As a Community Unified to Build the Success of our students, we have continued this school year to make it a priority to keep our Chaparral Mission Statement as the guidepost for all decisions regarding our teaching and the students’ learning. Our collective vision led to the development of our Mission Statement and provided direction for our School Site Council in the writing of our Single Plan for School Achievement (SPSA). This important vision is not just a matter of the staff, parents and community agreeing with a good idea, it is a mental image of what is important to us as individuals and as an organization. We envision Chaparral as a unified community dedicated to building an environment that promotes the development of the whole child as a successful individual through: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity.
In our unified community, we are all responsible for our actions, but the common good is placed on par with personal ambition. Our relationships will be described as caring, with the caring supported by open communication, made possible by trust. Communication and trust are two attributes of a unified community that we have all agreed through the past two years in parent and staff surveys that we wanted to further develop and strengthen here at Chaparral. Communicating effectively and trusting one another are the essential keys to building strong partnerships in our community.
Within this March message, it is important to begin the discussion of what it will mean for all of us to continue our focus on the learning and achievement of all students. For now, I would like to focus on the four C’s found in our Mission Statement – Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity – beginning with Communication and Collaboration. I believe that through effective communication and collaboration, we develop strong, respectful relationships that ultimately unify our school community.
This month, let’s all agree to instruct our students in communicating respectfully. This is one of the most important lessons we can teach children so that they make others feel respected and earn respect in return. The following are suggestions we implement in our classrooms that can be adapted at home: 1) Behave respectfully. Together, create rules that contain the word “respect.” For example, “Respect others by keeping your hands and feet to yourself” or “Respect property by putting clothes and toys away and by keeping our school clean as we pick up trash and take care of school property.” 2) Speak respectfully. Ask your child to rephrase requests that are not respectful. If he shouts, “I’m hungry!” you might say, “I’ll listen when you ask nicely.” 3) Disagree respectfully. Teach your child to share his opinion politely. For example, show him how you respect his choice of food while explaining your own: “Bananas are delicious, but I like strawberries better because they are so tangy and sweet.” Remind him that he won’t always agree with people – sometimes it’s OK to “agree to disagree.”
We work constantly to communicate our mission and to focus our efforts collectively to all members of our community, including our students. I am so proud to announce that our fifth-grade students have brought to me an addition they believe should be added to our mission: Compassion. Through their study of the strategies needed to become their best selves, they found that the character traits of kindness, fairness, tolerance, and respect led them to put themselves in each other’s shoes and become more compassionate people. They are preparing a presentation to advocate adding compassion to our mission, a fifth “C.” They will be presenting their idea to the staff, PFC, School Site Council and our school community. They have inspired me, and I am sure they are inspiring you.
I ask that you support them by discussing with your family what a compassionate person does. Discuss that a compassionate person recognizes diversity and celebrates the differences in each of us. They look for the good in others – understanding that we all make mistakes – and think about another person’s feelings before they say or do anything. Compassionate people recognize that each person’s feelings are important and even if they do not agree, understand that they need to be valued and accepted. The ability to put ourselves in someone’s shoes is no easy task but so very important. I look forward to joining with our students to add a fifth “C” of compassion to our mission and vision for Chaparral. How fitting that this wonderful idea came from our students, who are proving to be effective teachers as well.
Through our vision and mission process, classroom instruction, and strong family support, Chaparral staff, students and parents will continue to work together Compassionately to create an atmosphere of Collaboration, Communication and mutual respect. When we model these behaviors, our students see adults working together for the betterment of all at Chaparral.