As we celebrate “Foundress Day” on September 21st, we explore our historical roots and focus on their contemporary affirmation as expressed in our Guiding Statements. St. John’s International School has a longstanding relationship with the FCJ (Faithful Companions of Jesus) congregation. Not only was our school founded by the FCJ Sisters but our Heads of School were traditionally Sisters till just 10 years ago. Even though we no longer have the privilege of having Sisters on campus, their legacy remains with us till this very day and we are privileged to have our Sisters active in the governance of our school.
On Foundress Day we celebrate the life of the venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houet (1781-1858) who founded the FCJ congregation. She was a woman of great faith and courage who dedicated her life to education. She cared deeply for those who suffered injustice and experienced economic hardships. Our students will hear about our Foundress this coming week and perhaps you would like to take a look at the FCJ website for further information.
While going through the process of planning our strategy and preparing for the accreditation process we had the opportunity of thinking through our mission statements again and we unpacked the concepts that have been with us throughout the history of our noble institution. The inspiring process of coming together with a group of parents, students, administrators, and teachers, and rewording our Guiding Statements, underscored our appreciation of our profound heritage.
Our Guiding Statements underpin all of our educational projects and bind together the manifold facets of our activities at St. John’s. Copies of these Statements have been posted throughout the school to serve as a daily reminder of what we are all about.
Our vision states “St. John’s students live our values to impact the world.” Education at St. John’s is not merely a transmission of information or an assimilation of textbook knowledge, but strives to create an existential reality, i.e. the experience of becoming truly human, ready to make a difference to the community and beyond.
Our Mission stresses that our English-language education is based on Christian values. At St. John’s we treasure our Christian heritage while respecting our many religious and cultural differences. In a spirit of tolerance and dialogue we encourage students to explore their own religious and cultural backgrounds as well as those of their classmates.
The demand for personal excellence addresses the potential of each child rather than merely measuring against external standards. We believe that each child is precious and should be nurtured toward developing self-confident maturity.
The concrete expression of our vision and mission is embodied in the three values we feel to be crucial. From a long list of desirable traits we have chosen: Companionship, Respect, and Integrity, as essential to our identity.
Companionship: A remarkable work of art graces our Middle School foyer, depicting Christ on the Cross surrounded by three figures, the middle figure embracing the other two with open arms. It is a powerful symbol of the gentleness and strength of befriending each other. True teaching only takes place when there is a strong sense of shared experience and companionship. “Does the teacher like me?” is a far more important question to any student than the particular information at hand. Learning takes place when we journey together. This is true of our entire St. John’s family: our faculty and staff, our parents and alumni. Education is the joined effort of many, of home and school, of the teaching team, of the supporting community.
Respect is crucial to the human context and the beginning of all great thinking. Its Latin etymology indicates the act of “looking twice,” taking a careful second look. Rather than relying on the efficiency of stereotypes we challenge each other to postpone judgment, to explore, to listen, and to appreciate. The model of discussion and inquiry, the empowerment of the other, forgiveness and acceptance, care for the environment, and a desire to serve the community including those less fortunate, are all elements of respect and form the basis of a worthy life and a just society.
Integrity: “To thine own self be true.” To learn to see oneself as a valid and loved human being whose life is sacred and unique is the beginning of true education. At St. John’s we seek to keep faith with even the smallest child and pursue education as a vocation. Integrity requires the courage to become wholly human with an interest far beyond personal gain. Integrity feeds a sense of responsibility to lead and serve others.
At St. John’s we feel passionate about the Guiding Statements and what they represent. Obviously we are not talking about established entities when we formulate a vision or values. We are rather on a journey together, accompanying each other in the precarious business of living our lives with conscious reflection and executing our most precious assignment: that of guiding the children entrusted to our care.
Dr. Marjan Blok, Deputy Director