Guest post by Head of School Monique DeVane, adapted from an article written for our bi-annual community magazine, PrepTimes.
Finding words that capture the essence of a school is complex. At College Prep, a place full of people who both love and are very particular about language, the challenge of writing a meaningful mission statement is that much greater. Our aspirations for our students are high and can sound idealistic, even as the earnest, earthy, lively, and awkward natures of our charges ground us. It is hard to come up with words that do justice to all that is College Prep!
Undaunted by the scope of this task, a group of alumni, parents, teachers, and trustees have worked diligently over the course of the last year to envision the school’s future path, starting with refreshing its Mission and Philosophy statement. This language, and the principles it represents, will guide us for the years to come. Here it is, in the voices of our students and faculty:
At College Prep we believe in the foundational importance of scholarship, the value of dialogue, and the need for academically curious young people to belong to a kind, creative, diverse, and joyful community. We challenge our students to engage deeply in learning, appreciate one another, and grow into adults who are intellectually adventurous, ethically sure-footed, and generous of heart and spirit.
Guided by Mens Conscia Recti, “a mind aware of what is right,” College Prep develops each student’s strengths and capacities through an education based on ten core beliefs.
1. We value the individuality of our community members and our egalitarian school culture.
2. We believe that high expectations, kindled curiosity, and dedicated effort encourage students to discern excellence and strive to do their best.
3. We affirm that deep learning requires patience, creativity, reflection, and practice.
4. We cultivate an awareness of self and others that is rooted in respect and empathy and emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s impact and actions.
5. We work in a collaborative environment that gives young people opportunities to take risks, express themselves, and appreciate the perspectives and gifts of others.
6. We embrace the variety of backgrounds and life experiences within our community and recognize that the rich expression of diversity is essential to a meaningful education.
7. We integrate work and play, helping students recognize the elements of a balanced life.
8. We foster an understanding of interdependence and stewardship that starts with care for our open-air Oakland campus and extends to our greater community.
9. We prepare students to make a positive difference, encouraging engagement in a full array of school activities, and in service and learning opportunities in the broader world.
10. We dedicate ourselves, as teachers and mentors, to our own ongoing development, modeling commitment to learning and growth.
I am excited by the invitation of this language. It asks us to continue to do what we have, for so long, done so well, while demanding that we also stretch ourselves. Like our students, we are called to reflect, to build on our strengths and to look outward to what will be asked of our graduates when they leave 6100 Broadway for college and beyond. And like our graduates, we will work toward the greater good of our broader community.
Words on a page are small details in the larger life of a school, yet the care that goes into crafting our words is part of a larger commitment we make to ensure that College Prep continues to offer an extraordinary high school experience. Our mission matters, because it expresses our commitment to our students and to the larger world. We will work diligently and collaboratively toward its best expression, relying on College Prep’s special knack for weaving the talents and gifts of so many individuals into a distinctive and inspiring larger whole.