It takes great skill for a teacher to get students excited about a typically mundane topic.
Evergreen Middle School’s principal has managed to get the entire school — students, faculty, staff and parents — excited about writing the school’s mission and vision statements.
While most would consider writing such statements a tedious task, principal Kristopher Schuh began by getting students during their lunch break to write phrases describing the school and what they wanted the school to become.
They finished sentences that began statements such as: I wish …, I hope …, I envision … and I dream … .
Professional photographers Deborah Cota and Carole Urbas, both with students at the school, volunteered to spend two days photographing the students. Large photos of the students and their statements were plastered all over the walls of the school.
Next came a meeting of faculty, staff, parents and students — about 40 in all — who used the students’ ideas to hash out mission and vision statements.
A mission statement states succinctly what the school does now, and it should be accurate for about five years, Schuh said. A vision statement looks at where the school should be in five years, and, with some tweaking, the vision statement takes over as the mission statement in 2018.
Schuh encouraged all of the school’s 682 students, plus staff, parents and PTA members, to write statements.
Students wrote that they wanted no bullying, that they dreamed of a school where people could be themselves, that they pictured a computer lab filled with iPads.
Seventh-grader Alex Gall wrote that he envisioned a school of encouraged kids.
“I just noticed some of my friends didn’t try as hard as they could,” Alex said. “Everyone should try to strive for A’s and learn more, so they are successful in life.”
Eighth-grader Natalie Holley wrote that she encouraged people to think positively.
“If things put you down,” Natalie said, “then think of your future.”
Student Maggie Tucker wrote that she dreams of a brighter tomorrow.
“EMS helps you create and reach that dream, so you have a good future,” Maggie said.
The writing begins
At a lunch meeting recently, 40 participants were given long lists of the comments that were written and photographed in the hopes of whetting their appetites for incorporating the ideas into the two statements.
Each table of about 10 people worked together to craft mission and vision statements with phrases such as “accepted and nurtured,” “ignite a love of learning,” “high expectations,” responsible citizenry,” “pride,” “involvement,” “expectation for greatness” and “21st century learners” among the common threads.
Several possible statements came out of the two-hour meeting, and those drafts are in the hands of the accountability council for another round of edits.
Schuh hopes to have both statements approved by the council in the next few months.
“For solid mission and vision statements,” Schuh said, “the work is never done.”