The core values of an organization are those values we hold which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves.I took this definition of Core Values from a National Park Service website because it seems to convey a need our two school districts have for joint cooperation. As we get into the school year there will be differences of opinions and new procedures for a lot of things. Sometimes we'll have some good past practice to guide us, others may not be so clear. By defining a set of values with which we base decisions in those moments, we increase our chances of being consistent and compatible.
A District Leadership Team composed of lead teams from both Valley and North Fayette met in late June to discuss and plan for this upcoming year. Our first order of business was to compare each districts' mission and vision statement and any other value statements we had for both. From that comparison we developed a list of statements that should become a common reference point for our partnership throughout the year. So, without further confusing the issue our Core Values as identified by this group are:
1. A Safe Environment - When we discuss safety we mean both physical and emotional safety. The physical part should be obvious to everyone, clean well maintained buildings and grounds with adequate security and supervision to reduce physical accidents as much as possible. Emotionally, we need to eradicate bullying and harassment, we need to create an educational environment where students can take risks academically without fear of ridicule or of failure. Some of the best lessons in life are learned through failure, it is what makes success possible and more rewarding.
2. Students as unique individuals with diverse interests and abilities - What a boring world we would live in if we were all alike! Diversity amongst us makes us aware of all the opportunities for growth each of us has. Intellectual diversity should be stimulating and thought provoking, students with different strengths and weaknesses should be respected for their differences and nurtured as a vital component of our community. We value schools and classrooms that support all of our students to be and do their best, regardless of their background, abilities or disabilities, and opinions.
3. Good citizenship (e.g. Integrity, Ethics, Respect, Responsibility) - If we don't have integrity we have nothing. Good citizens possess an ethical attitude that identifies and learns the boundaries of good citizenship, respects the rights of others and meets their personal responsibilities.
4. Achievement, (Reaching their Full Potential) - This is another way of saying we hold high expectations for accomplishment. Students should aim to do quality work, on time and do their best work, everyday! We are not going through the motions of school, we are learning and reinforcing learning through consistently demanding best effort. As with not being afraid of failure, students should also not be afraid of trying hard. Too many times students don't try, for fear that they can't do. None of us knows what we are capable of until we strive to do our best work everyday, all day, not just in the classes or activities we like the most.
5. Partnerships with parents - Please do not think of the relationship between you and your child's teacher or administrators or coaches as adversarial. We will be encouraging GOOD NEWS from North Fayette Valley to go home as often as bad news does. We want to do that so that our communications are frequent and meaningful. If your child is having difficulty, lets talk about it. If you believe any school employee is not meeting expectations, lets discuss that. Talk to the people who can help you solve problems rather than complaining to those who simply nod their head and agree with you.
6. Partnerships with the community - In our classrooms are not the only places learning can take place. Teachers are not the only people in the community who can teach their children. Real life experiences from all facets of our community are important to all students. When we say partnerships with community we are not just talking about money! Volunteers, committee members, guest speakers, field trips, demonstrations, job coaches and all kinds of role models are necessary for our villages to raise these children. Please get involved!
7. A well rounded comprehensive curriculum - One of the big reasons we have entered into this arrangement is to maintain a broad and deep curriculum for all of our students. There are limits, but if we create the aforementioned partnerships and get away from our standard thinking about what school is or was for all of us adults, you never know where and how we can find learning opportunities. We're still not a big school, but we are positioned to do much more together than we ever could apart.
8. Lifelong learning for all - I'm an old dog. These are new tricks. These students need to learn persistence in learning and the best way we can do that is by setting the example. If I can pick up on things like blogging and Twitter, iPhones and tablets, then you can all learn something new everyday. Don't say you don't know how to do something before you try to learn it. Even if you don't succeed you'll be better off than never having tried. Our society demands more from its future citizens than we ever could imagine. These students need to learn persistence in learning and the best way we can do that is by setting the example.