Message from the Superintendent
A New Vision and Mission for PUSD
- “To create a better everyday life for many people.” – IKEA
- “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” – Microsoft
- “To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.” – JetBlue
- “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” –Tesla
Some of the world’s most successful companies start with a grand vision statement like the ones listed above. Part of their success lies in their strong values, which are embraced by their employees and the customers they serve. With these vision statements as their guide, these organizations aim high, dream big, and achieve great things.
At the Poway Unified School District, we have a long history of excellence which has motivated people to buy homes in our neighborhoods, students to attend our schools, and staff to apply for jobs to work here. When I first came here as Superintendent in April of 2017, Poway Unified was doing a good job of meeting its vision of “college and career readiness for all students.” The college/career indicator, as measured by the California Department of Education, shows that in 2018, 71.2% of PUSD students were prepared for college and career, compared to 42.2% of students across the state. And 95.2% of PUSD students graduated from high school, compared to 83.5% of students across the state.
As a new leadership team, we made intentional efforts to visit and observe all of our sites and departments with the goal of learning, listening, and leading. We engaged in multiple community and school stakeholder conversations whereby we identified a need to move the District forward to the next level of innovation and achievement. There is much more work occurring at our schools and in our classrooms than just college and career readiness. When we surveyed our stakeholders, you shared the following as some of the most important things to focus on in our schools: social-emotional learning, physical and mental health, safety and inclusion, well-rounded and balanced student experiences, and future-ready life skills. As a result, PUSD’s former vision and mission statements no longer accurately reflected the depth and breadth of our work as educators in PUSD, nor the ever-changing, global society that our graduates are preparing for.
Last month, District leadership and the Board of Education engaged in a deep discussion around PUSD’s goals and desires for its students, which led to the development of our new vision and mission statements. They were adopted at the September 12th Board Meeting. A strong vision statement provides the direction and describes what the organization hopes to achieve in the future. It sets the big picture and is both inspiring and challenging so that it guides the work of every employee. PUSD’s new vision statement is: “to create culture and conditions to empower world-class learners.” This vision statement considers the wider impact that we hope to have on the world through our students and allows us the room to explore and develop innovative practices and experiences that support our students’ success.
A mission statement is the plan that describes whom we serve, what we do, and how we do it. It is a short summary of our current focus and tangible goals. PUSD’s new mission statement is: “inspiring passion and preparing every student to thrive in college, career, and life by providing personalized, rich, and rigorous learning experiences.” Our mission statement builds on and expands on the work that Poway Unified has already been doing so well, moving from college and career readiness to thriving in college, career, and life. Our new mission statement acknowledges the work we are doing now and moving forward.
Together, these two statements unify the efforts of everyone involved with our school district: community partners, businesses, parents, staff, and students. As I told our employees during our back-to-school kick off: no one in Poway Unified does this work in isolation. We can all help promote changes that benefit all of our students. In everything we do, the question we all need to ask ourselves is, “What responsibility do I have in my day to day work and interactions in creating culture and conditions to empower our world class learners?” We can start with small, simple changes because an engaged student is an empowered student. Saying hello while passing a student in the hallway is an opportunity to let them know that someone cares about them. Making the effort to learn students’ names as they board the bus every morning lets them know someone notices them. Taking the time to find out why a student is having an “off” day lets them know someone is listening. Mentoring a student and encouraging their curiosity sparks their passion for learning. Together, we can move our District towards maximizing each and every student’s potential for greatness.
Marian Kim Phelps, Ed.D.
Poway Unified School District