Our mission and core values both work to remind us of our current and future goals. When we have an effective mission and clear core values, both work to support all learners and help guide us towards making effective decisions that largely impact both Feaster and our community.
When we first wrote our mission statement, we reflected on what we are doing now and will continue doing. While our core values list who we are, our mission statement works to describe our the promise we are making to every learner and community member that is part of Feaster Charter. Together, as a school team, we reflected on what was important and what made us unique as a school. From that list, we composed a draft of our mission statement then we heard feedback from our staff, students, and families. The mission statement was discussed and input was received and changes were made. The reason I say this is because it is important to recognize that this was a group effort – all stakeholders were part of making this mission statement and it has become a promise showcasing what opportunities we will provide to our students.
At Feaster Charter School, students are at the center of all decision making. We prepare our students to become 21st century learners in a multicultural society by infusing Visual & Performing Arts as well as Science, Technology, Social Studies, Engineering & Mathematics into our daily curriculum and literacy instruction. This integration challenges our students to communicate and think critically, creatively and collaboratively. By introducing the Arts and Sciences we are fostering leadership and reasoning skills, as well as increasing self-esteem at a young age to make a life changing impact. The students who leave Feaster Charter School will be lifelong learners who are on their way to being college and career ready.
When we say that students are “at the center of all decision making,” we mean that every decision that is made by our admin, staff, board, and community should ultimately have a positive impact on our students. We do this by making sure that our teachers, admin, and board members all have the best wishes for our students and they all work to make decisions that will bring positive learning experiences to our students.
21st Century Learners
When we give opportunities for students to explore and create, we are helping them be 21st century learners. This is done in all academies – STEM, STEAM, and VAPA. This means that we are going beyond just lecturing and modeling and, instead, we are giving opportunities for students to apply their learning in ways that help them show and develop their voice and choice.
For example, after teaching a math standard, teachers can allow students the opportunity to apply their learning by having them create a project that demonstrates what they learned – creating a tutorial video for another class, composing a graphic chart with step by step instructions, making a comic that walks students through the process, etc – whatever project is chosen to demonstrate learning, it is important to have the students choose what their final product will look like. This can be done by providing a rubric showing expectations, but not giving specific limits on how to demonstrate learning.
Communicate and Think Critically, Creatively and Collaboratively
When we work to bring out the strengths, interests and values of our students through everyday problem solving activities and give time to work in different teams, we are enforcing the skills needed for our students to effectively communicate, think critically, creatively, and collaboratively. This means that students have time throughout the day to work within different groups. During this group time, students are able to communicate about their learning while working through complex problems that would be too challenging to do independently.
For example, when students are reading, they can work in book club groups to reflect on their reading (communication), respond to each others questions (working collaboratively), share their thoughts/notes/inferences (showing creativity), and work to understand the deeper meaning of the text (think critically). Another way to provide an opportunity for students to be creative during book clubs is to allow them the chance to make connections to the world/author/events in the book. The website, Reading Rockets, has some great strategies to support your readers and help them communicate and think critically, creatively and collaboratively.
Life Long Learners
When we work to give opportunities to go beyond the curriculum and really make a difference, we are helping to develop life long learners because we are making sure that we are showing students that learning happens in and out of the classroom. Learning is not limited to the school environment and the more we take learning out of the classrooms and apply it to our student’s lives by making connections beyond the classroom, the more we are supporting our students in becoming life long learners.
For example, our work with Sanford Harmony and our whole school buddy up lessons are helping students develop relationships while learning. This helps develop life long learners because it shows that learning can happen across all ages as well as both in and out of the classroom. These partnerships work to encourage students to own their learning and provide support to each other to work towards learning goals. These goals may include furthering their education and communicating about what they want for their present and their future.
- We have a Growth Mindset
- We keep all staff and every student in mind
- We commit and follow through
We have a growth mindset when we work to reflect on the academic education we are providing and recognize that we can always grow and improve through hard work and dedication. We show that we have a growth mindset when we let go of existing practices when they are no longer effective for our students and work to provide opportunities that are going to have a better impact on our learners.
Keep Staff and Student in Mind
We keep all staff and students in mind when we communicate and work to be transparent in our decision making process. When we can include as many people as possible and explain the reasons for our decisions while working to problem solve as a team, we are keeping everyone in mind. When we go back to our mission statement and make sure that the decisions made are in line with our promise to the community, we are also keeping all staff and students in mind. This is important because when we keep all staff and students in mind, we are ensuring that our decisions are made as a team and they will positively impact our school while continuing to support our mission statement.
Commit and Follow Through
We commit and follow through when we work cohesively with all learners to make a plan that will positively impact Feaster and then we bring everyone in to take part in making it happen. During the follow through, it is important for everyone to have clearly defined tasks and roles. Communication throughout the process is also crucial. The entire community, when necessary, should also be part of the reflection process. I am not saying that every single decision needs to follow this process, but when we work to make a change, we should make sure that we have the commitment of all learners and a clear plan explaining what will happen next and how we are going to reflect on the process and overall outcome.
It is our mission statement and core values that drive Feaster and make it a successful learning environment. Both the mission statement and core values work together to give us a guide to decision making and planning for our school. With our community, students, teachers, admin, staff, and board members, we can all work together to make sure that our actions and decisions are in line with our core values and overall mission. The work and progress that is being made to make sure that we are following through on the promises defined in our mission statement is happening because of everyone who keeps our students in mind when changes and decisions are made. The work and committment of everyone is greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing how this positively impacts our students.