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School Identity in a Modern World

By Elena Van Lare
School Identity in a Modern World

To maintain their identity in a modern world, schools challenge themselves to revisit their mission, vision, and strategic plans for the continued success of the institution itself. More importantly, schools revisit and reflect on their identity, how they have developed throughout the years, and where they see themselves going, to ensure the continued individual support and success of the child who passes through their doors each day. The International School Yangon (ISY), located in Myanmar and established in 1955, takes pride in maintaining the valued, educational traditions that began so long ago. Existing in a country that has experienced dynamic changes within the last 60 years, ISY recognizes the necessity to reflect on that which is necessary to remain the same because it benefits the current community, as well as that which must change to usher in the best possible opportunities for its students. ISY recently embarked on a journey that included answering questions in a fashion similar to the way we ask students to evaluate and critically analyze: to what extent do we inspire students to be global learners who are fulfilled, confident, and willing to give back to this ever-changing world? How is ISY defined as a school? What is the vision of the school for the years to come? ISY officials and teachers worked in collaboration with its Board of Trustees, outside consultants, community members, parents, and students to examine whether the mission and vision of the school fittingly applied to the school’s purpose in the same fashion as when it was first created. Interestingly, as the culmination of many meetings, long discussions, and workshops, ISY reestablished its guiding statements to support what are considered the most important concepts in educating children today. In addition to reestablishing the beliefs and ideals of the school’s guiding statements, and after introducing a new scholarship program for less fortunate students in the greater Yangon area, ISY has also committed itself to broadening its presence in the arena of service learning. In January, a guest speaker worked with school leaders, teachers, parents, and students on raising awareness on several global issues that require devoted awareness and assistance from today’s youth. ISY is committed to both fostering the collective engagement of its students in service learning while they are attending school and in encouraging them to pursue this commitment to service throughout their lives. With the help and guidance of John Littleford, from Littleford & Associates, ISY combined all of its recently completed reflection and re-direction. The school determined that for many teachers, parents, and students, the existing mission statement could do a better job articulating the school’s commitment. While dialogue continued among community members, ISY drew another conclusion about its vision; it was not clearly defined for all to understand, nor was it a separate statement that indicated direction. In November 2017, the creation of new guiding statements—to include a mission, vision, and tagline—was approved by the Board of Trustees. ISY celebrates hosting over 40 different nationalities this school year; the traditional ISY International Day, on February 17, 2018, served to launch the new guiding statements and tagline: ISY’s Mission: The International School Yangon is a community of compassionate global citizens. ISY’s Vision: We aim to develop lifelong learners who will be a force for positive change in the world. The new ISY tagline, “Global Learners, Lifelong Service,” expresses who the students of ISY are and what they have to offer, far beyond their graduation date.

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