by Sonia Singh
Appointment letter in March
Here I was. Finally joining an IB school as the Primary School Principal! The letter brought with it
anxiety, excitement, and the zeal to make a difference. Along with these emotions came the following questions: What is the vision for a Principal? What are the values a Principal lives by? and – How does the Principal create a successful school culture with vision and values?
The Vision and Values of a Principal
The vision and values of a Principal serve as a guiding framework that outlines the
school’s long-term aspirations and fundamental beliefs. Both are essential in shaping
the school’s culture, educational approach, and overall direction. Together, my vision and values helped me plan a strategic roadmap for the school’s development and the foundation for building a strong, purpose-driven educational institution.
What is the vision for a Principal?
The IB schools have a clear vision and mission carved out in sync with the IB mission setting the ethos of the school philosophy. My school’s stakeholders, owners, teachers, students and parent community all lived and believed in the vision of the school. I started my journey as a Principal with a vision encompassing my aspirations for the institution, students, teachers and the entire school community. My first step was to include elements such as the type of learning
environment I wanted to create, the specific academic achievements I aimed to attain, and the
overall impact I wanted the school to have on students’ lives and society as a whole. Resonating with the school’s vision, my vision was clear and served as a guiding statement for the future – ‘Together we shape the future for a global and sustainable future.’
What are the values a Principal lives by?
Along with the vision, the values of a school principal are the core principles and beliefs that
underpin the school’s culture and guide its decision-making. These values reflect what the
school stands for and the moral compass that shapes its actions and interactions within the
community. My school holds high to the three values of empathy, resilience and integrity. As a Principal, embracing the school values of empathy, integrity and resilience has enabled me to foster a positive and cohesive environment where everyone feels respected, supported, and motivated to excel.
My vision emphasised the collective effort of the school community in nurturing students to
become empowered leaders with a deep understanding of global issues and a commitment to
making positive contributions to society. To work towards my vision, I began with a broad framework, selecting a few areas like involving the parent community in student learning as partners, exposing students to current events, encouraging students to voice their ideas for the betterment of the world and furthering progress towards the goal of creating a sustainable future.
What do successful visions do?
Nurturing Global Perspectives: As a Principal, I envisioned a school that embraced diverse
cultures and fosters an environment where students develop a profound appreciation for global perspectives. By valuing and celebrating our unique backgrounds, we cultivate an open-minded community that embraces the richness of different traditions, beliefs, and experiences. All local and global faiths and festivals are celebrated in school. We do not stop at just celebrations – students are encouraged to draw comparisons between different cultures and festivals thereby appreciating everyone to be different but yet one.
Instilling Social Responsibility: Together, we instil in our students a profound sense of social responsibility. Our curriculum integrates learning experiences that emphasize the importance of serving others, promoting sustainable practices, and addressing pressing global challenges.
Through these experiences, our students develop empathy and compassion for others, fuelling their drive to make a positive impact on the world. Various projects are initiated by students to contribute towards the bigger goal of a sustainable future thereby becoming socially responsible. Students run a zero food wastage drive in school, measuring and displaying the food wastage per day that could have fed a certain number of students. This instils in others a conscious reflection to take responsibility for their actions. The students also run a garbage segregation drive, no plastic bottles, no fast fashion week and many more simple projects to instil social responsibility.
Empowering Leadership: Empowering students to become confident and compassionate
leaders provides them with opportunities to lead initiatives, and engage in meaningful service-learning experiences. As these young leaders take charge of their
education and growth, they gain the skills and confidence to address complex global issues and
effect change on both a local and global level. Students as young as in the Primary school contest democratic elections to form the student council. As members of student councils, they begin their leadership skills thereby taking charge of encouraging and motivating others to work on global causes like water conservation, saving paper, improving hygienic conditions and much more.
Fostering Resilience: Creating a nurturing and supportive environment, fosters resilience in our students. We recognise that facing challenges is an essential part of personal growth. Learning for students is not just confined to the school campus but is taken out beyond the classroom walls. The students are exposed to life skills during their adventure experiential camps wherein they face hardships, away from the comforts of home, sometimes facing severe weather conditions, taking risks such as participating in adventure sports and also learning to face failures and challenges.
A Lifelong Love for Learning: As a principal, my vision is to create a school where learning is a
lifelong journey. We inspire a genuine passion for learning in our students and encourage them to inquire, explore, and seek knowledge beyond the classroom. By nurturing curious minds and critical thinkers, we prepare our students to embrace continuous learning and adapt to the dynamic global landscape. The students are given a chance to pursue their independent learning and inquiries, make decisions for various problem-solving situations and take ownership of conducting school events. Students have been involved in running independent inquiries about the Indian Chandrayaan-3 landing on the moon. As a community of lifelong learners, they witnessed its landing on the moon and took pride in its success.
Collaborative Community: Together, as a collaborative community of educators, students,
parents, and partners, we work hand-in-hand to realize our shared vision. The parents have a Parent School Group which is heavily involved in problem-solving and suggesting various ways to promote the school and student wellbeing. Parents support the social media platform of the school. Some support the nutritional value of the menu, and some give support and guidance concerning accounting and other aspects. By valuing open communication, mutual respect, and active engagement, we build a strong foundation for collective growth and success.
Impactful Global Connections: I endeavour to establish meaningful partnerships and
connections with organizations, institutions, and communities around the world. These
connections not only offer our students opportunities to engage in authentic cross-cultural
experiences and collaborative projects, but also broaden the teachers’ horizons and deepen
their understanding of the programme. Just 3 months into this new role, I am working on establishing this connection and promoting global connections between students, teachers and schools.
Showcasing Student Success Stories: We regularly highlight and celebrate students who exemplify the values of being internationally minded and socially responsible. Recognizing their
achievements and contributions has inspired others. As a school ethos, we recognise and celebrate student successes in the form of school scholarships, merit certificates and badges of honour. Over and above this, I plan to recognise and celebrate primary students as well with various celebrations like ‘Day of your choice’, or ‘Celebrate your day’ with snacks with the Principal, and many more exciting ways. I am hoping to get these ideas from the student body itself.
Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation: I also worked towards not just being a planner and
enforcer but also a critic and an assessor to regularly assess the school’s progress in achieving
the vision. I regularly take feedback from all stakeholders and use the data to refine
strategies and make improvements as needed. Some feedback I gathered directly was parent communication related and we introduced ways to keep parents abreast with student learning. Some other feedback I want to be working on is improving learning spaces for students, ensuring global exposure to students, building student resilience and developing a culture of empathy. The process is still underway and I am in talks with students, teachers and parents to have their thoughts, ideas and strategies to work towards achieving our school goals.
These elements should be communicated clearly and consistently to all members of the school
community to ensure a unified understanding and commitment to the school’s overarching
mission and principles. As the principal, it is my belief and constant endeavour to lead by example and empower others to uphold the vision and values, ensuring the school is better equipped to achieve its goals and create a nurturing and successful learning environment for all students.
Sonia Singh is the Primary School Principal at Sreenidhi International School, India
To connect with her on Linkedin, please click Here