Understanding Your School’s Board & Its Culture

Every independent and faith-based school is unique and this is often reflected in its culture.  A school’s “culture” is driven and defined by many things; including the composition of its student body, families, staff, traditions, passions, priorities, community involvement, and much more.

A cornerstone in a school’s culture is the culture of its governing board. Every board can be described in terms of the quality of its strategic plan, their combined skillset, success in selection of a head of school, the effectiveness of fundraising campaigns, and that’s only the beginning.

Additionally, a board’s culture is enormously impacted by elements that cannot be quantified. Issues such as the value of serving, working as a team, professionalism, courtesy, trust, humility, integrity, character, openness and transparency; and its attitude and treatment of the head of school, staff, families, and the community. Every head of school and board chair should always be keenly aware of its board culture and what direction it is headed. The board’s behavior, traditions, willingness to work together, and commitment to what is best for the school all define board culture.

To help you better understand and evaluate your board’s culture, in Chapter 9 of my new book, Healthy Boards-Successful Schools, I unpack the positive and the negative factors that determine the culture and their impact on your school and have much to do with whether your school thrives or merely survives. In addition, I also carefully demarcate various roles and responsibilities, that if understood and implemented, will result in a board that genuinely embraces best practices as an important way in which to achieve mission and vision. Culture determines behavior and it is this behavior that defines priorities.

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