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District Philosophy

When people ask about 4J schools, they often want to know about attendance boundaries and test scores, class sizes and calendars. While we recognize the importance of that information, we believe that to really understand this school district, you must know our values.

Basic beliefs

  • This is a student-centered district; everything we do must be good for children.
  • We realize that to get better implies change; we should be investigating, learning, trying, exploring fine-tuning and constantly leading progress.
  • We create an environment in our district that is demanding but nurturing, rigorous but compassionate, safe but risk-taking. We foster both independence and collaboration and require accountability as well as involvement from everyone.


  • The fundamental purpose of District 4J is to give each of our students an excellent education; we invest in our students because they are our future.
  • An excellent education will prepare students to become thoughtful, responsible citizens in our democratic society, engage in productive work, be skillful in relationships with others, and find pleasure in the worthy use of leisure time.

About students

  • Students will be treated with respect, dignity, and warmth so that they will want to come to school. We believe learning is natural for all human beings. Given the right circumstances, which includes a positive and supportive climate, every student can learn effectively in school.
  • Each student brings a unique set of experiences and needs to the school. We must be prepared to take students as they come to us and to provide each one with an excellent education.
  • Students will leave school prepared to be productive young adults able to work and engage in continued education or training.

About staff

  • School district staff should be advocates for the needs of children.
  • Employees can expect employment security when they perform adequately and their work supports the mission of the district.
  • We won’t ask people to do the impossible; work assignments are commensurate with the resources and support available. People have a right to be involved in the decision making process of their school or department as well as the school district. If employees are involved in decisions, they can identify many opportunities for program improvements and create organizational efficiencies.

About community and parents

  • Parents are central to the life of children, and therefore must be major participants in the educational process.
  • Parents and the community will be involved in planning and implementing the education program. It is our responsibility to be certain that citizens understand the lifelong value a good education system brings to the community.

About resources

  • To the extent possible, our resources will go directly into the instructional process.
  • We are good stewards of the funds we receive from the public. We are responsible for taking care of the schools and other facilities our community has entrusted to us to ensure that our buildings and equipment are safe, attractive, and comfortable.

Decision-making boundaries

Our decision making will be consistent with the district mission. We will:

  • Do what is best for students
  • Promote individual dignity
  • Enhance the quality of instruction
  • Involve all persons, groups, or sites affected by a decision (students, parents, staff, community, public agencies, business)
  • Respond to legal requirements, state rules, district policies, contracts, and available resources
  • Be responsible and accountable