By now, you have read about our new mission and vision statements. These form the “widest angle” focus for our work going forward. The mission is descriptive - why we are here, and the vision expresses our desire for where we want to be as a school. It is important to point out that “we” in these statements refers to all of us: students, staff, families, and our wider community. This is not about what the school does to or even for students, but what we all do together. This came through very clearly as a strength of ASH in the input that led to this revision of our statements. Our next step is to develop, over the course of the spring semester, plans for how we will drive toward the vision through specific projects and programs in light of these statements. Let’s have a closer look at what these mean and how they came to be.
Our Mission: Community
As we have discussed earlier, all schools have as a crucial part of their mission the importance of learning. Acquiring and building new knowledge are paramount. Our community spoke clearly about the need for learning to be in service of something altruistic - making the world a better place, whether through advancing peace and justice, safeguarding sustainable practices, or ameliorating suffering. This is why our mission begins with improving ourselves to make the world a better place. Similarly, community members explained how this does and could happen, so we captured these ideas in the tenets that follow:
- Hearing and valuing every voice; we are inclusive in every sense of the word. We seek input, and we take and give feedback honoring the differing backgrounds and positions of those with whom we speak. We foster openness, vulnerability, and working together. Though we cannot do everything everyone suggests, we strive to include everyone’s voice as much as possible.
- Keeping every promise; we follow through on our commitments, and equally importantly, we learn to commit to those things that are of the most value for all. We do not make promises lightly, and we do not promise things we cannot deliver - as a school, to our colleagues, to our friends, to our neighbors.
- Celebrating every achievement; in an environment that celebrates success through data, Euro signs, headlines, and tweets, we do not overlook the small victories. We celebrate the unique achievements of everyone in our midst - whether on a small or large scale. In this way, we build confidence and resilience for a life of challenges and achievements.
Our Vision: Empowerment
Where do we want to go, and what do we want to be known for as a school? This is where the vision comes in. Again, from the wide range of input from all stakeholders, everyone wants to feel empowered in their sphere of influence. We want to feel we can take control and we have the tools to do so - whether in our workplace (as staff), in our school work (as students), and in our parenting (as parents). In a rapidly changing work and life environment, developing centeredness and sense of control is crucial to success.
All learners (everywhere from 4 to 70 years old) should be able to take control of their learning, explaining how they are growing and developing and setting out their next step for themselves with the help of teachers and mentors, but in ways that are increasingly independent. This means we must address way more than “just the three Rs,” and this is best done by stretching everyone’s learning into the world at large, including but not limiting ourselves to the classroom. This might mean everything from working in the hallway with a cross-grade-level group and working in the local community on a real issue needing a solution, to traveling to another country to exchange knowledge and effort to make a difference. As an international school community, we are citizens of the world, so let’s capitalize on that.
These are the broad ideas that will give focus to our plans and projects going forward. What an exciting journey ahead!
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