What is the Purpose of Independent Schools?

by Ross Peters, Managing Partner.

At EXPLO Elevate, we have had a lot to say about strategy over the last few years.

Independent schools use the “s” word a lot, but somehow their use of it has often watered down its meaning – attach it to everything, and it will mean nothing. Talk about mission, vision, and strategy enough without finding the action verbs to breathe oxygen into them, and they will disappear quietly into the most obscure and faded threads of a school’s fabric.

Certain moments, however, call for us to invoke our missions… and our visions… and to invigorate the potential of strategy. In fact, these moments won’t countenance ignoring our most critical language. Such a moment can be called for within the context of a single school facing challenge or opportunity or even tragedy. At times though, the moment is an historical one that encompasses all schools. We have come through one such moment in the first three years of Covid-19, and I also believe we are steering into another as yet unnamed–though I am certain we could ask ChatGPT and get an answer in a few seconds!

The NAIS Annual Conference allows the opportunity to open the aperture regarding what we are doing in independent schools, and it is arriving right on time. With that in mind, on Friday of the conference at 11:00 a.m., John Gulla, Executive Director of the EE Ford Foundation, and I will be presenting and facilitating the beginning of a dialogue we are calling The Purpose Project. The title of the workshop is, “Proudly Proclaiming the Value of Independent Schools: Making a Unifying and Winning Case.” In short, like individual schools have a reason for being, our schools as a whole, as varied as they are, share a reason for being–a valuable one. Our aim is to have a conversation designed to discern the right language to assert that purpose and to center our shared work moving into the yet-to-be-named future.

Join the conversation!

The Purpose Project

An Invitation

Help us celebrate and clarify the purpose of independent schools for a new day.

As Independent Schools, we need to communicate our resonant and relevant purpose as a means of reinforcing the valuable work that takes place in our schools and of identifying ourselves accurately and compellingly for the next generation of communities, families, and students.

It is not enough for independent schools to be “defensible.” We must show that we are purposeful and necessary contributors to the lives of students and families, as well as our communities.

Through The Purpose Project, a partnership between John Gulla, Executive Director of the E. E. Ford Foundation, and Ross Peters, Managing Partner of EXPLO Elevate, participants will help develop language that makes this purpose explicit. The Project will also seek to examine and better articulate the purpose of independent schools, while embracing the vast diversity of independent schools who each seek under their mission statements to impact student experience for the better.

Join the conversation!