School culture is a lot like fashion sense: it’s hard to know a good outfit until you put it on.
It’s visible in bathrooms, sporting events, the main office, and different classrooms. But describing what, exactly, Riverside’s culture is, can be hard.
“It’s weird because it’s something you don’t see all the time,” said senior Javion Johnson.
“We [create the school’s culture] as a community,” said senior Jahcori Brown. “It’s us as a unit.”
¨We embrace diversity,” said English teacher Erin Roth. “It’s a place for everyone here.¨
People have a lot to say when it comes to school culture, but it’s much harder to quantify. One group that tries to do it is Riverside’s School Improvement Team. The team consists of Riverside teachers, counselors, administrators, media coordinators and parents, who write a list of assessments, goals and action steps in a comprehensive School Improvement Plan.
For example, this year the team is working on the structures of the plan so that the school can work together to meet specific goals. For example, the School Improvement Plan calls for groups of teachers called Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) to meet at least two times a month.
“Data and best practices are not consistently shared among teachers and PLTs,” reads the current School Improvement Plan, which is available on Riverside’s website. “At this time some PLTs are updating agendas and minutes and others are not, indicating a need for increased accountability.”
This will take time, as there is a learning curve for teachers at RHS, especially new faculty members.
“Emphasis on ‘what to do with the data’ once we have it and what type of data is best to inform instruction is needed,” the plan reads.
The School improvement team also writes Riverside’s mission and vision statements, which provide a simpler look into a school’s culture.
A mission statement is designed to close the gap between what an organization is currently doing and its vision for the future, while a vision statement indicates where an organization is headed in the future.
Riverside High School welcomes, engages, exposes, and empowers a diverse community of learners to foster critical thinking and prepare students for lifelong learning and engaged global citizenship.Riverside high school mission statement
Riverside High School graduates will possess the skills to be both self-reliant, global citizens, and positive, contributing members of the communities.Riverside High school vision statement
Thoughtful and strategic as the statements may be, some members of Riverside’s community believe the school doesn’t live up to the language.
It should be created by the administration to set the tone,¨ Roth said. ¨Communication, debate, and consistency [need to improve].”
“Everybody doesn’t get the same treatment,” said Shaun Clarke
¨Stop kids from destroying bathrooms,¨ said Brown.