Keeping the Mission of the School

Trustees not only determine the school’s mission, vision, strategic goals, and policy positions, but they must also be able and willing to articulate the mission in formal and informal situations. The school community and the world beyond look to trustees as the people, along with the head, who understand and support the mission and care deeply about the school. Therefore, each trustee is expected to be a visible advocate for the mission of the school and for the board’s policy decisions, whether or not such positions are popular with all constituencies.

In creating and reviewing the mission, the board must understand and concentrate on the unique focus and expertise of the school. It must realize what the school is not as well as what it is. Too many mission statements are generic — they could apply to many schools. Boards that truly understand the role of their schools in the communities they serve draft mission statements that, by themselves and without amplification, clearly articulate the vital, inviolate characteristics of these schools. Good mission statements do not explain “how” or “why.” They communicate “what” in clear, inspiring, and guiding words. Mission statements last over time, but regular reviews of the mission are important so that trustees understand and support it. In reviewing a mission statement, it is just as valuable an exercise to intentionally affirm the current wording as to change it.
(Excerpted from the Trustee Handbook, 9th Edition)