Empowered together …

I’ve missed writing.  

Last year, as I dove headfirst into working to understand the International School of Krakow, come to terms with the GDPR, adjust to life in Europe, and work with the staff, Board, students, and community stakeholders on establishing our “Strategic Plan 2023.” I put writing my Blog on hold.  Now, it seems, it is time to get back to it.

I’ve been trying to determine where to best start.  With so much going on, I think the best place is with our new vision and logo.  I think it is important that we all understand the symbols built into the logo, and the weight of thought behind the simple two word statement.

Let’s start with the logo. There is a wealth of symbolism in its simplicity that I explain below in the image, but it all began with a simple challenge:

“How can we both honor our rich history and show how much we are focussed on the future?”   

ISK is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, and so we needed to recognize and reflect that history.  But we have also been working on the “What’s next?” for ISK and establishing clear plans for how to improve as a school, become stronger as a community, and ensure that our educational programs evolve with our rapidly changing world.  We are a progressive institution and we want to challenge ourselves in how we teach and learn.  So, we ended up with a modern take on ancient heraldry.

We knew these things, in part, because of the work we had done both through the accreditation work and in defining our new vision.  With the Board of Trustees, in March of 2017, we began constructing a vision statement.  Working with an outside consultant, we spent 2 days learning our roles, reviewing work that had been done on our strengths and needs, and trying to define our “North”  At the start of the 2017-2018 school year, myself and Nancy from the Board then met with groups of parents, staff and students to discuss it.  As each group liked it — but found issues with what we had written — it became obvious that we had work to do.  We hadn’t found our North yet.

Fortunately, some of our grade 11’s that year (our current Grade 12 class) had a project for the IB Business class and they wanted to look at our vision as well.  Working with them, we continued to solicit feedback from our community through surveys and interviews and the more we talked, the shorter and more focussed our statement became.  Each time we met, we felt we were getting closer.  

Finally, working with Jan and Raffi, we settled on two words we felt could guide our thinking over the next decade, which were then vetted by the administration and presented to the Board for their approval:

Empowered together …

This simple phrase encapsulated what we felt we had learned about our school and our stakeholders, both in terms of our strengths and in terms of our needs.  More than anything, the support our staff, students and parents feel and the togetherness of being a part of ISK permeated our discussions and our identity.  At the same time, we discovered an ongoing need to ensure that every member of our community be empowered to pursue his or her passions and meet the various challenges that will inevitably come in our rapidly changing, global world.  

Empowered together … It fits.  And we feel it can guide our decision making. 

Besides, it feels so very “Nike.”

What is proving to be very interesting is the question that naturally arises each time someone sees it: 

“Empowered together to do what?”

I love the question and I will leave it with you to find your answer.  For me it is empowered to lead our school forward and empower others in serving our students.  But for each of us the answer will be different, and that, I think is its magic and the basis for a lot of ongoing conversation.  

I look forward to it.

Dr. Robert Sims 

and, in case you wanted the history of our logos …

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