The board members of the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District approved a new mission statement on June 21, 2021. Putting a few new words on a page doesn’t change anything, but when those words reflect the intentions and goals of more than 200 employees, the parents of hundreds of students, and the entire community, those few words can make a big difference.
The new mission statement, “To be positive difference-makers,” reflects what has been an informal motto for school staff for several years.
Another feature of the new mission statement is that it recognizes the vital contribution of every staff member. “The former mission statement, which many people were never aware of, focused on acquiring and applying knowledge,” says Koeppen. “That mission statement left out the important contributions of staff members who aren’t teachers, whether that be counselors, cooks, office staff, or bus drivers. Each one of the adults working in our schools has an impact on kids every single day. It’s essential for our success that everyone stays focused on being difference makers in everything they do. Teachers aren’t always the first school employees students see in the morning or the last ones they see at the end of the day. If every staff member starts the day with encouraging words and ends the day with a smile, then every day begins and ends better for every student. Everyone working toward the same goal creates a bigger network of caring adults that students can learn from and feel safe with.”
Koeppen says the school board and the district want to provide parents and the public with as much insight into the schools as possible. “Two of our recent initiatives to improve community awareness involve social media and video. We encourage staff to share photos, videos, and descriptions of what they do for students throughout the day, and we post that on the school’s social media platforms. Another is a short video about the schools that we hope will provide a visual reminder of the new mission statement.
“I believe that sharing through our social media platforms and the video, we are providing the community a chance to see the magic that goes on in schools. For our staff, I hope the video will be almost like holding up a mirror so they can see themselves doing amazing things for students. This past year was hard on everyone, and sometimes the daily grind can grind away at a person’s enthusiasm. But seeing a young girl raising her eyebrows as she discovers something in a book, a student high-fiving a teacher on the playground, or a high school student working hard to be a better athlete, everyone can see that we’re all focused on one thing – being positive difference makers.”