Dear School Principals,
Claim your power to build great schools– communities where your children, the hopes of this country, will be formed and nurtured.
I say this because I know that many school principals are required to display the mission-vision-values statements at the school facade.
But how many of them can recite the mission-vision-values statements?
I surveyed school principals and asked them about the vision of their schools.
Five of a hundred can explain to me their missions and visions. Others say that they did not memorize them.
They were not required to memorize. But as leaders, we expect them to have full understanding. Because one way to build great schools is to have an inspiring, inclusive, and engaging vision.
Continue reading. You can use what I have to say about vision in enrolling the support of your teachers, parents, and students.
You need a picture of the future.
Please read your vision statement.
Do you see the big picture?
Can you imagine it?
From your Vision Statements can you see your Great School?
What kind of students do you have?
How committed and equipped are your teachers and school leaders?
Have you involved parents, barangay captain, mayors, and your community?
Are you excited and inspired to make that vision real?
Simple questions that need clear answers.
Your Vision Bridges You to Your Destiny
I have seen the power of vision in the lives of people I met.
My study of world history educated me that “throughout the past centuries there were men who took the first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.”
I am reminded of teachers who said that their students cannot make it in life because they are poor.
But poverty has always been here. And history has shown us that it is not poverty that has been preventing us to reach our goal.
I am now reminded of that beautiful girl who grew up in a palace as a kitchen staff. But unlike the rest, she has vision. Her ultimate goal is to regain her family’s honor, and clear the names of her parents.
Every night, forty percent of Filipino TV viewers were watching her life story.
This girl was first trained to work as a palace kitchen servant. She worked hard to learn the skills needed to become Chief of Kitchen.
She excelled under the strict mentorship of Lady Han (who unbeknownst to her happened to be her mother’s best friend).
But life was not meant to be easy for this girl.
Her mentor Lady Han competed with Lady Choi to become the Chief of Kitchen.
Lady Choi together with her niece Keum-Young, made life miserable for this girl since she was so skillful and was helping her mentor get promoted.
Very much like how some people work in our country, Lady Choi wouldn’t allow Lady Han get the post of Chief of the Kitchen. Her brother supplied the needs of the palace. And again, like how some our politicians worked, they overpriced all the supplies.
Let me cut the story short.
She was framed up together with Lady Han. They were accused of attempting to kill the king. She was imprisoned, punished, and banished from the palace. She bounced back and became the greatest and the first lady doctor of Korea.
Her name was Jang Geum of the Koreanovela Jewel in the Palace.
Vision is not something you plastered at the facade of your school building. It is not something written in the school manual, or a mantra recited by leaders.
Vision is that place or state of being that your heart longs for.
I realized that Jang Geum did not really intend to be the Chief of the Kitchen. That was the dream of her mother for her. She worked hard to make the dream of her beloved mother happen.
Before she accepted the role of a doctor, she asked the king that she be made the Chief of the Kitchen for a day. When she had already fulfilled her mother’s vision, she fulfilled hers.
Everytime she cooked, she was not only after the taste or the presentation of the food. She was after the health of people. She was a doctor even before the title was bestowed on her.
Visions are written in the heart.
From that story of Jang Geum, we can also understand the characteristics of vision: has no limits, a stretch, positive, better than before, shared, and owned.
Vision has no limits.
God has given us the capacity to see great things.
But along the way, narrow-minded people will try to dictate what we cannot do.
This reminds me of what Spud Webb said in one shoe brand commercial.
Spud Webb was a very quick guard who, despite his height, played 12 seasons in the NBA and became famous for his spectacular ball-handling skills, his jumping ability and his incredible dunks!
In the commercial he said that he did not allow people to tell him what he cannot do. He showed them what he can do.
But sometimes people around us set our limits. And many of us allow them.
How many times have we heard of parents who tell their children,”you cannot go to college because we are poor”.
Why is that wrong?
That is wrong because we know of parents who sent their 12 children to school and had them all finished college.
That is wrong because we know of people who came from the most miserable circumstances, like being orphaned at the age of ten with five other siblings to feed, and who now manage their own companies.
We know that that is wrong because many of us have proven that poverty is not a hindrance to a desired life.
Tradition cannot limit our vision.
Some people think that building great schools cannot be done in a third world country like the Philippines.
All great things in the world had not been done before until a crazy soul said it can be done, and worked for it, and made it happened.
Some people are leaving this country because they believde that we have no hope.
That is not true.
They didn’t see the vision of beautiful tomorrow in this country. What they lack is not only the love for this country. They are blinded by their disbelief.
When people say that this country has no hope, look into the eyes of your children.
You will find infinite doses of hope.
According to Henri Matisse, there is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.
I think the same is true with building a great school. We have to first forget all the “have been there, done that” way of thinking and create a new one.
Vision is a stretch, and something bigger and better than before.
Sometimes, vision is expressed, sometimes not.
When JFK said that man will land on the moon before the end of the decade (70’s), he was expressing something that was beyond the expectations of many.
Some people might think we are insane for dreaming big. But it is more insane not to.
Dream big. Yes! And let us dream ten times bigger.
Let us clean the cobweb of doubts in our mind.
Vision is positive.
This is not so obvious.
Because if you are reading newspapers everyday, you will know that we always expect the worst for this country.
No thanks to our politicians.
I wonder what kind of vision our children will develop every time we talked about corruption in government.
I don’t mean that we should play blind to every anomalies in the government. I simply mean that we should not lose sight of the positive vision.
From where I stand, I know that we can all contribute to the positive future when we build positive vision in our homes, our school, and our barangay. We cannot simply let our politicians decide for our future.
We are also leaders.
And we can create the pocket of greatness in every home, in every school, in every barangay.
To visualize the worst is not vision; it is masochism.
Do you want to know my positive vision?
Here it is: I see that you will continue your commitment to the education of the young, and you will work for the beautiful tomorrow.
Do you like that vision? I share your vision.
That is why we have barangay officials, the parents, teachers, and principals.
In the past, we thought that the success of an organizations depend on “visionary leaders”.
But visionary leaders know that nothing can be successful unless a vision, that picture of beautiful, bigger, and better tomorrow is shared and supported. That is why they made sure that we understand the pictures they painted.
But a school of today to be truly great must not depend on the mind of one district supervisor or school principal. Everyone’s future is involved here– yes, our future and our children’s future! Therefore, it is important that when we revisit or craft our school vision, we must involve everyone, most especially our students.
So, they too, will own the great school vision.
Vision is owned.
We are seldom happy with a vision dictated on us by others. Unless we own a vision, we cannot pour our heart into it. A vision is not something that a principal should start writing one day only because she was told by DepEd to submit one.
You need to sit down, involve all the stakeholders, and craft a vision that you can all say you own.
Don’t trouble yourself with the right words. Many well-written visions sound good only to those consultants who wrote them, but have no meaning to the people who are supposed to make them happen.
A vision statement you owned always sounds better.
Believe me, miracles happen when we work together to create the picture of better tomorrow. Vision will give you the impulse to make the picture your own.
Let’s reimagine our schools. Let’s build great schools.
Jef “the dreamer” Menguin
P.S. I like to speak to others who must also build great schools.
First to parents out there.
What are your visions for your children? Do you want them to study in a school where four students have to take turn using one textbook? Have you envisioned to send them to a school with a library without books?
What kind of lessons do you want them to learn from you, from their teachers, from your community?
Do you want them to learn independence, self-reliance, love of country, and care for humanity?
Have you told your kids that the only wealth you can provide them is education? What kind of education are we providing them?
Next, to our barangay officials.
What are your visions for your community?
I believe you all have been to school too.
And you have children too.
Do you like the picture we have now?
What kind of future awaits your community under your leadership?
To our teachers, what are your visions for your pupils?
Five years from now, do you still see 70 of them squeezing their bodies in that one small room?
You are with them every day, do you like the picture we are building inside their impressionable minds?
When was the last time you asked them this question,”What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And for everyone of us.
What do you want your school to be five years from now?
Let us think for a moment…. Do you want your school to develop creative, and globally competitive students?
Do you want them to have committed, passionate, and highly qualified teachers? Do you desire that you have supportive LGUs and that you live in a healthy and happy environment?
Do you want children to have the best in the world?
Keep on dreaming. Some people say,”walang bayad ang mangarap.” That is not true. Dreaming is expensive. With dreaming comes risks.
Think of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Victor Frankl, and our own Jose Rizal. Think of those people who committed their lives to their dreams. Yes, from them you will know that dreams are expensive. You have to invest your life to a dream.
Think of Helen Keller despite the odds went to school, authored books, and devoted her life to learning and inspiring people. She was blind. She was deaf. And she had vision.
We will pay the price.
When you dream nothing, you get nothing. Because you reached this far, I believe we are all to something. Big. Positive. Better. And beautiful.
Build our Great Schools.