Visions to map out steps towards mission

Henry Vogel

President Rick Commons introduced six visions meant to fulfill the mission statement in the next three to five years at the annual faculty meeting Aug. 25.

“Mission is generational — we hope the new statement will last another 25 years,” Commons said. “Visions, in my mind and parlance here, are more specific ideas of how to fulfill the mission in the near term.”

Commons’ points were:

-The pursuit of excellence will remain a defining element of the Harvard-Westlake experience.

-Happiness and balance will become primary values in the Harvard-Westlake culture and in shaping the experience of students.

-Our commitment to inclusion will enable every member of our community to feel an equal sense of belonging.

-Faculty will nurture, inspire, and challenge all students through ongoing commitment to engaging pedagogy, curricular innovation, and professional growth.

-Harvard-Westlake will find new ways to serve Los Angeles and earn the trust of our neighbors.

-A commitment to character will be an essential and recognizable part of every pursuit of excellence.

The vision statements are a result of a year of communicative discussion with faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni. Commons said he spent his first year as president chatting about the school mission and spent last year chatting about how to fulfill it.

“I don’t want people to feel like I’m on a mountaintop thinking of these,” Commons said. “These are all a response to conversations last year.”

The vision statements, which Commons also called Visions for 2020, are designed to focus on areas where the school needs to improve.

“They don’t include everything,” Commons said. “There is not a vision for journalism, for example. We like it how it is. But when it comes to becoming a better servant of greater Los Angeles, that’s new stuff. That’s something we want to do. When it comes to happiness and balance being actually a primary value in the way students experience school, that’s a new thing.”

While Commons acknowledged that many students learn about their identity and their values from a coach or extracurricular adviser, the plan for the vision statements is to incorporate that learning process into the everyday education of Harvard-Westlake.

“We’re trying to make it so that when students talk about their Harvard-Westlake experience, they talk not only about excellence but also about what they learned about values,” Commons said.