Chapter 1


Creating Vitality in Schools

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

—Yogi Berra, MLB player, manager, and coach


Education is an important part of the fabric of American culture and has a significant impact on the social and economic health of our society. Because its effects are so far-reaching, a huge priority must be placed on the time, care, and resources given to creating quality schools. To ensure that they are successful year after year, decade after decade, and century after century, schools must have the tools to create and maintain vitality. According to, vitality is the “capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence.” It is further described as the “power to live, grow, or develop.” Schools are essential to the advancement of humanity and our world; as such, it is imperative that educational leaders have the ability to create continuity of meaningful and purposeful existence for the long haul. The decisions that educational leaders make determine how vitality is established in schools and ultimately determines the long-term quality and success of those schools: how they will live and grow into the future.

Vitality in schools, like other businesses, requires leaders to be progressive thinkers with an eye on longevity. This involves not only sustainability and progress—it also involves thriving long-term. Vitality should be part of the conversation when planning and setting goals, and that means taking a close look at how school business and management decisions, at all levels, impact student learning over 3-10 years. Educational leaders must be committed to the role that they play in carrying out the plans and goals set forth. Forecasting and ongoing evaluation of policies and procedures in all areas of school business and operations have to include long-term projections, which must involve stakeholders who are invested in the outcomes.

In order to survive and thrive every successive decade, schools must predict future educational trends and models based on social, political, economic, and technological developments. Factors that schools need to consider when looking to build the capacity to thrive are quality vs. quantity, the political climate, adaptability, technological advancements, and long-term strategic planning.


Quality vs. Quantity

In education, the emphasis should always be on quality. Quality over quantity should be the focus when implementing new strategies to meet standards. Quality and substance over quantity and shallowness produce the best outcomes. Always doing more is not sustainable, so educators need to be thoughtful about the changes they commit to implementing. Furthermore, focusing on too many things at once can be overwhelming for teachers and staff and can compromise their ability to be effective. Quality work at the school site is more impactful and increases the likelihood of achieving the best results, both in terms of the broader educational goals and providing students with a program that is dedicated to excellence.

Political Climate

Political leaders have a huge influence on education. They are constantly creating bills and laws that have a direct impact on our schools. It is important for educators to keep a finger on the pulse of the political climate. This makes it possible to navigate the implementation of educational policies and adjust to any modifications at the school site in a way that minimizes any potential damage to the progress of student achievement. As political leaders enter and exit office, a revolving door of policies will negatively or positively affect education. Amid the uncertainty and the changing political mood, leaders in education can support their staff by being ready to implement new policies efficiently so staff can remain focused on maintaining the quality of ongoing educational practices, all while adapting to the changing dynamics of the profession.



The ability to adapt also contributes to the goal of creating vitality in schools. The future of education is determined by many factors that are sometimes unpredictable. Being able to adapt to unforeseen changes or situations allows schools to adjust effectively to educational circumstances and avoid disruption to the mission and vision of the school. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic was proof of just how essential adaptation is to surviving and thriving in the educational world. Schools that were able to transition to distance learning with relative ease were able to maximize teaching and learning. All staff members have to be willing to engage with the vicissitudes of change that affect education because the success of each school is ultimately a group effort. The resilience of the staff will determine the school’s capacity to adapt expeditiously to social and economic impact, political changes, and technological advancements.


Technological Advancements

Embracing the information and technology age is a key step in producing vitality in schools. As information becomes readily available with new technology, it is imperative that students are provided with access, resources, knowledge, skills, and connectivity to keep pace with technological improvements and remain academically and socially relevant. College and career preparedness relies heavily on technology. When students graduate from high school, they need to possess advanced technology skills, competencies, and confidence to be competitive in college and ultimately find success in the workforce. For students to develop technological expertise, teachers have to maintain an advanced level of technology skills themselves and incorporate technology into their regular instructional practices. Ongoing professional development is necessary to support student growth and keep pace with progressive technology. Being aware of the current and future technological advancements is fundamental to providing students with a quality education.

In addition to the classroom, business operations must also maintain technological infrastructures that improve efficiency in record-keeping, internal and external communication, productivity, and overall quality of service. The enhanced efficiency and systems that these innovations can deliver are essential to maintaining school vitality. In order to implement best practices in all areas of school operations, long-term strategic planning must be devised and implemented.


Long-Term Strategic Planning

Future planning is the bedrock of vitality in schools. Long-term strategic planning puts educational leaders in the driver’s seat of school success. As school leaders construct a vision of vitality, a 3-5-year strategic plan needs to be created that outlines objectives that measures where the school is in terms of meeting their overall mission and vision, as well as determines what needs to occur moving forward to achieve the school’s goals. The strategic plan provides a built-in structure that calls for consistent assessment and reevaluation of practices to ensure that they are meeting the ultimate goal of student achievement. By anticipating how time will influence education and business practices, administrators and leaders can better acclimate to educational conditions and advancements in the future.



Strategic planning sets the intention for educational leaders and stakeholders to move towards the school’s vision. However, it will be the implementation of the goals and action plan that will determine the quality and success of the school. Vitality is essential to the ongoing success in schools. In order for vitality to be incorporated into the fabric of school practices, educational leaders must include quality over quantity, an awareness of the political climate, adaptability, technological advancements, and long-term strategic planning into the conversation when planning and setting goals.