Colorado Academy adopts new Mission Statement

Colorado Academy:  

Creating curious, kind, courageous, and adventurous learners and leaders. 

Colorado Academy’s new Mission Statement is distinguished by its brevity—and its heart. It resonates even with CA’s younger students, which you will quickly learn if you ask Ms. McCoy’s Second Graders about the words in the Mission Statement. “They are some of the best words you can think of,” says Logan Adrian. 

Angie Crabtree, Principal of the Lower School, echoes Logan. “If we use those words as our guiding principles, imagine what the future looks like!” says Crabtree. “We can make a huge impact as adults, and our children will truly change the world.” (Watch a video highlighting the new Mission Statement and CA’s students.)

It takes a village to rewrite a Mission Statement 

Retooling a Mission Statement is not a task to be taken lightly for any organization. In the case of CA, it took a year—and a fair amount of curiosity, courage, kindness, and adventurousness. The process started on the first day faculty returned to school for professional meetings in August 2018. Head of School Dr. Mike Davis asked the entire faculty to break out into small groups and begin thinking about how they would craft a new Mission Statement. Immediately, the faculty contributed more than 100 keywords, written on sticky notes, including:  

  • Inclusive 
  • Passionate 
  • Kind 
  • Engaged 
  • Globally aware 
  • Safe 
  • Fun 
  • Courageous 

In a more formal setting, the faculty and staff met for a morning early in 2019, divided into small groups, and took on their individual assignments to write a new Mission Statement in various styles: as a tweet, a poem, a song, using magnetic words and letters on a board. With this exercise, faculty and staff had to distill what they did every day at CA into its purest form. 

CA’s Board of Trustees and Administrators also spent two sessions discussing, debating, and deliberating what form the new Mission Statement should take. They worked together to identify “must-have” ideas and to write supporting “Value Statements” to help the school focus on its goals. They debated the difference between “mission,” “vision,” and “motto.” CA wanted a Mission Statement simple enough that a Lower School student could memorize it. At the same time, the new Mission Statement needed to reflect the tradition and tenets of the school in the past, the present, and what it aspires to be in the future. In the latter regard, the Mission Statement could be considered a challenge, a “call to action,” prompting change.  CA also reached out to the entire CA community, past and present—some 5,000 people—to solicit feedback on a new Mission Statement. The final results incorporated ideas from the Board of Trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, grandparents of students, and parents of alumni—and it is only nine words long. 

“This was a highly collaborative process over a long period of time, with a goal of making the Mission Statement shorter and more direct,” says Davis. “With that many stakeholders weighing in, it would have been easy to end up with something long and unwieldy. And yet, because our community practiced our mission, we now have a Mission Statement that represents who we are and what we want to achieve.” 

 A Middle School perception of the Mission Statement 

Ask Eighth Grade students in Renee Medina’s Advisory what a Mission Statement is, and they will tell you in no uncertain terms. 

“A Mission Statement gives you the guidelines that the school lives by,” says Colin Love. “It’s the goals a school works toward,” adds Abby Colodny. “The Mission Statement is also the way the school presents itself to the public.” 

Ask those same students which of the words in the new statement are most important, and opinions diverge.  

Leaders: Leaders is the most important word. The world needs more leaders to solve problems and bring about change. Georgia Burstein 

Learners: It means that you are always progressing and trying new things, even if you make mistakes. Failure is an important part of getting better and learning. Colin Love 

Curious: You can’t learn unless you are curious. Ezra Wolkon 

Courageous: You need to be courageous to go on an adventure. Graham Neely 

Kind: Kindness is always doing the right thingEven if it’s a person you don’t know, you should be kind. Maddy Reeves 

Kind is the most important word because if people aren’t kind, then none of the other goals of the school can happenAvery Siegler  

Kindness creates a safe environment where you can be courageous, and adventurous, and curious. Colin Love 

A Lower School perception of the Mission Statement 

When you ask Second Grade students about the Mission Statement, you can see the beauty of its simplicity. They understand what it means and how it can be reflected in their daily lives. 

Curious: Curious is when you wonder about stuff. Colbie Manzo 

It’s when you think about new ways to learn and solve problems. Rohan Mrig 

It’s when you are curious to know how something works. Mackenzie Yi 

Courage: Being courageous means thinking of new things that people have never thought of and being the first to do something. Mia Brayton 

It means you are brave enough to jump off the diving board. Eli Sprick 

Adventurous: It’s when you go into the jungle or someplace you have never been and explore. Rohan Mrig 

Kind: If somebody forgot their backpack and you find it in the hall, you bring it to them. Logan Adrian 

If someone is hurt or has problems, you help them out. Alex Wall 

When you invite someone to play, you let them do what they want to do. Lilah Dennis 

You include people, because if you didn’t they would be sad. You do not treat people the wrong way. Liliana Richardson 

A “learner” is a person who “learns new things in math, reading, and writing,” says Nilaya Majmudar. And a “leader” is a person who “shows people what they are supposed to be doing,” adds Julia Books. Even these seven-year-old students understand what their school stands for and what it means for their daily lives 

An Upper School perspective 

As Seniors, Avery Lin and Lulu Geller will only be at CA for one year under the new Mission Statement. Still, it resonates for them, and both of them feel like the new Mission Statement fulfills one of their goals—to leave CA better than they found it. 

Avery Lin: What fuels us at CA are the values we have, and the values in this new Mission Statement are indicative of the fire that burns inside the CA seal. We are kind, nice people who do cool things and take classes that challenge us.  

Lulu Geller: Being at CA has allowed me to embrace my curiosity, not only academically, but also in the community. I also love the word “courage,” because courage is undervalued. It can be something as small as asking a question when you are nervous about speaking out in class or with a group.  

Lin: The mention of being “kind” is huge. We value excellence, and we work hard, but I think it’s the community of kindness and respect that makes us special, and it extends throughout every hallway, in every grade, from the head of school, to the faculty, to the students.  

Geller: In this Mission Statement, being “kind” is elevated to the same level as academics. That is so refreshing and speaks volumes about the type of community we want to cultivate. 

Lin: Making this our Mission Statement will bring like-minded people to CA. People will look at it and say, I want to go there because I value the same qualities. 

Geller: Any single one of those adjectives—I would be honored if someone called me those things. How great is it that a whole community will be driven by these words! 

Our Values

The second half of the Mission Statement lists eight values which act as pillars for CA’s mission. 

1.     We foster courage: exploring new challenges in academics, athletics, the arts, and experiential learning. 

2.     We nurture curiosity: the foundation of lifelong, creative discovery. 

3.     We choose kindness: engaging graciously in an inclusive, joyful community. 

4.     We encourage understanding: listening to others and acting ethically, with integrity and respect. 

5.     We embrace inclusivity: working through education to create empathy and compassion.  

6.     We promote habits of health, both physically and mentally, strengthening resilience and confidence. 

7.     We believe in a dynamic response to the needs of an ever-changing world. 

8.     We inspire thoughtful individuals who are ready to transform the future. 

Faculty viewpoints 

The faculty spent hours thrashing through the many options for a Mission Statement. So, what do they think of the outcome? We asked Upper School English teacher and Tenth Grade Dean Emily Perez and Middle School Science teacher Thanh Luong. 

Thanh LuongIt helps us to have this in writing, because it gives clarity and reminders of what we hope to achieve and the goals that all of us as a community are working toward. It is a cohesive vision for the entire community.  

Emily Perez: These values have always been a part of the CA community. In the Mission Statement, we have made explicit what was before implicit.  

Luong: I think the emphasis on being kind makes our school’s focus unique. The popular view of our society is that there is not enough kindness in the world, and we often fail to highlight examples of kindnessWe tend to think of kindness as just being nice, but taking action to help others realize they are being unkind, so they can grow from that experience, is an act of kindness in itself. 

PerezI am grateful that we included Value Statement Number 5: “We embrace inclusivity: working through education to create empathy and compassion.” As an English teacher, I use literature to teach empathy. For teachers, I think this is important to do both inside and outside the classroom in every discipline. 

 Luong: For me, the most important Value Statement is Number 4We encourage understanding: listening to others and acting ethically, with integrity and respect. If you follow that guide, you will be kind, curious, inclusive, live a healthful life, courageous, and adventurous. You will achieve everything. 

Perez: This statement is so easy to remember. Whenever you are faced with ethically difficult situations, you can look to the Mission Statement to see how your decisions align with our mission.


The final words 

For Angie Crabtree, who is in her first year at CA and had no involvement with the development of the Mission Statement, the words of the new Mission Statement “resonated in my heart.” 

“It gave me a sense of peace,” she says. “This is a school that gets it. If this is my mission, it makes my job easybecause we are not producing cookiecutter children. We are teaching individuals who will forge their own path.” 

In September, Crabtree watched as the excited (and nervous) Seniors were paired with their nervous (and excited) Kindergarten Buddies. That was the Mission Statement in action, she believesKind Seniors empowered curious and courageous Kindergartners, and the learning and leading began. “All those words came together in that moment,” she says. “CA had the courage to say the words and make this our mission.”