Susan Walsvig, a fifth grade teacher at Mariners Christian School in Costa Mesa, California, had always enjoyed her job. But after a recent family tragedy, she gained even more appreciation for her workplace and colleagues.

Last December, her nephew was dying of brain cancer. She wanted to take time off but she did not have enough vacation days to do so. That's when the school's headmaster, Mary Letterman, went to see her. "You shouldn't be here," said Letterman. "Take the time you need so you will have no regrets, and go be with your family." The administration was not the only point of support for Walsvig; her coworkers helped carry her workload until her return.

The response of Mariners' leaders and employees reflects the attitude found in many of the top finalists of the second annual Best Christian Places to Work survey. Conducted by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), the survey polled more than 10,000 employees from 107 organizations in a variety of Christian industries (including this year's new additions: church-related organizations and businesses with a Christian mission that do not necessarily offer explicitly Christian products or services). But the workplaces that stood out were the ones that extended the boundaries of loving one's neighbor to include office colleagues. These organizations look more like Christian communities than Christian corporations, and their employees treat one another more like family than co-workers.

"We look out for every aspect of our employees' lives, beyond what is happening in their classes," says Letterman. "We work to create an atmosphere where we can care for our faculty and staff in practical ways."

When employees believe that their employers genuinely have their best ...

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May 2004

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