A Detailed Guide to Creating a School Vision Statement
Credit: JB Hi-Fi
A school vision statement is a mirror image of the school’s purpose. If you tried to recall your high school vision statement right now, you likely wouldn’t be able to quite put your finger on it. Yes, it probably had something to do with those slogans and posters hung all over the school’s walls, talking about “global citizens,” “inspiring leadership,” “reshaping education,” or similar concepts, but that’s about it, right?
If you were like most high school students, you either never knew or forgot entirely what your school’s vision statement was. And the chances are that many of your teachers and other members of the school’s administration weren’t able to recite it word for word, either.
Now that you are starting your own school, you want to hit that nail on the head and devise the perfect vision statement that will inspire your staff, students, and the whole community. You need to put a lot of work in crafting your school’s vision — that way, you will achieve that every stakeholder in your school can recall it any time of day or night, and you’ll prevent it from becoming obsolete and a cliche.
Creating a school vision statement is a serious task. We’ll explain what it is, why it matters, how to go about writing it, and we will provide you with some examples to get your creative juices flowing.
The Importance of a School Vision Statement
A vision statement is an essential public declaration that informs the community about the school’s purpose and its goals for the future. It usually explains what the founders and the staff envision the school to be and how they see it impacting the students, both throughout their school years and well into their adulthood.
The school’s vision embodies all the values that it strives to instill in its pupils and inspire in the community on the whole. It is an impactful declaration that should also serve as a powerful motivator for the school’s staff, unifying them in their approach to teaching and guiding the school’s decision-making.
Here’s an overview of the importance of having a strong vision statement that:
- Informs the community on the school’s core educational values
- Drives the staff toward a common goal
- Sets forth the expectations of the teachers, students, and administrators
- Establishes the teaching methods and the approaches to learning
- Influences the syllabus and curriculum
- Informs decisions, especially in situations when it is difficult to reach a consensus — the choice can be made with what aligns best with the school’s goals
- Is essential for school accreditation or reform
The School’s Vision and Mission
The school’s mission and vision statements are deeply intertwined, so much so that it often happens that they are confused one for another, used interchangeably, or they become a single concept.
A vision is a goal that the school aims to fulfill in the future. It is a short declaration that exemplifies the shared beliefs and values of its founders and staff. A mission is an explanatory declaration of the actions the school is taking to reach its long-term goals, i.e., its vision.
In essence, a school first needs a clear vision to embark on a mission. All stakeholders — from the school’s personnel to the community members — should be involved in drafting these essential statements, joining together their values and aspirations. If all stakeholders at your school share the same vision, they will be on a common mission.
School Vision Statement
School Mission Statement
How to Write a Vision Statement for a School
Keeping in mind the relevance of the school’s goals is the first step toward creating a school vision statement. Only then can the people involved in crafting it set out to compose the school vision declaration that will reflect the institution’s long-term goals in the best way.
To that end, the school vision statement has to be:
- Accurate. Your school’s vision needs to be in line with the idea behind your school, closely linked to why you started it in the first place and the change you see it making in your local community, as well as the educational system on the whole. Avoid bland, ambiguous catchphrases that have been done to the point of meaninglessness and that can be applied to any school or business, and make your vision true to you.
- Concise. While the mission is the more detail-oriented statement, the vision is a short and to-the-point declaration that is, nonetheless, worded in a way that makes a lasting impression.
- Memorable. Your school vision statement needs to paint a picture in people’s minds and etch it there. That will raise awareness of what the school is trying to achieve and how everyone can contribute.
- Inspirational. Craft a vision statement that shows how passionate you are about your goals. If it evokes similar emotions in your community, they will be more interested in participating in the school’s programs.
The importance of creating a school vision that resonates throughout the community is undisputed, but writing it is not as easy as it sounds. The process involves several essential steps, which we list below.
Get the Right People Involved
To make sure you get ideas from all stakeholders in the school, you need to cover all levels of its organization — its IT and HR departments, administrative personnel, instructors, the office manager, the principal — and the community, including the students and their families. You will need to select representatives from each group for the actual vision statement drafting stage, but you will also want to include a wider audience later on for feedback.
To get a better picture of what everyone envisions the school achieving, ask some general but essential questions, and build from there in whichever direction the conversation goes. Some of the matters you can bring up include:
- What is your vision of the school in this district in five, ten, or 20 years?
- How do you see the staff, students, and the community benefiting from our school? Why does it make a difference for everyone involved?
- What is your ideal school like?
- What is different about our school in comparison to others in the area? Do we want to improve on that?
- What do we all have in common?
- Is there a specific niche that we can tend to? For instance, do we have specific conditions for students with disabilities, are we 100% eco-friendly, or do we have special mental health programs that we can offer to students and the community on the whole?
Draft the First Version
Now is the time to get the creative juices flowing and ideas going. Encourage conversation and debate to come up with a successful first draft that is an amalgamation of everyone’s vision and efforts. You may uncover the missing ingredient of the U.S. educational system and find a way to implement it in your school.
Make the Statement Pop
Everyone must be able to grasp the meaning of your school vision statement. To that end, avoid vague jargon-speak that everyone feels in awe hearing but that no one can understand or explain fully.
Keep your community in mind — what you need to strive for is a statement that they can relate to and that will get them involved instead of one that will cause their eyes to widen blankly and their heads to nod without determination. Such statements seem impressive initially but fail to inspire in the long run as no one is quite sure what they are all about.
Focus on these tips instead:
- Be specific. Avoid vague lingo that can safely cover all your bases. You should cut straight to the chase and say it as it is, e.g., we will create a welcoming atmosphere for students of all races and skin colors and provide them with equal opportunities in education.
- Be future-oriented. Your school’s vision is all about tomorrow. It is where you will do your utmost to get, which is why it should be written in a future tense. It is also a good idea to revisit your vision at the end of every school year and check how much closer you got to your goal. That provides for an opportunity to tweak your mission and the steps toward seeing your vision become a reality.
- Emphasize your strengths. Mention any specific programs that you have to offer, such as the mental health support mentioned above or anything else that makes your school stand out.
Get Feedback From the Community
Now the time has come to present the fruit of your hard work. Keep in mind that the drafting process can be a lengthy one, and even when you’re ready to show the results to your community, your school vision statement will still be far from finished. Depending on the kind of feedback you receive, you may need to recast the statement and reiterate your message if the stakeholders feel it’s incomplete.
Bear in mind that going through the feedback and revision processes is time-consuming, but it is just as vital as drafting the first version. If you include a broader community in creating the school’s vision statement, they will be more invested in seeing something they helped produce become a reality and will be involved in what’s going on in the school on the regular. That kind of sense of belonging and unity is surely worth some additional rewording, wouldn’t you agree?
School Vision Statement Templates and Examples
In case you need additional help, we can get you off on the right foot by showing you some examples of school vision statements that you can look up to.
Grand Rapids Public Museum
“To inspire passionate curiosity and a deeper understanding of the world around us.”
Grand Rapids Public Museum is the role model for what reinvented high school education should look like. This school breaks down the barriers of the traditional classrooms by co-locating itself to the Grand Rapids Public Museum and its invaluable archives.
It also partners with various local businesses and organizations to provide students with a community-wide classroom, inspiring them to learn from experience as much as from books and become problem-solvers and creative thinkers in the process. The vision statement above doesn’t go into detail, but it succinctly sums up the school’s primary goals.
Furr High School — An Institute for Innovative Thinking
“Furr High School envisions a world in which all young people prioritize academic excellence and environmental sustainability, becoming advocates for themselves and their communities.”
Furr High School is an educational setting that welcomes student-driven revitalization of the community. It fosters an environmentally friendly approach and a social justice standpoint, inspiring students to meet their academic goals and their area’s needs. Its vision statement focuses on those instrumental ideas that drive the school on the whole.
Da Vinci RISE High
“All disconnected youth in Los Angeles will secure quality education, training, and employment opportunities.”
Da Vinci RISE High‘s vision statement exemplifies what we mean by accuracy to the T. This high school endeavors to bring equal educational opportunities and beyond to students who are disconnected and displaced and live in the Los Angeles area. It is an ideal place for those looking for a non-traditional learning setting or a flexible schedule. It strives to break down the barriers set by bureaucracy and marginalization and to boost its students’ confidence to go to college and achieve their career goals.
Elizabethton High School
“To create a 21st-century learning environment where everyone is held accountable, reaches for excellence, embraces community, displays resilience, and values integrity.”
Elizabethton High School was made for students by students. This exceptional, student-centered establishment caters to the needs that the pupils themselves identified as unfulfilled by traditional schooling. It focuses on community improvement and dealing with local problems, provides funding for student entrepreneurship, sculpting the youth into 21st-century businesspeople. We believe that this school’s vision statement hones in on that to perfection.
“Compass Academy will educate youth to be well prepared for post-secondary education, workforce training, and civic participation. Compass Academy will provide multiple pathways for students to achieve adult success. Students at Compass Academy will develop as lifelong learners who think critically to solve problems, as well as foster a lifelong commitment to serve the global community.”
Compass Academy is a high school that is an established educational innovator. It strives to help students develop their personalities and tune them for an unknown future. It promotes cooperation, problem-solving, and hands-on learning in order to teach students how to tackle problems and come up with innovative solutions. Its vision statement pinpoints the school’s main ideas perfectly.
The Debate on the Need for a Vision Statement
Going back to the point brought up at the beginning of the article, it is essential to acknowledge that many schools tend to “forget” their mission and vision declarations altogether. As important as they are to devise, with the passage of time and the staff turnover, the mission and vision of a school often fall into oblivion.
That is why many people argue that spending a lot of time and effort crafting a school’s vision statement is futile. The skepticism arises from the fact that many schools end up developing in a way contrary to their visions, implementing different teaching methods and encouraging different learning strategies than those originally proposed in their founding documents and declarations. Such contradictions happen because the vision and mission of the founders change over time, but the statements do not, making their existence questionable at best.
For a proper reform of the American educational system, a stronger emphasis has to be put on the school’s vision, as well as its mission. The school’s administration, its teachers, students, parents, and all other stakeholders in the school’s community have to be aware of where the school is going and what their roles on that journey are. The school’s vision statement is much more than a vague string of powerful-sounding words — it embodies the school’s core values and is the foundation of all the actions it will take to guarantee a better quality of education for its students.
Break Out of the Status Quo and Initiate the Change!
There are schools that function from one day to another and from one academic year to the next. Then, there are schools, such as the ones mentioned above, that achieve greater things and help shape the future of education.
If you want to be one of the schools that trigger change, start with drafting an impactful vision statement. We strongly believe that it is the secret ingredient in the recipe for the innovation of the high school system in the United States.
Words are undoubtedly powerful, but if they don’t set people in motion, they remain just empty words. If your public vision declaration turns into actions successfully, your school could become a cornerstone of the educational system of the nation.
Share your founding story, your drive, school culture, mission, and vision with us, and give us an account of what you’ve achieved so far. Even a small change is the much welcome shift in the right direction, and we want to support you on your way toward your end goal.
Your vision will become a part of our own as we share your story on our blog. Join our cause and let’s rethink high schools together!
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