Documenting Your Foundations
There is no question that when it comes to establishing and growing a Christian school, good foundations are essential. To be sure, Christ is our rock, our cornerstone, the church’s one foundation. But what does that look like in a Christian school?
One really helpful way that many schools have sought to define and communicate their foundations is through a series of foundational documents. Creating nice looking documents is not an end in itself, but helps the school community to be united on three important questions:
- Who are we? This is a question of identity. Your foundational documents can define and clearly communicate what kind of community your school is.
- What are we here for? This is a question of purpose. Your foundational documents can paint an inspiring picture of what your school is, under God, striving to accomplish and why.
- What’s the plan? This is a question of strategy. Your foundational documents outline how you are working toward your purpose.
What might these foundational documents look like? There is no single answer – different schools in different contexts will have different needs – but the following gives you some ideas to start with…
Some “documents” will actually be more like statements or short lists of items that are meaningful and memorable. They can act as an easy reference point when making decisions or solving problems.
- Mission Statement. A carefully worded summary of your school’s reason for existing.
- Vision Statement. A phrase or short sentence that describes what it will look like if your school is accomplishing its mission.
- Core Values. A list of words that describe who you are as a school community. There is probably a long list of words you would like to include, but keeping it to about five will enable members of your community to remember them.
- Expected Student Outcomes. A list of words or short phrases that describe the most important characteristics you wish to see in your graduates.
Consider using some creative ways to represent these ideas in addition to words, such as images or symbols, or simple mnemonic devices to make these statements memorable.
Some documents are a bit longer. These are less memorable, but are equally useful as a reference point when planning or facing challenges.
- Statement of Faith. This outlines the core beliefs that your school holds to be true and important. It will reflect the particular denominational position of your school, if relevant.
- Christian Philosophy of Education. Teaching is not a neutral activity, but is one that is founded on assumptions about the world and the place of human beings in that world. A clearly written document outlining the school’s Christian philosophy of education provides a framework within which teachers can form their own approach to the curricular content that they are required to teach. It supports the process of Biblical worldview integration in all subject areas, and the advancement of the school’s mission and vision.
What foundational documents does your school have? How have they helped your school community work together towards a common vision? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.