Starting a charter school requires visionaries—people who are goal-driven and have a clear definition of success. A charter school’s mission statement is important not only for application to your state’s Department of Education, but also represents the core goal around which staff, teachers, leaders, and students are oriented. A mission statement describes what a school has set out to accomplish, and it’s an essential touchstone for everything that happens under your school’s roof.
Too often mission statements are treated as secondary marketing messages that don’t become integral to the school programming—they are lofty words posted on the wall of an office and don’t inform the goings on at the school. If written and used well, the mission statement has potential to be a powerful tool in shaping a school environment. It’s up to school leaders to write and live their school missions effectively.
What should you consider when writing and implementing a strong school mission statement? Our team of charter school marketing experts agree on the following recommendations.
- Develop your school’s core beliefs. What do you and your team believe should be a part of every education? What do you believe about the students you serve? What is the heart of excellent curriculum and teaching? These beliefs will help shape your mission statement, and are an important part of the reason your school was started in the first place.
2. Look at the mission statements of other schools. Reading the mission statements that others have created can help you with your own. Here are some great examples for each grade range:
- “Unapologetically focused on the academic success of our scholars, Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis educates 5-8th grade students through high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, and character development to succeed in college and become leaders in thought, word and action.”
- Indy STEAM K-6: Indianapolis (Indy) STEAM Academy will nurture the academic and creative talents of students through the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and provide a strong literacy foundation to ensure the achievement of all students and prepare them for high school, college, and careers in a 21st century global workforce.
- East Valley High School: Provide an educational program that challenges each student, including at-risk students, to attain his or her highest academic and character potential through a coordinated Humanities curriculum, an integrated performing and fine arts program, community service and a traditional approach to education.
- Resolute Middle School: Our mission is to equip students in grades five through eight with the academic foundation and strength of character necessary to excel in selective high schools and colleges.
- EPLA East Middle and High School: Our mission is to educate and empower students with tools essential to achieve their self-actualization, academic potential, and success.
3. As you begin drafting your mission statement, lead with academics. Academics are, after all, the primary function of your school. What outcomes will be achieved by students at your school? Are those achievements time-based and measurable? Although your school might have a special focus on sports, societal concerns, projects, and other activities, the heartbeat of these activities is still academics.
4. Edit your mission statement to be clear, concise, and easily understood. It should be accessible to teachers, administrators, parents, support staff, and students. Avoid pedagogical jargon or complicated language; be clear and specific.
5. Write for a public audience. Remember that the mission statement will be displayed on your website, on classroom walls and hallways, and used in teaching practices. It should be integral to what happens daily at your school, so you’ll want that to inform the drafting process. It’s important to get it right—it’s central to your school culture!
6. Live it. You’ll want to be sure that you and all other school leaders and administrators can and are actively modeling your mission statement. A dedication to the mission from top down will lead to your school’s mission feeling authentic and lived within your school community.
Thinking of starting a charter school? Read the steps to achieving your charter school dreams.