South Orangetown Central School District

At its November 21 workshop, the Board of Education and Central Office administrators engaged in a series of exercises and discussion regarding school district culture and climate. NYSED defines a positive school climate as promoting “school safety, student self-esteem, emotional well-being, mental health, and lower incidences of substance abuse, student absenteeism, and suspensions.” Moreover, it is how a school district is perceived by students, staff, families, partner organizations and the community-at-large.

In small groups, Board members and administrators reflected on data from the District’s 2019 Climate Survey after reading “What Makes a Good School Culture?” by Leah Shafer. Following a discussion about patterns and observations, the groups read “The Power of Collective Efficacy” by Jenni Donohoo, John Hattie and Rachel Eells and considered where a shared belief that individuals can overcome challenges and achieve results when working together is already highly practiced and ways to support a broader and more robust culture of collective efficacy districtwide. “We know that an exceptional school district culture has a focus on student learning instead of compliance and that there is a strong correlation between positive school culture and student academic achievement and success,” noted Superintendent Robert Pritchard. “What do we need to do to strengthen our culture?”

Building trust, school pride and interdisciplinary/inter-building relationships were identified as key opportunities for growth. The evening concluded with Board members considering whether the district’s vision and mission statements (below) accurately represent its goals as it looks toward the future.

SOCSD leadership wants to hear from you: What are your three words? Students, staff, families and community members are invited to reflect on the statements below and share the three words or terms that represent aspirational goals which they believe should be at the heart of our school district’s mission. To participate, click on the “3 Words” survey button at the top of this page by Friday, December 20. Community feedback will be considered when the Board reconvenes this workshop discussion in January.


Vision Statement (2018)
The South Orangetown Central School District’s vision is to ELEVATE, ENGAGE and INSPIRE our students by building a culture of:

  • High expectations where students will possess the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for a variety of post-graduation options (Elevate)
  • Healthy, productive and supportive relationships between students, staff, families and the community (Engage)
  • Equitable access to opportunities in order for students and staff to pursue their full potential as responsible citizens and lifelong learners (Inspire)

Mission Statement (pre-2000)
In a rapidly changing world, the South Orangetown school community affirms its positive vision of the future by providing a safe and caring environment where the excitement of teaching and learning is shared by all, and where we encourage and nurture the uniqueness of each child.

Through diverse and challenging programs, we promote high academic standards, creative and critical thinking, self-respect and respect for others, and acceptance of our responsibilities in a global society. We are committed to fostering a love of learning in our students.