We are mindful of the needs and rights of others.
We are honest in our dealings.
We are peaceful in our intentions.
We are responsible in our actions.
We are supportive of each other.
Live Learn Lead: What's the story?
Every few years we take a look at the school’s guiding statements - our mission and values - to make sure that they still ring true and that they are guiding our actions and decisions. For many organizations, such statements are carefully crafted sentences, usually lengthy and laden with adjectives, that seek to encapsulate as much about the organization as possible. All too often, however, the statements become a kind of finished product that gathers digital dust on a webpage or sits on a poster in a classroom until the next review cycle rolls around.
At the beginning of the school year when we started our review we realized that we had fallen into that trap and decided that we wanted our statements to be much more. It wasn’t that the content of those statements no longer rang true; indeed, we felt the school’s core values of mindfulness, honesty, peacefulness, responsibility and mutual support remain truer than ever. Likewise, the mission statement’s emphasis on a high-quality, balanced education, inspired teaching and learning in a supportive environment, and fostering responsible global citizens was not in dispute, but we felt that the mission itself should be more elemental and dynamic. It should be the essence of who we are as a school community, what we are striving for and, importantly, not some set pronouncement but rather an ongoing catalyst for growth and for telling our stories. Students’ stories, teachers’ stories, families’ stories.
After a nearly year-long process of reflection and conversations among the full cross-section of the YIS community, we feel that our new mission, Live Learn Lead, does just that. Three simple but powerful words. Action words. Words that have a common understanding but are open to interpretations as diverse as the individuals who comprise our international community. Words that bind us together but also allow us to stand on our own.
The process of creating the new mission began back in September at a senior leadership team retreat, facilitated by Fieldwork International consultant Pam Harper. The team worked to distill the school’s purpose for being, i.e., our mission, into its core elements - Live Learn Lead. They then drilled down in each of those elements to look at the desired outcomes and experiences, as well as the programs and processes for making those possible. A key part of the exercise was to examine and articulate what live, learn and lead could mean to students, teachers, parents and other members of the school community, and to test whether they rang true and encapsulated our core beliefs and priorities within the different contexts.
Over the course of the school year this basic approach was repeated at separate workshops with the Board of Directors, school faculty and staff, students and parents, which provided great opportunities for conversations about who we are as a school and what we want to be. Capping off this process was a meeting that brought together representatives of all of these groups and articulated modifying statements for each of the three words that synthesized the input from all those who were involved in the process:
- We live well by challenging ourselves, caring for others and valuing our international community.
- We learn with passion and creativity, broadening our horizons and growing together.
- We lead by taking action and empowering each other to build a caring community and make a difference.
The inclusive process of creating our new mission, and the high level of engagement and enthusiasm at the workshops and meetings, reflects the great sense of care and trust that characterizes the YIS community. The discussions provided wonderful opportunities to hear participants talk about what Live Learn Lead at YIS means to them, and also reinforced how important these stories are and how they can really keep the mission alive. As just a sample, check out this brainstorming padlet from one of the mission development meetings, and listen to some of our students talk about Live Learn Lead in this video.