How do you systematically review, refine, and communicate your school vision and mission to stakeholders?
Engage, Inspire, Empower, and Grow!
In preparation for the 2014-15 school year, Caruso Middle School, in Deerfield, embarked upon the process of creating our own mission and vision statement, to complement our district mission and vision. This was done in order to:
guide decisions we make at the building level.
replace an old mission and vision that no longer existed.
further focus our future school improvement plans.
reflect on who we are, what we consider important to us, and where we want to go.
help determine what makes CMS unique compared to other schools around the district, state, country.
What resulted was a product that respected and reflected the wonderful feedback provided by so many of our school community stakeholders.
A group of eleven students, parents, teachers, and administrators met two separate times to brainstorm and collaborate. This process included creating a shared understanding of mission, vision, and values. It also included coding, interpreting, discussing, and applying data from two surveys that elicited responses from student, parents, and staff members.
We reviewed key points from relevant literature on this topic including DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, and Many’s Learning by Doing (2006). Dufour, et. al. stated, "We would argue that it is impossible to develop a results orientation unless we are clear about the core of the enterprise (mission), about the kind of school we are seeking to become (vision), and the attitudes, behaviors, and commitments we must promote, protect, defend (values)."
We spent time discussing what makes an effective mission statement. That conversation was assisted by the clever and relevant video from www.fastcompany.com, “How to Write a Mission Statement That Doesn’t Suck” (apologies to those who are like me and abhor the word suck in this context...the video is still worth the view!).
Looking next to one of our guiding documents as middle level educators we referenced This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents (2010) which was released by the Association for Middle Level Educators. They identify thirteen major goals that we reviewed to help guide our own priorities.
In the event that you would like to replicate or modify our process the survey questions we used are included here:
What is your role in the CMS community?
Mission: What about Caruso Middle School makes you most proud?
Mission: What do you believe is the purpose of Caruso Middle School?
Vision: What would you like Caruso Middle School to be known for in the future?
Values: What three values do you believe are the most important to the success of Caruso Middle School?
Optional: Please enter your name below if you would be willing to serve on a committee to help shape our CMS mission, vision, and values?
+Provide educational experiences of the highest quality that engage, inspire and empower each student to excel and contribute in a changing world....
-...by developing the leader within each and every student.
-...by promoting the continuous growth of each and every student.
+(based on your response above which verb would you prefer to add to the District 109 mission and vision motto for our own CMS motto?)
Our new mission statement mirrored the district's mission statement, but also captured a major theme that emerged from the feedback which was student growth:
Provide educational experiences of the highest quality that engage, inspire, and empower each student to excel and contribute in a changing world and to promote the continuous growth of our students.
Our vision and value statements also reflected the survey feedback in explaining how CMS will engage, inspire, and empower our students by:
Developing leadership qualities in every student.
Committing to educational excellence.
Promoting service to the school, community, and society.
Contributing to a safe, fun, and respectful environment.
Recognizing dedicated, skilled, and caring staff members.
One of our parent committee members was kind enough to contribute her artistic talents to create an image that captured our new CMS mission, vision, and values:
The final process and product were communicated via email to our entire parent, student, and staff member in our school community. We also posted the mission and vision images throughout the hallways and classrooms. It has been added to our school letterhead and makes appearances throughout various presentations and committee work to provide us with a collective focus in a wide spectrum of areas.
Dr. Brian Bullis serves as the principal of Charles J. Caruso Middle School in Deerfield, IL. He has experience in teaching and administration at the middle school and high school levels. His educational experiences include a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from The University of Iowa and a Doctorate in Education from Loyola University Chicago in Administration and Supervision. You can follow him on Twitter at @bbbullis.