Engaging Schools collaborates with educators to create school communities where each and every student develops the skills and mindsets needed to succeed and make positive contributions in school, work, and life.
There are three core values tied to every aspect of Engaging Schools’ programming: equity, community, and democracy. These values provide a foundation for helping students learn, and they support schools to carry out a meaningful instructional program, create a stimulating professional culture for staff, and foster a respectful and responsible student body. They are also fundamental to creating a better society and a more hopeful future.
These core values and associated beliefs are listed below.
- A commitment to educational equity begins with the belief that all young people can learn and that they all deserve a high-quality education. Schools should help to level the playing field of opportunity for young people in our society.
- Equitable schools are committed to fairness. They identify and eliminate biases and barriers that are related to race, ethnic origin, socioeconomic background, home language, gender, sexual orientation, religion, geographical location, and physical or mental abilities. These schools recognize, normalize, and value differences across and within groups and do not allow those differences to predict student outcomes.
- Equitable schools create access. They create high-quality educational experiences — from excellent instruction and resources to a comprehensive array of learning programs, supports, and opportunities — universally available to all students. Staff members communicate high expectations and provide high levels of support for each and every student.
- Equitable schools close gaps. They understand and actively work to eliminate gaps in school success between different groups of students, as measured by academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and preparation for college and other postsecondary pursuits.
- Equitable schools see themselves as professional learning communities. Leaders set expectations, create professional learning opportunities, and provide support so that all staff members are able to work together to ensure that each and every young person can succeed.
- Schools that create community welcome all individuals and help them learn to work together.
- Schools that create community are caring and personalized. They meet students’ needs for emotional and physical safety, belonging, and connection. Close, supportive relationships marked by meaningful connections between and among educators and students distinguish a caring school.
- In caring learning communities, educators use power ethically and collaboratively to address group and individual needs with respect, interest, and kindness. They also look at students in terms of their assets rather than their deficits.
- When administrators, teachers, and school staff members build a culture of caring, respect, and relational trust, students are more likely to demonstrate these attributes toward adults, their fellow students, and the community at large.
- It is a basic purpose of education to prepare young people to actively participate in our democratic society.
- Schools that educate for democracy encourage student voice, participation, leadership, and responsible decision-making, and they provide opportunities to make a positive difference.
- To participate effectively, students need skills such as appreciating differences, listening, problem solving, managing and resolving conflict, and interrupting bias. They also need to cultivate skills in the areas of empathy, caring, respect, and civility.
- Education should help young people develop a commitment to the well-being of others and the courage to act on one’s convictions.