Educating for Life -- it starts with vision, mission, and values
In a time when education is facing extraordinary challenges and the global workforce is trying to figure out what "normalcy" will look like in their organizations and within their staff culture, the team at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School has taken an intentional "reset" this school year. A reset for us, and ultimately for our students.
This reset began with a deep dive into our fourth strategic plan where we listened to the changing world around us and enhanced our current vision of preparing college graduated leaders with the addition of also contributing to an equitable workforce. We validated our mission. And we turned to our values and the SNDdeN Hallmarks as our guide to how we will perform our actions in our every day.
Through this work, core culture became one of three main objectives within our strategic plan. We unpacked why we serve, who we want to be to our students, and how we will educate them for life through faith, academic rigor, and workforce development. The process we engaged in was thought-provoking, energizing, and validating.
Then we put this into action.
Our week-long orientation this year intentionally focused on our NDCR core culture. Validating our vision, mission, and values with one another, we were able to remind ourselves of our own personal why, and that of NDCR, and began the school year with a renewed sense of purpose for our mission, our students, and one another.
We changed language from "faculty and staff" to "educators" to emulate one inclusive team.
We included nametags for any teammate we knew could not be with us and left them on the tables each day so we could remind ourselves of everyone at NDCR who helps to make this ministry work.
We shared stories of how we personally and professionally embrace and demonstrate our values of the Goodness of God, Education for Life, Community, Respect, Integrity, and Family.
We discussed how each one of us, from the front office to the classroom to our Corporate Work Study sites, have committed to a ministry that not only sees four years ahead of our graduates, but rather a lifetime of learning, growing, and succeeding.
We invited educators from outside of our classroom walls -- the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (our sponsors and founders); the Cristo Rey Network (our network leader of 38 Cristo Rey High Schools throughout the country); our Board of Directors and our families -- to join our conversations.
We shared examples of how we can all support each other as educators by demonstrating specific behaviors that we would like our students to learn from -- such as recycling, picking up trash on campus, saying good morning with a smile every morning, sharing our gratitude towards one another and common messaging.
We intentionally sat at different tables each day so we could get to know someone new. We were transparent about the upcoming realities of the school and the realities of our students. We shared mission moments as a team.
We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together.
We celebrated that 100 percent of our students have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities since our first graduating class. We shared that NDCR alumni are graduating college at impressive rates. And we celebrated having six Cristo Rey alumni on the team -- four from NDCR and two graduates from other Cristo Rey schools.
We also reminded ourselves of the challenges we have had: more tuition assistance needed for our students and their families, increased operating expenses for our new campus, and the difficulties we face in finding jobs for students' Corporate Work Study placements. And with the additional struggles our students face emotionally and socially in this time in our history, we know we need to do even more to understand and support our students.
The good news is, more support for our students is something we can control by our decision to reset, relearn, and renew our commitment to each other as educators and to our commitment to maintaining a strong core culture -- for us and for them. And it's working.
We are all incredibly proud to be part of NDCR's family of educators and we are even more grateful for the opportunity to be educating these amazing students for life. Thank you for being with us on our journey!
REBECCA TWITCHELL IS THE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR (RTWITCHELL@NDCRHS.ORG OR 201-334-7134) AT NOTRE DAME CRISTO REY HIGH SCHOOL IN METHUEN, MA, A HIGH SCHOOL THAT PROVIDES A CATHOLIC, AFFORDABLE, CULTURALLY SENSITIVE, COLLEGE PREPARATORY EDUCATION ENHANCED BY PROFESSIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE FOR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WITH LIMITED INCOME.