On January 17, 2019, the MSS Board of Trustees adopted a revised mission statement. Abby Choi, the Director of School Initiatives and Improvement, led the five-month process of review and revision. Here she answers questions about the development of the statement.
Why update the mission statement?
Last fall we began to implement our five-year strategic plan. One of the first goals was to consider a mission re-word, a significant and challenging undertaking. After all, a mission statement is foundational, a guide that directs decisions and programs. The job at hand was to write a statement that maintains the heart of Mustard Seed School and updates how we articulate who we are and what we do for today’s audiences.
What was the process of reviewing/updating the mission statement?
It was a long and thoughtful process! I can’t even quantify the number of people hours because there were so many. We began with sending out a survey to parents, staff, board members, alumni, and community members about our current mission statement. You told us what you liked and what you would like to see changed and why.
Next, the staff participated in a brief brainstorming session, and small focus groups formed to provide additional input. Drafting began at a full-day Saturday meeting attended by the Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees. Then for several months we continued drafting, seeking feedback, and drafting again. At each juncture, the Leadership Team, Board of Trustees, and marketing professionals called us to refine and rework. We agonized over word choices. We debated passionately. We were all-in. I think that the hard work really paid off.
What makes a good mission statement?
Great question. We did quite a bit of research and settled on criteria set out by Top Nonprofits and Schooling by Design. A good mission statement states the school’s reason for being. It engages the audience immediately. It says what we do and who we do it for. It guides decisions. And it’s simple to read and remember: ideally, a mission statement should be fewer than 30 words and written at an eighth grade reading level. These are just a few of the requirements against which we measured our revised statement.
Who decides what the mission statement should be?
At Mustard Seed School, the Board of Trustees is responsible for upholding the mission. Therefore, the decision of what the mission statement should be rests with them. They adopted this updated mission statement by a vote on January 17.
The new MSS mission statement comes with a set of Core Commitments and a motto. Can you tell us more about that?
As we generated ideas about the mission statement, we realized that we wanted to say more about our community than can be told in fewer than 30 words. Our solution was to create a set of Core Commitments that expand upon who we are and what we do. We also created a motto that we can use on marketing materials and social media. The Core Commitments and the motto were adopted by the board as well. As such, they can only be changed by a board vote.
Throughout this process, I’ve seen that we have a deep love and fierce commitment to Mustard Seed School. I’m excited to launch this revised statement and see it yield fruit. At the same time, we should celebrate the previous mission statement and those who labored over it when it was written in 1989. It’s served us well for more than 30 years!
Revised mission statement:
Mustard Seed School teaches each child to know and care for their community and world. Together we inspire minds, cultivate hearts, and remove barriers.
We educate the whole child
We are committed to the highest quality of education through academics, arts, faith, and service.
We are a learning community. We build classroom communities where students understand that they live lives of meaning and purpose. We nurture connection, curiosity, and risk-taking. Learning together is full of joy and beauty.
We believe in creating unity as we embrace diversity. By engaging with our differences, we teach our students to genuinely know themselves, their neighbors, and the world.
Our students become compassionate advocates who care for their communities and world.
We are rooted in the Christian faith
Mustard Seed is a Christian school that welcomes families of all faiths and backgrounds.
We gather for community worship daily and see each child as a beloved child of God. We teach our students that all are loved and valued.
Together we care for God’s world.
We remove barriers
We provide equitable access to excellent education.
We remove financial barriers. We serve students from across the socio-economic spectrum. We especially welcome those with the least.
We remove barriers to learning. Teachers work to engage diverse learners. We celebrate each child’s gifts and support each child’s challenges to develop understanding.