What is meant by the social-emotional purpose of school?

In our empirical research (Stemler & Bebell, 2012; Stemler, Bebell, & Sonnabend, 2011), we have found that schools tend to use the following phrases in their mission statement when they are referring to emotional development. Specifically, there are five core aspects of emotional development that schools commonly express in their mission statements:


Develop self-discipline, self-confidence, and good self-image

Develop self-directed learner

Develop motivated, inquisitive students

Develop happy and productive human beings

Develop resourceful students

Develop students who are sensitive and aware

Develop students who are respectful of themselves and others

Develop students who are competent, confident, productive, and responsible young adults

Foster independence and individuality

Promote inner strength and determination

Promote self-esteem

Promote compassion and moral strength


Develop well-rounded, enthusiastic, and self-motivated learners

Develop and maintain a spirit of joy in learning, cooperation in doing, and optimism for success and the future

Instill a desire for lifelong learning

Instill a love of learning

Encourage enthusiasm for learning

Foster a positive attitude toward school

Motivate students from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge


Develop moral character in students

Develop persons of commendable moral character

Develop the intellect and character of students

Instill moral and ethical responsibility

Provide value-centered education

Students will be self-reliant

Students will become people of sound character

Our school will promote ethical behavior


Challenge students to maximize their growth emotionally

Challenge students to become who they want to be

Challenge students to reach their full potential

Develop students who understand the emotional needs of others

Offer students an education that will enhance their personal lives

Inspire each student to achieve personal growth and cultural pride

Inspire students to demonstrate respect for self, others, and environment

Foster in each child a sense of meaning and purpose in life

Foster balanced growth of heart, mind, body, and spirit

Provide students with the confidence to meet their destiny

Help everyone develop a sense of goodness, self-worth, and dignity of every person


Provide an education that is based on the process of mutual respect and cooperation

Foster the developmentally appropriate awakening of thinking, feeling, and willing

Facilitate the fullest development and maturation of each child

School mission statements with social-emotional themes

Cardinal Newman School; Columbia, South Carolina (Parochial School)

With origins dating to 1858, Cardinal Newman School, a diocesan, coeducational, college preparatory secondary school serving grades 7 through 12, exists for the purpose of providing Catholic education of the highest quality to children of residents of the greater Columbia community. With an emphasis on the Catholic tradition of education- strong academics, a dedication to service, and traditional Catholic, Christian values, Cardinal Newman School provides a safe and structured environment which challenges all students to achieve personal excellence in every way. Inspired by the community belief in divine providence and love, Cardinal Newman students will become self-disciplined learners who also demonstrate respect, integrity, responsibility, and a sense of justice as they prepare to live lives of truth, integrity, and fidelity- VERITAS, INTEGRITAS, FIDELITAS."

Casa Dei Bambini; Marietta, Georgia (Montessori School)

"Casa's mission is to motivate its students from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge. The goal of education should not be to fill the child with facts but rather to cultivate his/her own natural desire to learn."

Academe of the Oaks; Decatur, Georgia (Waldorf School)

"Adolescents today are inheriting a world with staggering challenges. To meet those challenges and solve ever more complex problems, our young men and women will need a strong sense of moral and ethical responsibility, tremendous creativity, inner strength, and the ability to work with each other in a global context. At Academe of the Oaks, our mission is to re-define the high school experience by educating our students to be resourceful, clear, and flexible thinkers, capable of making profound and positive contributions to the fast-changing world they inherit."

Honolulu Waldorf School; Honolulu, Hawaii (Waldorf School)

"Honolulu Waldorf School provides an education that fosters in each child a sense of meaning and purpose in life, and the confidence to meet his or her own individual destiny. We recognize and welcome the unique gifts brought by each child we serve. We are committed to supporting each child in his or her intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual development by offering a will-based curriculum that integrates academic, practical, experiential, and artistic work. We educate each child so that he or she will contribute to the future of the world with clear and creative thinking, compassion and moral strength, and the courage to initiate change. We are inspired and guided in our work by the educational and spiritual insights of Rudolf Steiner and the continually growing body of research in anthroposphy, which maintains that the highest goal of education is the realization of responsible human freedom."

Dynamite Montessori; Cave Creek, Arizona (Montessori School)

"Dynamite Montessori is a joyful place where children's spontaneity is expressed, where community is fostered, and respect is practiced. It is a safe place where the wonders of nature are discovered, and people experience kindness as the powerful force it is. Ours is a place where bilingual education is pursued, strong bodies are nurtured, lifelong friendships are formed, and the love of learning never wanes."