Do You See What I See?

The Christian school principal must embrace a vision for what the total staff desires to characterize the local Christian school ministry at some time in the future.

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The principal must be a thinker.  He/she must assume the leadership that is required to establish a vision for the school and to incorporate that vision into organizational, structural, and programmatic goals and policy.  It should be realistic; it should be attainable.  It should address such things as school culture, school structure, school organization, the system for delivering the school programs, and the students that are enrolled.

It is especially important to address school culture.  Examining school culture takes on a historical aspect, dealing with such things as patterns of meaning, norms, values, beliefs, ceremonies, rituals, traditions, and even myths, that have characterized the school in the past. It means determining where the school has been, where it is presently, and what the school is to become.   In addressing culture, it is critical to treat the values and beliefs that will guide the formation of policy and practice in the local Christian school.

Creating this vision is never a static event.  Why?  Because a vision statement must change as the culture of the school changes, or as school structure and the means to deliver the educational program changes.

The Christian school principal will always be the key individual as he/she leads a staff to write a realistic and attainable vision for the school.  This is especially true since there are conditions that will greatly enhance progress in attaining the vision.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon the principal to know and/or to do the following:

  1. Know what he/she believes and values about the education of children.
  2. Value diverse backgrounds of students and embrace the principle of “learning for all.”
  3. Focus the vision statement upon the needs of students.
  4. Make a strong personal commitment to the vision for the school.
  5. Prepare to articulate the vision to all stakeholders in the education of children.
  6. Plan for a continuous and repetitive dialogue that focuses upon the vision statement.

As you think about the role of the local Christian school principal in leading a staff to write and maintain a focus upon the vision statement for a local Christian school, think about and respond to the following questions:

  • Given the need to define a vision for each local Christian school, should there be a concerted effort to reframe the role of the Christian school principal?  If so, who should lead this task?
  • Is there a need to make adjustments in preparation programs for Christian school leaders to reflect such things as writing and focusing upon a vision statement?
  • What can be done to help the many Christian school principals currently serving in that role to be better equipped to write and focus upon a vision statement for the school he/she directs?  If so, how is this to be accomplished?

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Click here to read Dr. Suiter’s first article in this series.

Dr. Suiter taught in the School of Education at Marshall University. After leaving public education in 1980, Suiter has served in a variety of leadership roles within the Christian school movement both at state and national levels.

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  • Edward Earwood

    Phil, well said. The need for focusing the vision of our school on the needs of the students is so critical. I our multifaceted world it gets very easy to try to be too encompassing is the development of a vision statement. Good thoughts.