Thursday, October 26, and Friday, October 27, 2023

The Edvance Annual Gathering brings together over 1200 Christian educators, leaders, and staff every October for inspiration, professional development, and connection with your colleagues in Christian education.

Plan to join us at Redeemer University on Thursday, October 26 for a full day of keynotes, breakouts, and networking with your peers, as well as on Friday, October 27 for all-day specialist conference workshops on a variety of topics.

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Keynote Speakers



Friday Specialist Conferences

Thursday, October 26, 2023

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10

So many messages in culture (and sometimes in schools) preach that human beings need to earn their identity and worth through personal accomplishment. In Ephesians Paul gives a different vision. We are God’s handiwork—his beautiful work. That identity can’t be earned, it’s a gift of grace. And out of that identity, we then are invited to participate in making beautiful work too. We are God’s beautiful work, created in Christ Jesus to also make beautiful work. Sonia Thompson and Darryl DeBoer (with appreciation for Ron Berger’s book An Ethic of Excellence) will deepen our understanding of flourishing students and beautiful work in our classrooms. What specific practices lead to this sense of purpose in creating beautiful work through learning, not as a pressure for acceptance but as a joyful response to our identity as people of God’s story? Join us at the Edvance Annual Gathering 2023: “Flourishing Students, Beautiful Work.”

Keynote #1 - Leading and Flourishing with an Ethic of Excellence

In this keynote, Sonia Thompson will unpack some of Ron Berger's “strategies, models and metaphors” as exemplified in her book, Berger's An Ethic of Excellence in Action. She will examine how evidence-informed practice can underpin and support the implementation of Berger's “Toolboxes” within any school setting. The session will provide opportunities to look at exemplification and examine next steps for your own school.

Keynote #2 - The Beautiful Work of Educating for Wholeness

During this keynote, Darryl DeBoer will explore learning stories that invite, nurture and empower teachers and students to play their part in the unfolding Story of goodness and delight, brokenness and rebellion, redemption and restoration. It is his Deep Hope that exploring these stories within the Story will root all of us deeper into our identity as God’s handiwork invited to design learning experiences that lead to the flourishing of the learner while renewing God’s world.


Sonia Thompson

Sonia Thompson is the Headteacher at St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School and the Director of St Matthew’s Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Research School, in Nechells Birmingham, UK. St Matthew’s is a Talk for Writing Training Centre and previously held UK Department for Education Teaching School status. Her school regularly hosts visits for teachers and school leaders who want to see evidence-informed practice across the curriculum.

Sonia recently published a book called, An Ethic of Excellence in Action; has had articles published and regularly reviewed blogs for Schools Week. She has a chapter in the researchED Guide to the Curriculum and is a contributor to the new WALKTHRUs 3 book. Sonia is a board member of the UKLA National Council and the Birmingham Diocese. She is also a trustee for the Church of England National Society, Classics for All and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), and a Secondary School Academy Chair. Sonia is regularly asked to deliver keynotes and training at various conferences and events, across the country.

Darryl DeBoer

Darryl DeBoer is a Senior Fellow for the Center of the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE) at Dordt University and the K-12 Director of Learning at Surrey Christian Schools in Surrey, BC. Darryl is also the co-creator, and Director, of the framework Teaching for Transformation which equips teachers to design learning experiences that invite, nurture and empower learners to engage ‘in real work that meets real needs for real people’ within God’s Story.  Away from work, Darryl can be found with his wife Jodie walking his dog, listening to Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash and William Prince as he drives his three kids around, and wishing that he was fishing.

Edvance Annual Gathering Devotions

A 3-week devotion guide has been created around the Annual Gathering theme: Flourishing Students, Beautiful Work to use in your personal or staff devotions time leading up to and after the conference.

Download now


This year we are rolling out a dual-schedule model that we believe offers the full Annual Gathering experience at Redeemer, while removing capacity constraints. This means that every Edvance affiliate school will have the opportunity to attend in person and have a seat in the auditorium if they choose.

In-person attendees will follow either the BLUE, GREEN, or PURPLE schedule, which are explained in more detail below. Educators will spend half of the day with your peers in a PSN session and then a breakout session of your choice, and the other half attending worship and keynote sessions.

Please carefully read the section below that best fits your role.

BLUE Breakout Session Options

GREEN Breakout Session Options

PURPLE Workshop Details

You will begin the day in the Redeemer auditorium, first in worship, and followed by keynote sessions led by Sonia Thompson and Darryl DeBoer.

You’ll join the full group for boxed lunch, which can be enjoyed anywhere on campus.

In the afternoon, you’ll spend 90 minutes together with your PSN group, led by your PSN facilitator.

Then you can choose from a list of breakout sessions led by experts on a wide variety of topics, either directly related to teaching in primary or intermediate grades, or on a broader subject appealing to educators. View the BLUE expert breakout session options here.

You will start your day with your peer support network (PSN) in a breakout classroom at Redeemer, where you’ll be led in an opening circle and devotions by your PSN facilitator. Enjoy a special treat in your PSN session! After devotions, you’ll spend 90 minutes together with your PSN group.

Next, you can choose from a list of breakout sessions led by experts on a wide variety of topics, either directly related to your teaching specialty, on a pedagogical topic, or on a broader subject. View the GREEN expert breakout session options here.

You’ll join the full group for boxed lunch, which can be enjoyed anywhere on campus.

In the afternoon, you’ll head to the Redeemer auditorium for worship, and then for the keynote sessions led by Sonia Thompson and Darryl DeBoer.

Special Half-Day Session at the Edvance Annual Gathering with Jim McKenzie: 

This session is for school leaders, vice-principals, office administrators, financial administrators, and everyone who is responsible for admissions, enrollment, and communications at your school.

While the teachers are attending Peer Support Network (PSN) sessions and breakouts at the Edvance Annual Gathering, you are invited to join Jim McKenzie for a special half-day workshop about enrollment strategies for Christian schools. Jim is an experienced school leader and engaging speaker who has extensively tested, developed, and teaches best practices for Christian school marketing and enrollment. Get more details about the Enrollment Strategies workshop here.

After Jim's session, you’ll join the full group for boxed lunch, which can be enjoyed anywhere on campus.

In the afternoon, you’ll head to the Redeemer auditorium for worship, and then for the keynote sessions led by Sonia Thompson and Darryl DeBoer.



Day One - Thursday, October 26, 2023

Registration pricing for Day One of the Edvance Annual Gathering is based on your staff list. Schools are encouraged to send their entire staff to the Annual Gathering, and the fees are structured accordingly.

In-person registration includes: keynote sessions, participation in peer support networks session, choice of expert breakout session, morning and afternoon refreshments, and lunch

Livestream (remote) registration includes: link to livestream of worship and keynote sessions on Thursday morning

If you are not sure which registration level applies (i.e. # of staff we have on file for your school), please contact Edvance's Director of Finance, Yvonne Weaver, at

ONLINE REGISTRATION FOR SCHOOLS IS NOW CLOSED - please contact us at to add or delete attendees for your school, or for any other registration questions.

 If you are registering as an individual, scroll down further for details.

Can’t make it to Redeemer in person?

If your school can’t join us in person, there’s an option for you! Schools can sign up to view the Annual Gathering conference livestream. The worship and keynote sessions will be streamed on the morning of Thursday, October 26, 2023.

Register your school for the Livestream

Coming Alone?

If you'd like to register as an individual for the Edvance Annual Gathering, send us an email at and we'll walk you through the registration process.

The registration fees for individuals are as follows:

Friday, October 27, 2023

Research reveals that the best professional learning opportunities are active, collaborative, role-specific, and build in time for ongoing support during implementation. With this aim, day two of the Edvance Annual Gathering provides interactive, role-specific, full-day workshops led by experts in a variety of topics.

Browse through the catalogue for the 2023 Specialist Conference offerings: 

View the Friday Specialist Conference lineup

Registration for the specialist conferences will be on a per person basis, and individuals will be invited to sign up when they confirm their registration details. If you'd like to register for Friday only, please contact us at

Friday specialist conferences are IN PERSON ONLY. Registration includes: a full-day workshop from 9am - 2pm, morning refreshments, and lunch