Hitting the Refresh Button: Mission & Values that grow a school
The American School of Warsaw, Poland
The Board wanted to implement a new strategy. But first, they needed our help to review the values upon which the school had been founded – values perhaps no longer reflective of the community it served.
NoTosh and a design team of students, parents, staff, board members and school leaders began observing every aspect of what made the school tick and, as the post-it notes, interview highlights, photographs and sketches spread across the walls of the dedicated ‘Project Nest’, right in the heart of the school, some defining points began to emerge.
Out of the collective voice came the need for a common language and a concrete definition of what the school stood for; a desire for a similar collaborative approach to be applied to other areas of school life; and an opportunity for the direction and future course of the school to be clearly laid out for everyone, particularly the students.
As NoTosh and the design team sought to establish meaning from the thousands of pieces of data captured, we looked beyond hackneyed truisms of honesty, integrity and respect to find descriptive stories that summed up the essence of the school and made it unique. Ditching the traditional jargon of values, ‘Five Things You Need to Know About This School’ was created instead. The simplicity of language means that the whole school community can understand their role in amplifying the school’s values every day, whether as a teacher, student, school leader, board member or parent.
“Being able to write up our values and have them accompanied by stories that
conveyed the purpose of them, and the route of them, was a really powerful moment
for us. It was so clean and new, and really showed the school community that we
had heard them and that their voices had helped build and bring these values
Jon Zurfluh, Director