The following article was contributed by Kenneth J. Willers, principal at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley, CA
Mr. Kenneth Willers will be presenting, Mission & Message: How to Proclaim Your Mission by Creating an Annual Report, at the Institute for Catholic School Leaders (ICSL), July 16-19 in Waltham, MA (Archdiocese of Boston).
A charism is a living gift, a breath of the creator Spirit at the service of a dynamic history that is never simple repetition of the past. -The Holy Family of Bordeaux
A Catholic School’s Mission is ‘incarnated,’ so to speak, within the ‘message’ of a Faith Community’s charism and is brought to life when the story and the traditions of that community are intentionally celebrated and proclaimed.
The School of the Madeleine’s Advisory Board and Parent community took an innovative and bold ‘marketing’ step when they became convinced to start proclaiming the school’s Mission and to stop merely producing promotional materials. As a result of this vision the parent leadership brought to life the ‘story and the traditions’ of the Madeleine’s Catholic Mission and has attracted many new families to community.
How? By publishing an Annual Report that embodies the school’s Mission and Charism.
The argument might be raised that annual reports have been around for quite awhile and therefore not particularly innovative. Yet, the Annual Report, the Madeleine is modeling for Catholic Schools, is very innovative. In fact, the leadership of the Madeleine has been asked to provide seminars to other Dioceses and has even facilitated workshops for the national convention of the NCEA on how to create an Annual Report for Catholic elementary schools, modeled after the Annual Report created for the Madeleine.
Why? The Annual Report modeled here captures the Mission of Catholic education and encapsulates it into an educative message framed by a single school year. The Annual Report becomes the vehicle of proclamation, by highlighting how the school lived its Mission in the following areas: Catholic Identity, Founding Charism, Educational Significance, Parochial/Communal Service and Responsible Stewardship. The Annual Report, then, celebrates the school’s commitment to Catholic education and shares that message of success with all its stakeholders as well as potential enrolling families.
Each year the Mission of the school finds the best way to incarnate its message. The Madeleine empowers those who have been at the school the longest and who have experienced the Mission the deepest to be the ones to help create and fashion the symbol and theme—the students. As the eighth grade students entered into their final year, the class shared how they needed to grow and what they hoped to take with them as graduates. The symbol and theme they generated reminds them of, this, their year-long journey.
Now, when a family visits the school rather than leaving with ‘reams’ of promotional and informational documents, they leave with our beautiful Annual Report and customized flash drive (attached to a student created key chain) that contains all the forms and information needed to apply to the Madeleine electronically, if desired. More importantly, now all our visitors, family members, and stakeholders, as a result of our Annual Report, have the opportunity to carry, hold and embrace our Mission.
Yes, our Catholic School’s Mission is ‘incarnated,’ and brought to life because the story and the traditions of our Catholic School community are intentionally celebrated and proclaimed through the innovative process of creating and publishing our Annual Report.