Creating a Focused and Condensed School Mission Statement

Vol. 16 No. 4

head eletter vol16 no4 writingmission

Last month we highlighted the Characteristics of Professional Excellence and how you can use them in your school.

The Characteristics of Professional Excellence are one of three statements—together called your Purpose and Outcome Statements—that we recommend every Leadership Team create and use to guide all decisions made within their school.

Purpose and Outcome Statements include:

  • Your mission statement: The creed by which the school operates.
  • Your Portrait of the Graduate: A series of five descriptors that define a school’s mission in terms of student outcomes. These capture the core values the school strives to instill in each student.
  • Your Characteristics of Professional Excellence: A list of specific behaviors, values, and attitudes that mission-appropriate faculty and staff members must possess to help the school mold its intended graduates.

Today we’re going to focus on creating a focused school mission statement. Your mission statement must provide the scope and guidance your school needs to define its purpose in a direct, clear, and distinguishing manner.

Chances are that your school has already created a mission statement. But if it fails to distinguish your program from others in the marketplace—or isn’t a strong foundation for strategic planning, curriculum selection, staffing decisions, and personnel evaluation—consider reevaluation.

This can be a task for a committee of members of the Board, the Leadership Team, the faculty, or a combination of these appropriate people. You, as School Head, lead this venture, while the final statement must be formally approved and adopted by the Board.

A strong mission statement is a 30-word (or fewer) declaration of your school’s essential purpose as an institution. It is not comprehensive, but it is value-laden. It differentiates your school from its competitors, making you memorable and marketable.

Review your current mission statement. Do the core words and phrases you use meet the criteria above?

Now, ask the question, “Why does our school exist?” Brainstorm answers that describe the qualities your school values. Narrow that list down to four or five core reasons for your school’s existence.

With the original statement and newly brainstormed qualities in mind, have the committee review and revise your school’s mission statement if necessary. This new statement should be focused, condensed, inspirational, memorable, and easily memorized.

Below is a sample mission statement. Yours will be different, reflecting the unique needs of your community and the commitment of your institution.

Sample Mission Statement
To prepare our students for next-level academic distinction, commitment to service, and lifelong engagement with the global community.

A quality mission statement helps provide your students, faculty, and community with an easily understood set of critical ideas around which all your school’s activities are focused.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Advancement Vol. 15 No. 8 The Importance of Creating a Portrait of the Graduate Statement for Your School
The Source for School Heads Vol. 16 No. 3 6 Ways to Use the Characteristics of Professional Excellence

Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 31 No. 5 Purpose and Outcome Statements: Capture the Essence of Your School
I&P Vol. 38 No. 7 Solutions for Your Wandering Mission Statement

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