Adventist Culture and Education Choices

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Whether in a one-room schoolhouse, or a boarding academy, or a missionary school in another country – for so many of us, Adventist education played a significant role in our childhood and upbringing.  Enrollment in our church schools, however, has been declining over the last two decades and there have been many attempts to pinpoint exactly what the problem is. Is it the quality of academics offered? The cost of tuition?   Changing priorities among parents?

Aimee Saesim Leukert, doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University and associate director for the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education (CRAE) at La Sierra University, is seeking to approach this issue from a different angle by exploring the relationship between parental religiosity and school choice.  More than just a study on general religious practices and beliefs, though, Aimee is interested in taking a closer look at the cultural aspect of Adventism. As she explains, “I have long been fascinated by Adventist culture and how that affects people. Beyond Sabbath-keeping and the state of the dead doctrine, there is this part of Adventism that includes haystacks, vespers, and engagement watches. How significant is that culture when it comes to influencing our life’s decisions – specifically where we choose to enroll our kids in school?” 

Aimee began her dissertation in March, first interviewing over 120 Adventists across America to develop a formal model of the culture of Adventism.  This led to many fascinating and insightful conversations that have added rich context to her study.  The next stage was to write a survey instrument that would include those cultural elements as well as other questions about general religiosity and Adventist doctrines.  

As of mid-June 2018, the survey has been completed and released for distribution. Aimee is asking all pastors to share the link with their congregation as she is looking for responses from any Adventist parent who has a Kindergarten-12th grade child, regardless of what school they attend.  Pastors can help in this study by:

1)   Sharing the link with their members in church or Sabbath School, on the church website, Facebook page or other social media, and encouraging them to take the survey:

2)   Putting inserts into church bulletins that have information about the study as well as the URL to access the survey

3)   Distributing paper copies of the survey in church or Sabbath school

The deadline for participation is July 15, 2018.  For paper surveys, bulletin inserts or any other questions you may have about this study, please email Aimee at

Before coming to La Sierra University, Aimee worked as an elementary and academy teacher and principal at Crescenta Valley Adventist School, Newbury Park Academy and Monterey Bay Academy.  She is passionate about Adventist education and is delighted that both her professional work and academic studies allow opportunities for her to strengthen and support the Adventist educational system.

Aimee Saesim Leukert is the Assistant Director at the Center for Research K-12 Adventist Education at La Sierra University