• Peggy Downs

Your mission statement and why it's important

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

How do you create a great mission statement for your charter school? And once it is created, how do you ensure it is a living statement of your school’s purpose, and not just an obscure paragraph buried in the charter? A mission statement for a charter school describes what the school does. This is different from the vision statement, which describes the future position of the school and its expected impact. Together, the mission and vision of a charter school demonstrate its unique position and educational goals for its authorizer, community, staff, and school leaders.



How to create a powerful mission statement for your charter school

A charter school mission statement is generally crafted during the charter application stage. Your mission statement is a marketing tool that you should write, re-write, share, overthink, and rewrite again. The statement informs the authorizer of the school’s goals. What do the founders hope to accomplish? What do they expect students to do? How will they make it happen, and how will they know if they have met their goals?


In other words, what does it look like when students are succeeding at this school? A good mission statement has several components. Charter school mission statements are general student-centered, describing what students will do and what the learning environment will be at the school. It expresses the founders’ philosophy of education and child development. Most charter school mission statements also describe the expected impact on the students, families, and communities they serve. To be effective, a charter school mission statement needs to:

  • Be substantive, not vague – you want a down-to-earth description of what your school will do.

  • Be clear and focused – what outcomes do you want to produce? College access? World citizens? Lifelong learners?

  • Have emotional appeal – show your passion for this school and grab parents’ attention with strong emotional words.

  • Have a brand persona – use words that match your school’s tone and intent. Are you college prep? Environmental activists? Technology geeks? Use words that match your school culture.

  • Have longevity – focus on what is lasting and impactful, not trendy.

A look at some examples

As you read the following mission statements from charter schools across the nation, which ones give you the clearest picture of the school’s purpose? Which ones seem to give you “marching orders” for running the school? Which one makes you want to enroll your child today?


Christopher House Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois

Christopher House Elementary school’s mission is to develop independent, creative, lifelong learners in a school where students, teachers, and parents form a community committed to excellence, achievement, perseverance, respect, and compassion. The school’s rigorous college prep curriculum develops critical thinkers who will succeed in high school, college, and beyond.


Keystone Montessori, Phoenix, Arizona

To inspire in children a passion for a lifelong love of learning in an environment which nurtures independence, creativity, confidence and tolerance while developing a sense of responsibility for self and community based on the principles and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori.


Liberty Common School, Fort Collins, Colorado

The mission of Liberty Common School is to provide excellence and fairness in education through a common foundation. This is achieved by successfully teaching a contextual body of organized knowledge, the values of a democratic society, and the skills of learning. In short, we teach common knowledge, common virtues, and common sense.


Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette, Colorado

The mission of Peak to Peak Charter School is to:

  • Provide broad access to an exemplary K-12 liberal arts preparatory education that challenges students to achieve their academic potential.

  • Be a community that values and recognizes scholarship, academic achievement, and creativity.

  • Provide an environment in which each student is known, respected, and valued as an individual of great potential and promise.

  • Prepare students to become active and responsible citizens of an interdependent world.


Springs Charter Schools, Temecula, California

Our mission is to foster the innate curiosity of our students, empower their parents, and promote optimum learning by collaboratively developing a personalized learning program for each student. A strong mission statement with active verbs and a deep sense of passion for the school’s purpose can unite the community, give parents a clear understanding of what to expect, and guide administration and board decisions.


Elements of a powerful mission statement

Whether you are crafting a new mission statement for your dream-school or reviewing your current mission statement, there are several key questions you should ask yourself and your team. Your mission statement needs to define what your school will do for:

  • Your students

  • Your employees

  • Your community

The mission statement should also answer these questions:

  • What is our definition of success?

  • How will we know we achieved it?

With clear answers to these questions, the charter school leaders have a roadmap for success.


Benefits of an effective mission statement

According to Strategic Management Insight, a good mission statement can provide the following benefits:

  • Informs organization’s stakeholders about its plans and goals;

  • Unifies employees’ efforts in pursuing company goals;

  • Serves as an effective public relations tool;

  • Provides basis for allocating resources;

  • Guides strategic or daily decision making;

  • Shows that a company is proactive.

These benefits are just as important for a charter school as they are for a small business or large corporation. Take your time in writing and understanding your school’s mission statement. This is the most important statement you will create. Make sure it says to others exactly what you mean to say.


Resources

Looking to learn more about becoming a more effective charter school leader? Check out these books:

Board Meetings: A Guide for Charter Schools

Charter School Board University

Fieldstone Alliance Guide to Crafting Effective Mission and Vision Statements

Start with Why


Or just visit my Amazon Book Shelf for Charter School Leaders to see my new book recommendations.



Check out these related posts

Have you kept your promise today?


How to find a healthy balance


How good is your board?



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Peggy Downs works with school leaders who want to leverage grants to dramatically increase funding, impact, and credibility for their schools. More info and a ton of free resources are waiting for you at: www.peggydowns.com

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