Board presents new mission for district’s future

The Independent School District 834 Board presented results Thursday of a strategic planning committee meeting regarding the new suggested mission, beliefs and strategies to take the district forward into the future.

The 30-member committee was composed of both community residents and district staff members. Group members said the committee spent a weekend having intense discussion, debate and conversation.

The new suggested mission statement is:

“The mission of Stillwater Area Public Schools, in partnership with students, family and community is to develop curious individuals who are active and engaged leaders in an ever-changing world by challenging each student as he or she travels along their personalized learning pathway.”

“What this was really all about is creating a unique identity and brand around the community and reigniting the love affair between the district and community,” said Siri Erickson, a community member of the committee. “It talks about learning, and getting families involved and really allows the community to claim the district again.”

Participants added that the statement embodies beliefs the committee established for the district which include: all people have inherent value; helping others leads to greater self-worth; a community thrives when everybody’s contributions are respected; curiosity is essential for lifelong learning; the future is dependent on outstanding leadership; encouraging diverse perspectives promotes innovation; success requires perseverance and learning from failure; all people deserve the environment and opportunity to discover and maximize their potential; and relationships based on caring, honesty and respect strengthen the community.

“What I really like about this is that it focuses on two things,” said Marine fifth-grade teacher panel member Chris Getchell. “The academic intelligence of our students who continue to do a great job, and on the emotional intelligence as well with opportunities to get involved in the community, be heard, respected, caring, and honest and it also serves all parts of the child.”

The next step is creating action teams to implement the 10 strategies proposed by the committee. The teams will identify the tasks and timelines needed to achieve these strategies. They will consist of community and staff members and meet from this month to January, then present their plans to the planning committee in mid-January.

The strategies include:

n Ensure positive relationships that support a sense of belonging for each student

n Connect students and community in relationships that are mutally beneficial

n Ensure staff has skills required to differentiate instruction, incorporate and leverage the culture and strengths of each student so each student has the skills and abilities needed to excel in an ever-changing world

n Develop an implement a process that ensures the curriculum is rigorous and consistent with our beliefs, mission, and objectives.

n Attract, hire and retain staff who embrace the accomplishments of our beliefs, mission and objectives

n Ensure that staff, students and families share in the accountability for the educational success of each student

n Engage students, staff, family and community through effective communication

n Provide the tools, resources, and learning environment necessary for each student to identify and pursue their passions

n Ensure that critical knowledge about the whole student is captured, shared and applied to guide them

n Provide a caring, healthy and safe learning environment.

n Some participants said the process has re-established a sense of trust with the board, and the ideas are good. But even those involved in the planning process know that the idea needs continued support

“It was an honor to be on this committee with community members, it was so positive,” said board member Natalie Fedie. “We as a board need to support the mission because it is from the community and without our support, it isn’t worth much.”

Those who are interested in getting involved in the action plan process should sign up at If people want to be involved in the kick-off event they should sign up before Oct. 22 though individuals are welcome to sign up after that date.