Arne Nielsen • Martha Ban • Gordon Bietz • Stephen Bralley • Desiree Bryant • Sandra Esteves • Marc Grundy • Leisa Morton-Standish • Evelyn Sullivan

Transforming Lives for Time and Eternity

North American Division

The North American Division Office of Education (NADOE) in Columbia, Maryland, U.S.A., encompasses nine unions across the United States of America, Canada, Bermuda, and the islands of the Guam-Micronesian Mission. Our division holds the honor of being the birthplace of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863. The graphic below displays the most current data regarding the schools across our division. Through the curriculum, professional development, and technology resources, we equip our teachers at all levels to impact learning and help our students grow to love and embrace Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Curricula: Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12

Adventist education provides a strong foundation for students academically, spiritually, physically, and socially. However, what matters is to lead children to the feet of Jesus. The transformational framework of the Encounter Bible curriculum (Grades 1-12) positively affects students’ lives and brings them into a saving relationship with Jesus. Here is a glimpse of the impact that Encounter Bible is having on the hearts of our students and teachers:

Student’s Journal Response:

“I’m afraid. Every day I fall farther from God. I’m ready to give myself to Him. I pray for courage and strength. I don’t need to think about what my friends will say. I won’t hide it. Satan has his ways, but God is always there, leading me home. I’m scared. What if it all comes crashing down? God has my back. He gives me signs to show me He is there. It’s the little things that remind me of His grace. He is always there. There will always be troubles, but I’m ready for them. I’m safe.”

Teacher’s Reflection Response:

Having a classroom of non-Adventists caused me to rearrange the 7th-grade units. I didn’t feel I could address Heaven and My Response until first going through all the units showing the kids the transformational love of Jesus. Today was commitment day, and choices were offered and decisions made. Journal entries show the rawness of their junior high hearts, and my prayers will continue to follow them as summer break nears and they leave the safety of school.”

Several other curriculum resources for various levels of education and specific subject areas have had a similar impact on the hearts of students and teachers:

NADOE has developed three curriculum resources to serve as instructional supports for centers and classrooms. The CREATIONKids Preschool and CREATIONKids Infants, Toddlers, and Twos curricula are both designed to facilitate the growth and development of young children, molding them to be competent learners and communicators who are confident in their sense of belonging; secure in the love of Christ and the church; and healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Cobblestones, the third curriculum resource, is designed to assist teachers in meeting the needs of children (age 4) enrolled in Pre-K and kindergarten combination classrooms.

Pathways 2.0: A Journey to Excellence Through Literacy (Grades 1-8) provides instruction in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This biblically-based curriculum is built on the Adventist worldview and the belief that Christ is the Model Teacher. Pathways 2.0 recognizes the responsibility of nurturing excellence and service to others. The lessons in each unit provide rigorous academic quality aligned with literacy proficiency standards.

Recognition and respect for the diversity in our world are seen through the choice of anchor texts and instructional lessons throughout the program. By exploring big ideas and varying answers to essential questions, students are led to understand that the Bible is the standard for learning and for living a life of faith. This new curriculum was piloted during the 2017-2018 school year and was adopted for use during the 2019-2020 school year.

ByDesign science and biology textbooks (Grades 1-8). God designed His children to wonder, question, and learn about their environment. This type of learning was also encouraged in the biblical schools of the prophets.1 ByDesign is built on a foundation of inquiry that encourages wonderment, questioning, collaboration, and exploration of multiple resources to conduct research and investigations.

Professional Development

The Boston Consulting Group was engaged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct a research study of 2,900 educators, primarily in public schools, on what comprised effective professional-development experiences. The findings were published in Teachers Know Best―Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. Researchers found that teachers get the most out of professional development that meets the following criteria: personalized, hands-on and interactive, sustained over time, and delivered by someone who understands their experience.2 With this in mind, the NAD has been developing innovative systems to deliver professional development and ensure that teachers can develop their expertise and create a sense of awe and wonder in their classrooms.

The Adventist Learning Community (ALC) is an online platform that provides the resources needed to film learning modules to deliver training for the new curriculum to teachers and offers professional development in many topics important to educators. ALC uses 3,000 training presentations from SimpleK12 and opportunities for Adventist experts to film professional development for teachers.

Learning Coaches is another new initiative in the North American Division (NAD). At the union and conference levels, learning coaches are trained to support teachers in the classroom. On any given day, they may be brainstorming with teachers, modeling lessons, curating resources, or developing customized curricula for individual students or special units. Mentors are also assigned to orient new teachers to the school, help them master the unique Adventist curriculum, as well as to model a lesson, develop projects or lesson plans, and lend a compassionate ear as they prayerfully work together.

Webinars have been increasingly successful as a tool used by the NADOE to assist teachers in continuing to learn by enhancing their skills. They provide information and time for collaborating on new curriculum, social and emotional learning, accessing digital resources, and developing innovative strategies and new assessment tools.

The Adventist Education Website is accessed by educators at all levels in North America and around the globe. It offers a wealth of resources such as job postings, online subscription resources, curriculum microsites, multigrade resources, assessment tools, NAD standards documents, resources for school boards and principals, and the Curriculum and Instruction Resource Center Linking Educators (CIRCLE), which serves as a comprehensive source for accessing an ever-expanding array of resources for Adventist educators as they continue the teaching ministry of Jesus Christ. For more information, visit

Technology Tools and Resources

The NAD Office of Education strives to serve, support, and transform our PreK-12 schools on many technology-focused fronts:

Adventist Teacher Connect is a platform for PreK-12 Adventist teachers to connect with other teachers and classrooms throughout the North American Division. Interaction and collaboration between classrooms enhance learning beyond classroom walls with fewer physical limitations or boundaries. Through technology, video conferencing, networking, and collaborative lessons, teachers can partner with their peers to create culturally enriching and faith-based learning experiences for their students.

Adventist Education Dashboard, NAD’s division-wide reporting portal houses secure files, student and teacher ID managers, and reports created from the consolidated data from schools, such as grades, attendance, and demographic information. It is continually being fine-tuned to meet the needs of all levels.

eCertification, a portal accessed through the AE Dashboard, allows educators to go online to review their denominational-certification status and determine what is needed to renew or complete their credentials. is a helpful repository of information for NAD educators, as well as an avenue for the division to share information with others regarding our system. The site includes invaluable resources for teachers, administrators, and pastors. It is the main port of entry for our curriculum microsites (Bible, social studies, physical education, language, science, math, and technology). These sites are created specifically with the Adventist teacher in mind. provides information, collaboration, strategies, and inspiration to our NAD educators for engaging students, using technology as the catalyst.

How Adventist Higher Education Is Making a Difference

Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and practices are needed today more than ever. A world too often filled with emptiness, insecurity, and restlessness needs the revelation of God’s character in the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

Graduates of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A. Photo courtesy of Union College (

The CollegeImpact Research Study, commissioned by the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities (AACU), was launched in 2011 with results published in 2014. Alumni of Adventist institutions in the North American Division were contacted through alumni offices and interviewed using online surveys and telephone interviews. Using a snowball sampling method, researchers asked alumni questions about their higher education experience.3 Then, using the same sampling method, they asked the same questions of Adventists who graduated from public institutions,4 to compare appropriately. The study represents responses from alumni of 10 AACU institutions. Here’s what they found:

Graduates of NAD Adventist colleges and universities are:

  • Eight times more likely to have experienced encounters with professors who helped them develop spiritually and develop spiritual values.
  • Seven times more likely to have experienced professors who studied the Bible with them and increased their faith in the Bible.
  • Seven times more likely to have experienced professors who prayed with them.
  • Seven times more likely to have experienced professors who positively influenced their relationship with Christ.
  • Seven times more likely to have had friends who attended worship services with them while enrolled at the college or university.
  • Seven times more likely to have developed a deeper personal relationship with Jesus.
  • Six times more likely to have experienced professors who provided meaningful classroom worship experiences.

Considering these facts, Seventh-day Adventist higher education has never been more essential than it is now.

Leaders of the 13 Adventist colleges and universities in the North American Division are keeping the system strong. They understand the importance of continuous improvement and are deepening the collaboration among the schools. Recognizing that higher education is expensive, the goal is to mitigate the cost and enhance academic excellence by working together. The Internet and distance education have brought about significant changes in the way students learn. The use of distance education along with the living-learning environments of an on-campus experience provides the best of both options.

Studies indicate that the values of young people are influenced most by their peers and mentors. There is no better place for the crucial transition into adulthood than the environment on the campuses of the North American Division higher education institutions. An Adventist education can make all the difference in the world―and all the difference for the world. For more information, including all 100+ reasons that one should choose Adventist higher education, visit

Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) is a consortium of 25 Seventh-day Adventist universities and colleges. ACA provides a service to the universities and colleges in the NAD territory by enrolling selected students in 11 study-abroad programs in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Taiwan, and Spain. Through ACA, students study a new language while immersed in its native culture and earn credits toward their degrees. They also gain a new understanding and appreciation of the beauty and richness of diversity and find God in a different, deeper way. ACA has been sending students abroad for 57 years, and its alumni affirm that it was a life-changing experience. More information is available at the ACA website:

Adventist Education―Transforming Lives and Impacting Kingdom Growth

Adventist education seeks to transform lives by leading students into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Within the NAD, this is exemplified by the large number of students engaged in evangelism and outreach. One example comes from Ruth Murdoch Elementary School in Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A. In 2019, for the sixth year in a row, junior high school students at Ruth Murdoch pitched a tent for a student-led evangelistic meeting on the campus of Andrews University.

During these meetings, the students preach sermons directed to their peers as well as the community, lead out with the praise team, serve as greeters, and operate the audio-visuals. At the end of the 2019 meeting, 30 youth and adults requested baptism―the highest number of requests in six years. The students not only witnessed lives being transformed—but through direct answers to specific prayers, they too, were transformed. To God be the glory!

Our educators and students alike are carrying forth the gospel commission of Matthew 28:19 and 20; reaching the world and transforming lives for time and eternity!

Publishing Note: Due to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and the twice-postponed General Conference session, this quinquennial issue was delayed. Reports in this issue cover the 2015-2020 quinquennium.

Arne Nielsen

Arne Nielsen, MEd, is Vice President of Education for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists in Columbia, Maryland, U.S.A.

Martha Ban

Martha Ban, MEd, is Associate Director of Technology and Support for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Gordon Bietz

Gordon Bietz, DMin, is Associate Director for Higher Education for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Desiree Bryant

Desiree Bryant, MEd, is Associate Director and Ministerial Spouses Leader for the NAD Ministerial Association. She formerly served as Assistant Director and Projects Coordinator for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Sandra Esteves

Sandra Esteves, PhD, is Director of Adventist Colleges Abroad for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Marc Grundy

Marc Grundy, MBA, is Director of Marketing for Higher Education for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Leisa Morton-Standish

Leisa Morton-Standish, PhD, is Director of Elementary Education for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Evelyn Sullivan

Evelyn Sullivan, MEd, is Director of Early Childhood Education and R.E.A.C.H. for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Recommended citation:

Arne Nielsen et al., “Transforming Lives for Time and Eternity,” The Journal of Adventist Education 83:4 (2021): 31-36.

Notes and References

  1. Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press, 1903), 45-50; __________, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press, 1913), 73-85.
  2. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Teachers Know Best―Teachers’ Views on Professional Development (2014), 1-4:
  3. The CollegeImpact Research Report (2014) asked graduates of Adventist institutions in the North American Division about career preparation, personal and professional experiences, academic experiences, values, spiritual experiences, social interaction, and extracurricular activities. Snowball sampling, where participants recruit other participants, was used along with random selection. The responses of alumni from Adventist colleges and universities were compared with those of Adventist students graduating from public colleges and universities. For more information about the study results, see 100+ Good Reasons to Attend an Adventist College or University CollegeImpact Research Report (2014):; and for more on Adventist colleges and universities in NAD, visit
  4. Ibid., CollegeImpact Research Report. Adventist students graduating from public colleges and universities were contacted through Adventist Christian Fellowship, North American Division churches, and announcements in Adventist publications.