This last system was an interesting one to find. As I’ve said in my “3 leads to 4 leads to 5” theory, the 3 elements of the system are easy to find, and the fourth is somehow related to all three. Last week’s article showed that TEACH, the 4th system, makes the school a learning institution, since all constituents that are connected to it are educated by it. Learning takes place in the school, so that learners can be SIGNS to the world, and educating alumni, businesses and community members about the achievements and successes of the school, continuing to deepen the engagement relationship between the school and these constituent groups, is grounded in education. After all, marketing is education, and marketing ties all the other elements of Advancement together.
TEACH refers to “who” makes up the school; FACTS refers to “what” the school does; SIGNS refers to “why” the school exists; and DREAM refers to “how” the school can advance its mission. The final element has to deal with the school’s vision, referring to “where” the school is going. Since vision figures prominently in creating the 5th system, I had considered SIGHT to be the acronym, finding 5 elements which comprised the system. But for faith-based schools, perhaps the acronym shouldn’t be SIGHT, since, as the song states, “We walk by faith, and not by sight.” Therefore, here are the elements that comprise this system, using the acronym, FAITH:
Formation of Community – The safe and caring community of the school is essential to the school’s continued existence. While that may be a little difficult to comprehend at first reading and sound a bit redundant, consider those schools which may be a community of students and teachers, such as higher education institutions, but do not have the engaged and active parent community that supports the school by cooking in the cafeteria, volunteering in the office, chaperoning the field trips or making the scenery and props for the school’s musical production. While community is essential to Retention as described in the DREAM system, it’s the “formation” of community that’s important here. Community doesn’t just happen, it takes specific actions to keep it together.
Action – The school doesn’t just “happen” either. Education is not passive. If creative ideas are generated and not acted upon, then they simply remain ideas rather than improvements or innovations.
Integrity – Integrity has been defined as “Doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.” Others have said it’s “Saying what you mean, and meaning what you say.” It’s trusting and respecting every individual associated with the organization, since, especially in a faith-based school, we are all branches connected to the one vine.
Truth – A common phrase I’ve seen on bulletin boards in schools remind students to “THINK” before the speak. THINK are the first letters of the five qualities their words should have. Are they true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind? Also, recall the words of John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the light.” Untruths have no place in our schools, which allows the fostering of a community of trust.
Hope – It’s not just simply one of the three things that last. We are a people of hope. The vision for the school must be a hopeful one as it will then be inspiring to all constituent groups.
The vision is community-oriented. It’s not just me. It’s not just you. It’s all of “us,” together. Bringing the vision to fruition requires acting as a community with integrity and honesty in a spirit of hopefulness.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2012-2016