Giant post-it notes decorate the middle school library with colorful drawings and inspirational phrases. One poster depicts an ocean scene with a three-dimensional pyramid and a headline that reads, “SCSD Nurtures the Mind, Body and Spirit.”
Below the headlines is written “Whole Child —> Whole Heart. Support Systems, Re-imagined Learning Spaces, Personal Growth.”
The creations are the result of small group conversations among curriculum leaders after they spent an afternoon discussing the Somers Central School District’s strengths, opportunities, and aspirations. Each group created a “headline” describing opportunities for the future of SCSD, as well as sub-headlines and an illustrative image.
This fall, district leaders, teachers, students, parents, and community members are gathering in these small groups to voice and design what they hope will be the district’s guiding principles for the near future.
“We are revisiting our mission, vision, and collective commitments to make sure our guiding principles are still in line with our priorities,” says Superintendent Raymond H. Blanch. “This exercise helps us frame and illustrate our most preferred future.”
The discussions are taking place using the SOAR framework, which stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, & Results. SOAR takes appreciative inquiry and applies it to provide a strategic thinking and conversation process. Eventually, the results of the process will be distilled to reveal common themes among the groups. Those guiding principles will be shared with the Board of Education in December to help adjust our mission, vision, and collective commitments, which inform how we set goals and priorities for the coming school years.