Head of School Blog: Mission Imperative

One of the most iconic television show theme songs is from Mission Impossible. You know it.  “Dunt, dun . . . dunt, dunt, dunt, dunt . . . dunt, dunt, dunt, dunt . . . dunt, dunt, duuun.” You may already be humming along! Worthy missions, though, are not impossible; but they ought to be aspirational; and Falmouth Academy’s certainly is. Yes, most school mission statements can be a bit like burritos; that is, a little overstuffed, and in keeping with that tradition, ours is a bit of a mouthful!  

Harnessing the power of inspired learning in a world-renowned scientific and vibrant artistic community, Falmouth Academy emboldens each student to take creative and intellectual risks to confidently engage the challenges of our times.

But, like the best burritos, it is also chock full of wonderful ingredients and two of those ingredients, “harnessing the power . . . of a world-renowned scientific community” and “engaging the challenges of our times,” are the subject of this week’s post.  

As to the first ingredient, I am still looking back with pride and admiration at last Thursday’s Science and Engineering Fair, the staging of which is a labor-intensive undertaking unlike any other. Most of the heavy lifting was done by colleagues, leaving me with the rather cushy duty of playing the role of master of ceremonies. One of my duties was greeting and thanking over 100 volunteer judges in Morse Hall. In so doing, I noted that they were the very “world-renowned scientific community” we reference in our mission statement. Our kids raise their game at science fair for lots of reasons: they’re dressed up, it’s after school, it’s a competition. However, what really brings the best out of them is the knowledge that their work will be on display for and subject to the judgment of some of the most prominent scientists in the world. So I thanked our judges for letting us “harness their power!”

The other ingredient we considered last week was “confidently engaging the challenges of our times.” At last Friday’s Professional Development Day, I gave each faculty member three sticky notes on which I asked them to write a “challenge of our times.” We then stuck them to the walls and arranged common themes into groups.  At the top of the list were the growing environmental threats attributed to climate change, the increasingly complex relationship between human beings and their technology, the deterioration of civil discourse, and the fragmentation of once reliable institutions. Now “confidently engaging” that list is going to take some serious “emboldening!”

But at Falmouth Academy, we are up to the task. A good school - and we are a great school–keeps its mission statement front and center so that every decision, large and small, is filtered through its lens. That this school’s Head, not to mention administrators, teachers, parents, and students, walks under its mission statement everyday is a visible safeguard against the mission drift that plagues so many organizations.  

Mission impossible? No.  Mission Imperative? A resounding yes!

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