor from Texas Tech University School of Law, and a Masters’ Degree in Educational Leadership from Covenant College. He is currently a PhD candidate in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University. He and his wife, Ashley, are members of Grace Community Church, and have served over 20 years in small group and children’s ministries. He serves as an elder of Grace Community. He and Ashley have three teenage daughters, Emma, Annie, and Ellen. He has taught them to love Jesus and football, in that order, which he considers his gift to future sons-in-law, Lord willing.
Barry Giller, M.S.
Head of School
Charlotte Christian School
Barry is the Head of School at Charlotte Christian School in North Carolina. He is a 1994 graduate of Wheaton College, where 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. He is an adjunct professor for Gordon College and a faculty member of the Van Lunen Center which provides executive leadership training for Christian school leaders. Barry currently resides on the board of directors for the Council of Educational Standards and Accountability and the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association.
Barry previously 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. He was a member of the first Van Lunen Fellows cohort in 2007. In addition to his 25 years of work as a Christian education administrator, he has a strong background in development, athletics and teaching. Prior to his appointment at Christian Heritage, he also served at Dade Christian School in Miami, Fla. and Stony Brook School in Stony Brook, N.Y. He has previously served as a principal, assistant principal, athletic director, teacher, coach, and dorm parent.
Chris Harmon, Ed.D.
Savannah Christian Preparatory School
Dr. Harmon began his education career as a counselor in an all boys’ behavior rehabilitation facility. After serving several years in this capacity, Dr. Harmon was hired as a counselor at an independent Christian school in South Florida. During his tenure, Dr. Harmon was instrumental in developing a new upper school program, ultimately becoming the school’s first upper school principal. Since that time, Dr. Harmon has been the headmaster of schools in Florida, Texas, and Georgia for the past nineteen years. Dr. Harmon is a VanLunen Fellow and a Vanderbilt Peabody Summer Fellow. He has been the Next Generation Chair for Rotary International and sits on the local board for Horizons Savannah. Dr. Harmon earned his Doctor of Education from George Fox University.
Scott Harsh, Ed.D.
Greater Atlanta Christian School
Scott assumed the role of President of Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC) in summer 2018 becoming the third president in the school’s 50+ year history. He has served at GAC for 24 years in various roles and responsibilities including Academic Vice President, High School Principal, High School Dean of Students, Middle School Assistant Principal as well as math teacher and coach of various sports. During his tenure at GAC Scott has also served in leadership roles including GAC’s early adoption of a digital learning environment, domestic and international mission trips and learning excursions.
Scott received his Bachelors in Mathematics from Harding University, a Master of Education from the University of Georgia, an Educational Specialist degree from Georgia State University and his Doctor of Education from Abilene Christian University. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Atlanta Christian School Association (ACSA) and Vice President of the Board of the National Christian School Association (NCSA). Scott and his wife Teresa have three children who are all deeply engaged in the GAC community and school life.
Head of School, Veritas School, Richmond, VA
Keith Nix has served as the Head of School at Veritas since 2010. Keith serves as the Vice Chairman of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) and President of the Board of Academic Advisors for the Classic Learning Initiatives, and was the prior Chairman of the Society for Classical Learning. He frequently consults with classical Christian school boards and leaders. Currently he leads a cohort coaching program with over 60 classical school heads. Prior to moving to Veritas in 2010, Keith was a board member, and then later Head of School at The Westminster School in Birmingham, Alabama from 2004 - 2010. He is a founding Arête Fellow, directing the Arête Fellows program for almost a decade. Prior to working in classical Christian schools, Keith was Founder and President of a boutique consulting firm working with start-up and early stage organizations and businesses. Outside of work Keith plays competitive tennis, wants to improve at golf, loves to read and travel with his wife. He is married to Kim, an accomplished artist and real estate professional; the Nixes have three grown children and two grandchildren.
Dr. Christopher Perrin, Ph.D.
Christopher Perrin is an author, consultant, and speaker who specializes in classical education. He is committed to the renewal of the liberal arts tradition. He cofounded and serves full-time as the CEO/publisher at Classical Academic Press, a classical education curriculum, media, and consulting company. Christopher is also a consultant to charter, public, private, and Christian schools across the country. He is the director at the Alcuin Fellowship with the Institute for Classical Schools and the former board vice president of the Society for Classical Learning. He has published numerous articles and lectures that are widely used throughout the United States and the English-speaking world.
Christopher received his BA in history from the University of South Carolina and his MDiv and PhD in apologetics from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was also a special student in literature at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He has taught at Messiah College and Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as the founding headmaster of a classical school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for ten years. He is the author of The Greek Alphabet Code Cracker and Greek for Children and the coauthor of the Latin for Children series, all published by Classical Academic Press.
Dante Rutstrom, Ph.D.
Dante is a native of Beverly, Massachusetts. He completed studies at Gordon College where he earned a B.A. in Chemistry. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Analytical Chemistry from Tufts University.
Dante recently retired from Eastman Chemical Company where he held various positions including assignments in Research, Development, Technical Service, Business Management, and Regional Management. Dante and his wife Melanie have also had two international assignments in Singapore and China. He has significant leadership experience having held numerous executive level roles. Previous roles included; Vice President Advanced Materials Technology, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific Region, Vice President and General Manager for the Specialty Plastics Business Segment. In this role, he was responsible for leading the development and commercialization of Tritan™ co-polyester. He also served as a mentor for many of Eastman’s leaders. Prior to joining Eastman, Dante worked briefly at Bethlehem Steel Company as an analytical chemist.
Dante and Melanie, currently reside in Kingsport, Tennessee. They have 3 children, Stephanie, Kristen, and Daniel. They also have three grandchildren (Aubrey, Naomi and Moyiz). He is an active member of his church and has led youth groups on annual mission trips. He enjoys hiking, playing guitar, and cooking. Dante is currently serving on the Board for the Good Shepherd Orphanage in Carrefour Haiti. He also serves as a consultant to the chemical industry.
Dante and Melanie are currently attending Christ Fellowship Church in Kingsport, TN where they serve as deacons and lead a small group in their home.
John Skillen, Ph.D.
Lecturer and Program coordinator, Classical Schools track in the Graduate Leadership program
Dr. John Skillen is recently retired after a long tenure at his undergraduate alma mater, Gordon College. After earning his Ph.D. in Literature at Duke University, he served for fifteen years as the medieval and Renaissance literature specialist in Gordon’s English department. Skillen then served for a decade as the founding director of the College’s arts-oriented semester program in Orvieto (Italy), and continues to direct the Orvieto-based Studio for Art, Faith & History. Through its program of seminars, conferences, and projects in the visual arts and theater, the Studioadapts the practices and disciplines, and the media and genres, of the rich pre-modern heritage of classical Christian culture to 21st century faith, schooling, and community life. Not surprisingly, John has found himself increasingly in collaboration with the classical-Christian schooling movement.
Skillen’s recent book, Making School Beautiful: Restoring the Harmony of Place (Classical Academic Press, 2020), argues that the classical liberal arts of language and thought, and of the mathematical arts, provide still-timely principles of architectural design, from classroom to campus. His earlier book, Putting Art (Back) in its Place (Hendrickson, 2016), explores the new timeliness of art designed for community-and-site-specific places. His essays on the arts and tradition have appeared in IMAGE journal, the FORMA journal of the CiRCE Institute, the journal of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), and ARTS, the journal of the Arts, Religion and Culture society (forthcoming). He is a contributor to the Visual Commentary on Scripture and the Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (forthcoming).
John’s wife Susan is an ordained Anglican priest and spiritual director. Now empty nesters, the Skillens have raised four daughters in a small 1815 half-house in historic Newburyport, MA.
Justin Smith, Ed.D.
Head of Upper School/Vice President
Little Rock Christian Academy
Justin Smith serves as the Head of Upper School | Vice President of Little Rock Christian Academy, a leading Christian independent Pre-K3 to 12th-grade school of over 1,400 students and 250 faculty in Central Arkansas. Justin also serves as a trustee on the board of an all-boys boarding school in Philadelphia. Committed to Christian education, Justin has contributed to think tanks, such as MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education, and serves on the CESA Annual Symposium steering committee.
A native Californian, Justin holds a Bachelors’ Degree from the University of San Diego, a Masters’ Degree in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate of Education from Sam Houston State University.
Justin, his wife Amanda, and their two children, Gracie and Raleigh, live in West Little Rock, attend Fellowship Bible Church.
Kathryn Teston, Ed.D.
Head of School
Fellowship Christian School
Dr. Kathryn Teston, a native Texan, spent her high school years in London, England where she also met Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. She received her BA from Florida Bible College in Biblical Education and Theology. Her MEd in Educational Leadership and EdD in Curriculum and Instruction were both earned at Liberty University. Dr. Teston began her teaching career in Maryland, followed by teaching assignments in Virginia, Florida and Michigan. She and her husband were missionary teachers in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific for two years where they greeted the birth of their first daughter. The Testons also have two other married children and nine grandchildren. Dr. Teston taught a variety of subjects, fifth grade through high school, and served as an administrator for nineteen years. Currently, she is the Head of School at Fellowship Christian School in Roswell, GA. FCS is a PK-12th grade school with 930 students currently.
David W. Tilley, Ed.D.
Lecturer and Former Director
Graduate Leadership Program at Gordon College
Prior to moving to where Dr. David Tilley refers to as home, East Tennessee, he lived in New Mexico, Idaho, and Kansas as the son of a minister. He graduated in 1967 from East Ridge High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee and went on to receive his dual degree in political science and education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).
Upon graduating from UTC in 1971, Dr. Tilley took positions with the Cobb County School District as a middle school teacher and also with Mount Paran Church of God as minister of youth. He went on to receive his M.Ed. in Educational Administration in 1975 from Georgia State University. He was a member of the first Board of Directors when the MPCS opened its doors in 1976. Dr. Tilley served Cobb County as a principal and central office administrator in both Personnel and Local Administration.
In 1982, Dr. Tilley started Straight, Inc., a drug rehabilitation program for adolescents in Marietta, GA. In 1984, he assumed the role of headmaster of Mount Paran Christian School (MPCS) and led its move to the "new” campus from Buckhead to East Marietta. After initiating the high school program at MPCS, he accepted the position of Vice President for Student Life at Lee University located in Cleveland, TN. While there, he received his doctorate in Leadership Studies from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1995. After 14 years at Lee University, Dr. Tilley accepted a position as Vice President for Student Life located in Houghton College, Houghton, NY. Dr. Tilley returned to Mount Paran Christian School as headmaster in 2004 and retired from that position in 2018.
Dr. Tilley is the recent past Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA), current member of the Feed My Lambs Board of Directors, and an adjunct faculty member at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA., and Gordon College, Wenham, MA.
Dr. Tilley is married to Angie, and they have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
Kathryn Wiens, Ed.D.
Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA)
Katie is currently the Executive Director of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA). She played a role in its founding and served as its original Director of Academic Advancement.
Katie has a passion for high-quality Christian schooling, a passion that has given her opportunities to engage in both research and practice. Through her work at Cardus, Katie wrote the Christian Education Survey. She 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 bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of St. Thomas, and her doctorate from Boston University.
Timothy P. Wiens, Ed.D.
Mount Paran Christian School
Tim Wiens serves as the headmaster at Mount Paran Christian school. Previously, he served as the head of school at Delaware County Christian School. He is also the Co-chair of the ADVIS/Penn Summer Leadership Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Educations and Co-chair of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Professional Institute for Independent School Leadership. Likewise, he teaches within Peabody College’s Master of Arts degree program in Independent School Leadership. Tim is the co-founder and served as the Executive Director of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA) from 2009-2015, was an assistant professor and visiting scholar at Wheaton College and has served as headmaster and in other administrative and faculty positions in both independent and public school settings throughout his 24-year career.
Tim is married to Dr. Kathryn Wiens, an educator and author of numerous articles, books, and studies on education. They have one son, Eliot, who attends Delaware County Christian School, and they are the dog-parents of Greta, their Great Dane.
Susan Banke, Ph.D.
Graduate Leadership Program at Gordon College
Susan has been involved in education for her entire career, recently joining the Gordon Leadership Program as its Director of Graduate Leadership. Prior to accepting this position, she taught and continues to teach in the Graduate Leadership Program in courses such as Personnel and Strategic Planning and Liberal Arts Approach in Leadership.
Serving in Christian schools for over 35 years in Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia, Susan has been a teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, and upper school principal. In 2013 she became a certified executive leadership coach and founded CoachED, a consulting firm that supports independent schools and school leaders.
During that same year, she stepped down as Upper School Principal at Whitefield Academy in Georgia to begin teaching Educational Leadership at Kennesaw State University. Her role included overseeing the coaching endorsement program and professional learning, with a focused effort dealing with independent and charter school educators.
Susan received her Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education from Baptist Bible College and earned her Master of Science and Ph.D in Educational Leadership from Barry University.
She serves as an accreditation chairperson with SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools) and as a CESA (Council on Educational Standards and Accountability) school audit team member. Susan also serves on the board at Mount Paran Christian School, and an advisory board member Cheer Division for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). She is a past board member for Academic Opportunities in America and World Children’s Center.
Susan and her husband Fred (also a Gordon College instructor) have two adult children and five grandchildren.
Michelle Roberts joined the Gordon staff at the same time Dr. Susan Banke took over the role of Director. A graduate of Auburn University (BS in Fashion Merchandising) and Georgia State University (BA in English), Michelle has worked in both public and private Christian schools as a high school English teacher, administrative support staff member, and most recently, the lower and middle school registrar at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. She works remotely for Gordon from Marietta, a northwest suburb of Atlanta.