Thursday, August 19, 2010

A New Hope

There's a saying in sports that everyone is undefeated until the season starts. Teams are filled with optimism and enthusiasm about their upcoming years and just about every team has championship dreams until Opening Day, Night or Week 1. But, before a game is played, teams have hopes of grandeur; at that point, everyone's still undefeated.

This same holds true for the first day of school. Everyone has perfect attendance. Everyone has perfect behavior. No one has forgotten any homework. No one has left their math book at home. The first day of school is filled with hope. It is filled with expectation. It is filled with optimism. Pencils are freshly sharpened. Folders and notebooks are still crisp. Crayon boxes still have all colors. Teachers and students share a mutual respect. High expectations are also held in common-- teachers believe that all students will give their best efforts, and students believe the same of teachers.

Unlike the world of sports where only one team will emerge as the "champions", however, all students have the ability to achieve greatness. More than one student can win a "championship" when it comes to academic, behavioral and spiritual success. In fact, if the hope and optimism present on the first day of school can be maintained, all students can.

And therein lies the challenge: how do we sustain this momentum? How do we inspire students to continue to give their best effort despite some inevitable setbacks? With the many different challenges and obstacles present throughout the course of a year, how do we forge ahead and ensure that students are developmentally ready and prepared for the upcoming grade level? How do we do more than just teach to the middle and have only a percentage of our students experience success? How do we excel as individuals, as classes, as grade levels and as a Catholic School?

In order to achieve greatness, the Administration, Faculty, Students and Parents of Incarnation Catholic School must focus on the school's Mission Statement. We must continue to live up to and live out the goals set forth in these words:

Incarnation Catholic School continues our tradition of:

Inspiring life-long learners,
Challenging each individual to develop spiritually and
Striving to serve each other and the community

as we prepare students for the future.

We must be able to keep this larger vision clearly in sight regardless of what occurs during the daily grind. Daily recitation of our Mission Statement is a way that we can come to internalize its messages. Periodic review of our progress toward these objectives allows us to identify areas of strength, weakness and opportunities for growth. Community awareness of its words can help us to hold each other accountable to its high ideals.

We can maintain the momentum of the first day of school by focusing on our mission, our purpose, our reason for existing as a place of education. When we are mission-driven the small bumps and hiccups are just that-- small. They become surmountable. They become conquerable. They become stepping stones in our overall journey to accomplish our mission. Like the Emperor Hadrian said, Rome was not built in a day but "brick by brick, my citizens, brick by brick."

So, at the start of a new school year, let us relish in its excitement, anticipation and hope. Let us learn the words of our Mission Statement so that we have a firm understanding of where we are headed as an institution and why. Let us turn our efforts over to God, so that God can turn them into something good.

Every student can become a champion. Let us all do everything we can to make sure that at the end of this year, all of them are winners.