A lot of exciting chatter about our schools has been heard in our communities in recent weeks. People are talking after the school board unveiled a proposed strategic plan for our schools.
One of the Strategic Planning Team members who helped create the new plan recently told me many parents and community members had come up to her and shared their excitement about the proposed mission and objectives. Even when faced with people who were initially skeptical and thought this plan was just more, “Business as usual,” the team member quickly responded to the skepticism and sold them on its merits.
Empowering our community to join us in setting this course for the future of our schools is why our school board embarked on this new strategic planning process. Our new mission is really the community’s mission — created by district residents specifically for the children of the Stillwater-area schools. There were 30 community members and staff on the original planning team, and more than 200 people are actively involved on action teams that will identify the desired results and actions to make the new mission a reality.
With this community involvement, expectations and accountability for the district will surely increase. There is no doubt \our schools will change as a result of this process. We are dedicated to ensuring our students are learning the skills needed for learning in the 21st century.
Our mission — along with the related beliefs, parameters, objectives, strategies and specific results —remains in draft form until the school board votes on the new strategic plan in February. Here is the proposed mission statement:
“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.”
You will notice a couple of things about our new mission statement. The first is it is missing much of the educational jargon you see in other school district mission statements. This is intentional. The Strategic Planning Team wanted the mission to be understood by all who read it.
The second thing you notice is that a few key words are underlined. I did this for the column today to highlight a few things. Look at the words that are underlined: Partnership, community, curious, leaders, ever-changing world, challenging and personalized. Each word was carefully (and in some cases painstakingly chosen) by the planning team, and these underlined words are at the heart of what we are going to do differently.
Working in partnership with the community; developing students who not only have the knowledge but place it in practice by being engaged and curious; being responsive in a world that is changing every day; challenging each and every student in wherever their interests and future might take them. This is what has been given to us as a charge by the community members and staff who are deeply committed to our new plan.
Life has taught me over and over again that it is not what I know, but what I do with that knowledge that leads to success in life. Speaking to individuals representing our local businesses and companies I have heard how our students need a different skill set for the future. There is an emphasis on innovation and collaboration that wasn’t there when you and I went to school. I believe these are the very skills that will help our young people remain successful .
I am optimistic, excited and dedicated as a parent and school superintendent to ensure that these opportunities are available for all students in Stillwater Area Public Schools, and I believe that our new mission is exactly what we need to get us there.
Learn more about our new mission and the strategic planning process online at www.stillwaterschools.org/actionplan.
Superintendent Corey Lunn can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phone at 651-351-8301. Questions can also be sent by mail to Superintendent, Stillwater Area Public Schools, 1875 South Greeley St., Stillwater, MN 55082. Register for Stillwater Area Public Schools E-News at www.stillwater.k12.mn.us/subscribe.