By: Michael C. Smith, Ed.D.
There is great power in setting goals. Even the word “goal” has the power to inspire us.
I played soccer from age five. When I hear “goal,” I see a ball hitting the back of a net and feel the endorphin rush of success. The US Women’s World Cup Team filled me with pure joy as they pressed toward their record fourth championship this past summer. I’m inspired when I watch a team execute years of practice in every little thing they do to achieve their ultimate objective.
We enter the new school year scoring big wins on many of our goals. We set the goal of meeting the needs of families better than we have in the past, and our retention rate increased from 79% to 86%. We set the goal of more effectively marketing our small, individually focused, strengths building school to our local community, and we increased the number of new students admitted to the school from 34 to 56 and counting. We set the goal of increasing diversity, and we have the most diverse staff and student body in the school’s history. Our overall enrollment has grown by close to 10% and investments in the school increased 67% in one year.
We’ve clearly improved our performance, and that effort paid off. Niche recently ranked us third in the state among Christian high schools and we ranked seventh among all private K-12 schools.
We celebrate these achievements and all the members of our community who contributed to these outcomes. As we start a new year, it’s time to recommit to our goals and to remind ourselves why we do this. Our verse for the year is Philippians 3:14:
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Our immediate goals are a means to a greater end. As psychiatrist Victor Frankl wrote, “success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.”
Our mission is to celebrate that each student is God’s creation, respond by developing students unique God-given abilities, and to live as transformational influences for God’s glory. That is our cause greater than ourselves. That is what our goals must serve. And we will only achieve our goals if we keep our ultimate mission front and center.
That championship soccer team we watched this summer was made of women who started playing as girls. While the victory is theirs, they could not achieve what they did without communities that taught, supported, challenged, and loved them. Strengthening our students’ ability to win the prize is our cause.
This year, our goals are self-study, designing plans for improvement, and casting a vision for the future of our school. Where are we on the path? Where exactly do we want to go? How will we strengthen students for their future – to be transformational influences for God’s glory?
I invite you to join us in these important discussions and decisions as we press on toward the goal to which we have been called. Our first All Community Meeting will be September 16. I hope to see you then.
Welcome to the new school year!