Find your North Star: Defining Values for Change
Ottawa Jewish Community School, Canada
By rethinking their purpose and direction with us, this Ottawa school improved the experience of every student and increased engagement with the whole community.
OJCS is dedicated to enriching the lives of its students by focussing on their strength of character, inspiring them with Jewish values, history and heritage, and encouraging them to become global citizens making a contribution for the greater good. Undertaking a redefinition of the school and its direction, while staying true to its beliefs and traditions, was a process that required collaboration and fresh insight.
Working with a dedicated design team of parents, teachers, school leaders and board
members, NoTosh facilitated the creation of six concrete, concise and jargon-free
‘North Stars’, developed through a process of gathering and synthesising hundreds of
insights, interviews and observations from the whole school community. Using a
‘Project Nest’ – a highly visible and accessible physical space where everyone could
contribute their thoughts and opinions – was critical.
“"We redefined our community's purpose... To say the partnership was a resounding success would be an understatement.” Jon Mitzmacher, Head of School.
The six North Stars are now evident all around the school, in Hebrew, English and French, and each is used to drive and inspire the school community, guide decision making and provide a collaborative and common language. A second phase of work – ‘Strategic Storytelling’ – used data gathered from the first phase to identify key strategic needs and craft projects around them, while a third phase saw NoTosh coaching the leadership team to build capacity and sustain and continue the school’s journey of change, as facilitators, provocateurs, story-finders and storytellers.
“The process was really inspirational. It taught me a lot about focussing more on process and making sure we understand why we’re doing certain things, that we have input from all stakeholders – especially our students – and that we can’t just be focussed on the product.” Grade 6/7/8 Social Studies Teachers & Student Life Coordinator
“The kids are now always motivated and so engaged in their learning. Even kids
who had trouble focussing during normal lessons are now begging me to stay in for
recess. I just wasn’t used to that and thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’”
Grade 3/4 General Studies Teacher