05/09/2012

Board adopts vision 'Cape Schools open minds and open doors'

At their May 8, 2012 meeting, the School Board adopted a new statement of vision, mission and values for Cape Elizabeth schools.

"Cape Schools open minds and open doors" begins the 116 word statement designed to grasp what Cape Elizabeth schools stand for, and to serve as a spring board for a strategic plan to be developed next year.

The statement is the culmination of work that began in December, shortly after Superintendent Meredith Nadeau assumed her duties. "And it's been on the board's list of goals since before I was hired," Nadeau said at the meeting.

Taking input from staff, students, administrators, stakeholder groups and the community at large, an ad hoc committee presented and refined a final draft which the board approved May 8. Nadeau called the statement a first step in educational planning, but an important one. "It will be a great lens through which we'll be able to look as we move forward," she said.

School Board Chair Mary Townsend characterized the statement as short and simple, and said she hopes it will be memorable for all stakeholders.

The approved statement is 81 words shorter than the draft presented to the board just one month ago. In the four paragraphs describing the common values of the school system, verbs like "understand", "strive" and "cultivate" are replaced simply with "value."

"We wanted to be sure we didn't get into process as much as philosophy," Townsend said in a telephone interview. The process of how the schools will accomplish its values will be left to the strategic plan, she said. The board will map out how the plan will be developed by the end of the summer, with the actual work to start next fall.

Even before the board adopted the vision, mission and values, the statement was having an impact on teaching. Administrators planning an upcoming 'TEDx' day of motivational presentations for High School juniors and seniors have selected "Cape Schools open minds and open doors" as its theme for next December, Townsend said.

Here is the text of the approved mission, vision and values:

CAPE Schools open minds and open doors.

We empower students with the academic, personal, and social
knowledge and skills needed to build fulfilling and engaged
lives.

Community: We value the connections among our school, local, and global
communities that foster meaningful participation in a dynamic and diverse world.

Academics: We value rich and varied learning experiences that support critical
thinking, perseverance, effective communication, and independent and collaborative work inside and outside of the classroom.

Passion: We value personal investment in learning in an environment that
nourishes joy and creativity, protects risk-taking, and cultivates individual
expression.

Ethics: We value decision-making and actions guided by the principles of personal integrity, empathy, responsibility, and respect for self and others.