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Making Our Mission Matter

Monday, March 13, 2017

Make your mission matter. That was the focus of the 2017 NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) conference in Baltimore. 

Joining me on the conference journey this year were Middle School Head Suzanne Nagy, Upper School Head George Scouten, and Columbia Connections Director Donnie Bain. We left campus on Wednesday afternoon in the Hinchey-family Honda minivan and flew from Charlotte-Douglas to Baltimore–Washington International (BWI). 

The conference featured four general session speakers and hundreds of small workshops. I heard presentations on legal issues, experiential learning, introversion, branding, marketing, enrollment, and diversity. 

I was also proud that two Heathwood administrators had the opportunity to present at this year’s conference. George Scouten and Donnie Bain co-presented with their Winchester-Thurston School (PA) counterparts about “Community Based Learning: From Our School to Yours.” Their workshop was a synopsis of our collaboration with Winchester-Thurston, WT’s 8th year of their City as our Campus program, and our one-year-old Columbia Connections program.   

However, all sessions in some way connected to the conference theme, and this year’s conference invited a lot of reflection on mission, and its relationship to the daily life of a school.

Why is a school’s mission so important? 

These are challenging times to be an educator, a parent, a school administrator, and a student. Change is happening quickly, and to prepare our students for the world they will inhabit as adults, the best schools must look boldly forward, while embracing and respecting their history and tradition. How does a school respect the past and prepare for the future? They must utilize their mission and vision statements as both a compass for future change and an anchor to the strengths of their past.

The conference confirmed my commitment to steward a school that, as our mission statement says, “cultivates creative and critical thinking, develops leadership and social skills, and promotes service to others over the pursuit of self-interest through a rich academic and extracurricular program.”

Sir Ken Robinson spoke at the conference, and he called for schools to create a school culture or “soil” in which students can grow and develop. This was particularly affirming, and it reminded me of Heathwood’s vision statement: inspire and empower students to unlock their potential, develop their character, and gain the confidence to transform a dynamic world.

It is an exciting time to be at Heathwood Hall, and I will continue to follow our vision and mission, remain committed to your children’s future, and strive to be a school that unlocks potential and develops character. Go Hall!