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Mission statement empowers others

We like the Denton school district’s new mission statement, but we were even more impressed by the process used to develop it.

The mission is stated in 17 words: “Denton ISD: Empowering lifelong learners to be engaged citizens who positively impact their local and global community.”

That has a nice ring to it, but words alone aren’t enough. It’s easy to draft a slogan or motto that sounds good — any decent wordsmith can do it — but the statement has to be backed with meaning to really count.

In this case, we believe the words do have significant meaning.

The statement was created by the district’s Project Educational Improvement Council — a group of district staff, parents, community and business leaders formed last spring to revamp the district mission, vision, values and goals and to redesign the district logo.

Chris Shade, the school district’s director of school improvement and support and chairman of the Project Educational Improvement Council, said people across the community were asked during the course of several months to provide input on why the district exists.

He said the council received a number of Facebook responses and more than 760 e-mails. In order to rebrand the district, Shade said, it was essential to engage the Denton learning community.

In the responses, nine words were most commonly used to identify the district — future, community, citizen, engage, empower, foster, lifelong, global and resilient — and committee members used those words to craft the new mission statement.

We’ve heard several comments about the final result, but a statement from Joe Ader, associate home groups pastor at The Village Church in Denton and a member on the educational improvement council, had perhaps the greatest impact.

Even though his church has partnered and worked with Calhoun Middle School for the last five years, Ader said, this is the first time he’s been asked “what do you think.”

This was a shift in the school district, Ader told us, and he’s been encouraged by the work he’s done in helping to create the district’s mission statement.

But Ader didn’t stop there. He went on to remind us that the most difficult part of the job is yet to come.

“I think we’re happy with where the mission statement came down, and now it’s the hard work of actually implementing that,” he said. “I’m just excited to see what’s next as far as creating values and goals and seeing that implemented across the school district.”

The district is to be congratulated for seeking input from the community and using that input to draft its new mission statement, but establishing more effective lines of communication between the district and community is only the first step.

Now, the district needs to build on its momentum by putting those words to work and making sure they retain their meaning over time.

As Ader said, that will be the tough part.