Create the Vision

It is March and many parochial schools are beginning to plan and budget for the next school year. How will you make next year more successful?

Creating a vision is mental time travel. It is the process of mentally taking our current understanding of reality and propelling it forward in time (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc.). If you are the principal at a K – 8 school you might propel your school forward 9 years. That will tell you what your school will look like when the current kindergarteners graduate.

Some things in your vision changed.

The kindergarteners look at older. Are they more poised, confident, and thought filled?

The fourth grade teacher retired and has been replaced. Is the replacement more energetic? Is the replacement better at engaging students? Are the replacement’s students more creative? How has the replacement affected the school culture, the performance of the other teachers, and attitude of the parents?

There has been a complete turnover on the board. Is the board more engaged? Is the board more deliberative? Is the board better at planning and visioning?

The classrooms are fuller. Is there more diversity in the school? Are the parents more engaged? Is the reputation of the school stronger? Is the school only focused on academics and religious education or is there a new dimension to the programming?

What are all of the things that disappeared from your vision? It is easy to imagine all of the conflict and concern about money and student retention are missing from your vision. What else was eliminated? What did you keep because it never should change (religious identity, family friendly atmosphere, etc.)?

Your vision for your school is more than a dream. It is on the verge of happening. Your vision of what the replacement teacher looks like is now your hiring guide. Your vision of the kindergarteners at graduation is the foundation for your program planning. You vision for your board is now your recruiting, board education, and board leadership development outline. Your fuller classrooms, financial stability, and long-term sustainability are the rewards you will receive for creating the plans that translate your vision into a reality that changed lives, actualized student potential, shaped families, and changed your community.

Next Step:

Pause and write down your vision for your Christian school when your current kindergarteners or freshmen graduate

Pause again and write down the differences between today and your vision

Separate the major areas that are affected by your vision (graduates, parents, board, teachers, programming, etc.)

Identify the steps that will transform each major area from today into your desired tomorrow

Ask your staff, board, and donors to help you refine and implement your new strategic plan

Alternatively, you can use the five preceding steps as the basis for an organizational retreat (staff, major donors, and board).

However you do it, you will have created a great strategic plan. Your mission will be stronger and you will have energized everyone on your team. The increase in the level of hope and optimism will be measurable. You will also have a great foundation for the upcoming budget talks.


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