Our district’s focus on wellness and balance, our stated mission to prepare young people not simply to get into a competitive college but to lead lives of “joy and purpose,” has been generally met with overwhelming support by our community. Nevertheless, I inevitably get the question: “How can we change the competitive pressure our students feel when the college admissions process continues to apply it?
The Princeton Public Schools began the 2015-16 school year not only with new contracts, new excitement, and new students, but with a bold new strategic plan that establishes a clear vision and direction for the future.
The plan begins with a Mission Statement -- a single sentence that represents the core values of our community and our hopes for the students we serve.
“The mission of the Princeton Public Schools is to prepare all students to lead lives of joy and purpose as knowledgeable, creative, and compassionate citizens of a global society.”
Reflect for a moment on the words in that statement that may resonate with you.
ALL students. Every one.
JOY and PURPOSE. Rare and refreshing words in a school mission statement. Nowhere does the mission statement reference getting into an Ivy League college or making a lot of money. A different, larger definition of success is at work here. The goal is for our students to experience joy and meaning in their lives regardless of what pathway they may take -- and to experience it in the present, not at the end of some educational or economic rainbow.
Do we want our students to have extensive and in-depth content knowledge? Absolutely. We also want them to have creativity and compassion. All three are essential -- although not all three can be easily measured.
And finally, in the mission statement, we are explicit about our students becoming citizens of the world -- with all the cultural, linguistic, political and technological understanding that comes with that responsibility.
This mission statement, this single sentence, drives the work that we do and the direction we have established as a district.
So what is the work ahead of us in the next three to five years? We have identified the following five goals for which we are currently developing detailed action plans: