Key principles NMSSJ

Key Principles of the NMSSJ Community:

  • Collective Work and Responsibility  |  Community  |  Failing Forward

  • Mutual Respect  |  Open Mindset

  • Social Justice  |  Student Voice  |  Restorative Practice  |  Being Present

The language of NMSSJ and the relationship to our principles:


Harambee: Swahili term (East African) that means “pulling or working together in a common direction”. Harambee signifies that we are a community and as such we have responsibilities to each other, and are responsible for each other: The principle of community. 

Ubuntu: A quality that includes the important human qualities; compassion and humanity. Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’ (treating each other like humans; treating with kindness and charity). Ubuntu can be defined simply by “I am because you are and because we are therefore I am”; This phrase is spoken daily at NMSSJ and is one of our guiding principles. Ubuntu supports the idea that we are all individuals, however we achieve our greatest level of being a human through our connection with, respect for and support of those individual that make up our families and our communities (school and external). Principles of collective work and collective responsibility are essential aspect of the NMSSJ community; inside the classrooms and out.

Palante Siempre Palante: The term Palante comes from a conjunction of the Spanish words Para Adelante which means to move forward. The term Palante Siempre Palante means “forward forever forward”. The word P’alante was the name of the Young Lords Party’s newspaper. The principles of Failing forward (using one’s mistakes or failures to move forward until victory is achieved) and having an Open Mindset (“I didn’t get it wrong, I just found 100 ways that didn’t solve the problem”). At NMSSJ, students, staff and parents are asked to be committed to failing forward and possessing an open mindset.

Ago … Ame: The word Ago means, “May I have your attention” and the response. The term Ame, “You have my attention”,”. However, a deeper understanding is Ago ask for the attention of the whole self…the opened ready to accept self. The Ame is sometimes translated as “I’m open”; not simply compliance but true openness that suggest a readiness to learn, teach, accept and embrace. The principle of respect and the principle of being “present”; ready and willing to problem solve, share one’s knowledge and grow is intrinsic to our concept of Ago…Ame.

Uhuru: Swahili word that means Freedom/independence. Uhuru is both a personal and collective goal. The principle of Social Justice is closely connected to the concept of Uhuru. NMSSJ commitment to Uhuru is also tied to our commitment to Restorative Justice/Practice, student voice and social justice/action.