Following a yearlong review by a specially appointed committee of alumni, students, faculty, parents, community and Board members, Indian Springs’ Board of Governors has approved an updated mission statement to guide the school in strategic decision-making and to articulate Springs’ philosophy and core values:
Guided by our motto, Learning through Living, Indian Springs School fosters a love of learning and creativity, a sense of integrity and moral courage, and an ethic of participatory citizenship with respect for individuality and independent thought.
The statement, which went from 77 words to 37 words in length, maintains the heart of the school’s previous statement while also emphasizing two equally vital aspects of Indian Springs School culture: creativity, and respect for individuality and independent thought.
“These values, as we discussed in our Mission Review Committee meetings throughout the 2016-17 school year, help to define and differentiate us, and the Board believes that their inclusion adds depth and strength to Springs’ important mission,” says Planning Committee Chair Janet Perry Book P ’04, ’09, who led the ad hoc committee. “We also applaud committee members for thinking carefully about word choice and for recommending revisions that capture the essence of the previous statement while also making it easier to remember.”
Honoring the Past, Signaling the Future
Board member, alumnus, and Mission Review Committee member Rusty Rushton ’74 believes that the updated statement “honors past articulations of itself while leaning confidently toward the years and changes to come.”
“It was great getting input from several corners of the known world of Springs—current students and teachers, variously aged alumni, administrators—and reinforcing to discover what one might have supposed but couldn’t know for sure until the conversation got going: that Springs has held on to virtually the same core values over all these years,” he says.
“There were debates over what to specify versus what to leave general, but I think we all got to recognize, in each other’s lists of essential Springs traits, the same school as the one we’d each gone to, been hired by, or chosen for our children,” he adds.
For many committee members, the review process reflected those qualities that the newly revised statement affirms.
“When I was offered the chance to be on the committee, I was so excited,” says senior Liz Jones ’18. “We hoped to take a new look at what the mission statement portrayed about our core values. In the end we felt that we needed to update the statement to represent more accurately what Springs embodies: We are creative in the way we problem solve. We are independent in the way we time manage. We are all individuals and admire the differences and similarities among us. With the addition of these three qualities, our mission statement accurately represents who we are as a community, and I could not be more proud to have been a part of it.”
Who We Are
English teacher D’Anthony Allen feels that the review process signaled Springs’ desires “to be inclusive and intentional in creating spaces for dialogue and to be flexible in looking at ideas and terminology and the way that language reveals who we are presently and who we want to become.”
“It’s so unique to have Board members, teachers, alums, administrators, current students, and even future parents who happen to be Board members and alums—all these different levels of connectivity to the school—involved,” he says. “We all had a vested interest in preserving the intangibles of Springs but also in positioning ourselves to be attractive to new generations through the wording of the statement, which we hope will intrigue and entice them to want to know more about this place.”
The Board of Governors convened the Mission Review Committee in fall 2016 in accordance with National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) best practice guidelines, which encourage regular review to ensure that the mission statement is relevant and vital to the community it serves. Springs’ previous mission statement dates to fourth Director Mel MacKay’s tenure (2002-07).
“The passion, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail of our dedicated committee members ensured that the statement reflects a broad range of voices within our community and presents an eloquent, memorable assertion of who we are as a school,” says Board Chair Libby Pantazis. “Indian Springs’ mission informs all that we do, and the Board is excited to reaffirm its commitment to the important ideas that it articulates.”
“The mission statement is crucially operative for me,” says Head of School Dr. Sharon Howell. “I go back to it as a touchstone when making decisions to ensure that we are genuinely adhering to who we are and want to be. That's why it felt especially important to me to preserve our emphasis on participatory citizenship, independence, individuality, and courage, and to add a new emphasis on creativity."
For committee member Lawrence Katz ’82, the experience confirmed that new and longtime members of the Springs community share an affinity for the precepts of Springs’ mission statement. “It was through the lens of student and staff perspectives and our shared experiences that we were able to coalesce around the need to add the primacy of mutual respect for individual creativity, thought, and achievement. I for one am pleased with the result. It rings true today not only for our students, staff, and parents but also for those of us who must rely on now-distant memories of coming of age in this very special community.”
For English teacher and committee member Lauren Cole, the review process provided “a greater appreciation and awareness of the ‘Springs tradition.’” “I want to continue to honor these important traditions and core values as I work with today’s learners,” she says.
The updated statement has also created numerous teachable moments. Cole recently presented the revised statement to her 10th grade Critical Reading & Analytical Writing class and explained how the new statement was constructed.
“Students tend to think that good writing is some sort of instantaneous magic, when, in fact, it is a difficult process, even for people who are proficient writers,” she says. “Even for just one sentence: Each word is weighed and measured.”
Cole encouraged her students to start by considering the statement’s structure. “One thing I always stress with my students is understanding the relationship between form and function,” she says. “We examined how the statement was built, digging into the syntax and diction of the sentence.”
They then moved on to its meaning. “They discussed ways we see each of the ideas in the statement manifested on campus,” says Cole. “How, for instance, do we see a love of learning, or a sense of integrity and moral courage?
“We discussed what these ideas mean on a practical level, and ways we can encourage and promote these values on campus,” she says. “They liked that the statement is broad enough to apply to both students and faculty, and that we are all one community aspiring to these goals together.”