The Mission of Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice (NMSSJ) is to equip our students with the academic and social-emotional skills they will need to not only be college and career ready but to also be committed to social justice and improving their communities and this nation. Graduates of Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice will be critical, analytical and independent thinkers that will be lifelong learners who have an awareness of, as well as a dedication to, their own cultures and the cultures of others.
NMSSJ is organized around the conviction that our school community should be open to ALL students; regardless of their educational or personal history. NMSSJ, like all EPIC schools, is specifically dedicated to improving the outcomes of students of color; with a focus on young men. Our school community will be guided by the concept that college should be encouraged for ALL our students, and therefore every student should be thoroughly prepared for this challenge with a rigorous academic program. NMSSJ school community will be a culturally relevant and responsive environment that is nurturing and safe, and that supports the educational success and social, emotional, and physical development of all learners. Our courses will be academically rigorous, engaging, and standards-based, with a focus on our students achieving mastery of the skills they will need to be college and career ready (competency based education). Using restorative practice, The NMSSJ community will be characterized by a high sense of trust, a strong and effective involvement of families, collaboration and authentic student empowerment. NMSSJ school community will seek to stem the tide of the over suspension of young people of color, and therefore help to eliminate the school to prison pipeline.
Our learning community fosters young people to be positive decision makers. Our students develop into leaders by making real choices pertaining to their educational paths. We listen to the voices of our young people when assisting them on their journey towards future success in college and careers. We empower them to design the world they want to live in.
Personalized and Applied Learning
Our learning community recognizes and attends to the differences that exist across all of our students and staff members. In fact, we integrate them into everything that we do. All students and staff maintain personal growth plans that highlight their strengths, challenges, and methods of learning and guide their work on a daily basis. We also have a commitment to connecting all learning to practical experiences that deepen and enrich mastery.
Inclusion and Service
Our learning community will honor and embrace the cultures of our students. We will teach in a way that is responsive to their needs. Everything we do is primarily in service to our students. Our learning community will serve as an integral part of the neighborhood and city in which we exist. Community members, parents, students and all others who have a stake in our work will have a real say in how we operate.
Cultural Relevance and Responsiveness
Our learning community recognizes that the cultures of students of color have not always been honored and integrated into typical curricular and pedagogical practice in most schools. Often, they have been miseducated and unfairly targeted by zero tolerance discipline policies that deprive of their right to a liberating education. We will purposefully infuse every piece of our work with norms, practices and ideas that engage and connect our students to their heritage and expand access points to learning.
Continuous Growth & Design for Transformation
Our learning community will help all learners focus inward and outward when it comes to transformation. We cannot transform society until we transform ourselves. We are all a part of the systems that shape and define our experiences. We espouse a growth mindset and an asset-based approach when it comes to personal development. We encourage our students to take risks, learn from failure (“fail forward”), and design a better future using the tools they develop in our learning community.
Our learning community operates on the moral principle of Ubuntu — “I am because we are.” We each exist as unique and powerful learners, but we also work together to transform ourselves and our community. Our learning community operates on the moral principle of Ubuntu — “I am because we are.” We each exist as unique and powerful learners, but we also work together to transform ourselves and our community.