Dr. Eckert came to Baylor in 2019 with more than two decades of experience in education. He provides academic leadership for the Center and is program director for Baylor’s MA in School Leadership. He began his career as a teacher and coach of intermediate and middle school students outside of Chicago and Nashville for 12 years. After completing his doctorate at Vanderbilt University in 2008, he was selected as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked in both the Bush and Obama administrations on teaching quality issues. For ten years, he prepared teachers at Wheaton College.
His research interests include collective leadership, teaching effectiveness, evaluation and strategic compensation to enhance that effectiveness, and science education. Over the past decade, he has written and worked on grants of more than $300 million with schools and districts across the U.S. Dr. Eckert has conducted research for the U.S. Department of Education, the Carnegie Foundation, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, and the Center for Teaching Quality.
He is the author of The Novice Advantage: Fearless Practice for Every Teacher (Corwin, 2016) and Leading Together: Teachers and Principals Improving Student Outcomes (Corwin, 2018), book chapters, numerous peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Educational Administration Quarterly, Professional Development in Education, and Education Policy Analysis Archives, and practitioner publications such as Education Week and Phi Delta Kappan. He has written and presented white papers on Capitol Hill and the National Press Club and has been invited to present all over the U.S. and as far away as Muscat, Oman, at a G8-Broader Middle East Summit for education ministers.
Matt Thomas, EdD
Dr. Thomas joined the Baylor School of Education in 2018. As Executive Director, he oversees the operations of the Center, leading the strategy, planning, and coordination of programs. He previously served in Christian schools, Christian higher education, seminaries, and pastoral ministry for more than 25 years. Most recently, Dr. Thomas served as the Executive Director of a national radio ministry broadcasting on more than 600 stations.
His experience and expertise include mentoring, the development of leaders within Christian organizations, and organizational culture and health. Motivated by the joy a person experiences when they invest in the life of another, Dr. Thomas aims to equip Christian leaders to lead from a posture of humility and Christ-like influence that catalyzes the leader to effectively help that institution fulfill its mission. Dr. Thomas is deeply committed to training leaders to purposefully engage the seismic shifts facing Christian institutions today and firmly believes that the effectiveness of an institution is most closely related to the quality, character, and training of its leaders.
Director of Networks and Improvement
Mr. Ellefsen manages the BCSL’s Christian Leadership Transformation Project, a program designed to equip Christian educators across the country by gathering networks of school teams around problems of practice to catalyze school improvement and student flourishing.
Ellefsen has served in education for more than two decades as a teacher, coach, consultant, Dean of Academics at Boston Trinity Academy, Principal at Chicago Christian High School, and Grievance Chairman for the American Federation of Teachers. Most recently, he served at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA. He currently serves as Senior Fellow for both the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education and Cardus. He also hosts the Digical Education, a podcast providing engaging conversations with some of the most innovative education leaders, and a leading collaborator and author of the Mindshift project.
Ellefsen is a graduate of Wheaton College, with a BA in Social Science and Illinois teacher accreditation, an MEd in Administration and Leadership from Benedictine University with Illinois administrative credential, and attended Boston University to further his studies in Educational Policy and Organizational Leadership.
Assistant to the Executive Director
Ms. Lumley coordinates academies, institutes and learning networks for BCSL, along with other responsibilities for organization of the BCSL team.
Prior to this position, Ms. Lumley was the Community Engagement Coordinator at Baylor’s Mayborn Museum. In this role, she organized teacher workshops, school outreach programs and developed community partnerships, including the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Prior to that position, she taught elementary for two years after a career change in 2013. Her first career of sixteen years were spent working in the newspaper industry, half of those at the Waco Tribune-Herald.Ms. Lumley graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She is a native of Waco and in addition to her professional work, she serves on the advisory board of Providence Hospice, volunteers as a leader for Choices Seminars, and teaches a pre-k class at Meadowbrook Baptist Church.