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Core Values Series: Pursue Academic Excellence

October 19, 2018
By Ann Steenwyk

Dear Parents and Friends of SCS,

Over the next few months, we’d like to draw your attention to SCS’s seven core values: pursue academic excellence, develop the Christian mind, cultivate spiritual growth, encourage Biblical self-image, build strong social bonds, involve the supporting community, and serve the greater community.  These core values define who we are and show others what is important to us. We want you, our community, to have a strong understanding of these core values so that you can share them with others when you tell our school story and invite others to learn about our school. These core values are not just words!  We want each person who steps through our school doors to authentically experience these core values.

We have “pursue academic excellence” listed first because we are a school first.  Academic excellence is essential for preparing our students for college and career readiness.  It starts at the preschool level and builds each year. We want our students to work to their utmost capabilities and to apply what they’ve learned to the world around them.  This year, as a whole school, our teachers are focusing on two significant factors that contribute to our pursuit of academic excellence.

First, we are aligning our curriculum with college and career ready standards and assessments, from kindergarten through 12th grade.  This work is beyond deciding what content to teach, but also considers what we want our students to know and be able to do. It also includes building quality assessments so that we can determine if students are on track or need more support to get to mastery.  Our curriculum leadership team will be supporting teachers in helping them to get to the highest levels of student learning in and outside of the classroom.

Second, we are beginning to look closely at our academic data to inform our instructional practices at the individual level, classroom level, and school level.  Data can tell us what we are doing well and what gaps might be occurring in learning. We have formed a data leadership team that will be meeting monthly to review our work, provide feedback to teachers, and support next steps. Although our school was rated in the top 1% of schools in the state of Wisconsin in 2017-18, there is always room for improvement, and we want to improve our top rate status each year.  Data shows us our impact, and ultimately, the impact God’s work is doing in His world.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t consider the learner’s responsibility as we pursue academic excellence.  Each day, we are focusing on teaching students strong work ethic, respect in and outside of the classroom, and perseverance.  We encourage students to take risks and that it is acceptable to fail along the way, as long as learning is occurring. We want our students to take learning seriously, achieve to their best potential, and have the discipline to avoid mediocrity.  Through our Academic and Career Planning work with students, we are showing them the “why” of developing good study habits and personal goals.

All of this work to pursue academic excellence is really about honoring God’s gift to us - His children.  It’s our moral and spiritual responsibility to give them our best so they can be their very best for His world.  Join us in this important work by praying for our teachers and students each day!

In Christ,
Ann Steenwyk