One of the distinctive characteristics of private independent schools is the ability for each school to define its mission and state it publicly. It is this mission that should play a key role in attracting and retaining families to the school. But does your school’s ethos match the mission statement? In other words, does your mission actually live throughout your school and does it truly define your school’s community? If so, then I would anticipate that the school is most likely delivering the educational experience that attracted and retains its families and is providing that experience very successfully.
In order to assess the degree to which a school’s ethos reflects its mission, all school constituencies are valuable pools for information. These include teachers, parents, students, alumni, administrators, trustees, etc.
Once these groups have been surveyed, look for the common themes that emerge. If there are distinct similarities, then there is likely to exist a strong ethos based on common beliefs about the school. If those common beliefs are aligned with the school’s mission, then that school has developed a strong mission based ethos. If there is disconnect between the mission and the school’s ethos, then there in lies an opportunity to either revisit the mission (by the trustees) or set goals and plan for realigning resources designed to focus on becoming more mission centered.