Missions Curriculum Development in High Gear

The Missions program at OLu is a unique and foundational component of what sets the school apart from other educational experiences for high school students. And this year, the Missions team tackled curriculum design in robust ways to make that foundation even stronger and more focused.


Beginning right at the start of the 2023/24 school year, Missions Director Lisa Baermann and Missions teachers Jessica Heim and Drianna Phillips met with me to ideate and articulate clear enduring standards, and a mission and vision for the program. This was a powerful starting point, as these curriculum statements and documents serve as building blocks for all academic and experiential outcomes in the program.

The team captured their enduring understandings for the program in two ways. The first is a set of overarching standards for the Missions program that includes 11 key objectives that guide the Missions experience for all students in all years of academic study at OLu. The second is a set of specific standards for the four themes that guide the rotating curriculum for Missions (vocation, ecological responsibility & social justice, poverty alleviation & community development, and cultural intelligence & global communication).


From there, the team worked on developing unit plans based on Understanding by Design (UbD) principles, daily lesson planning to align with UbD goals, and incorporating a variety of teaching techniques for everyday teaching and learning to continue growing student engagement and deep learning.


A big goal for the year was to design a summative assessment for the Vocation units that would allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways and also engage the community. The Vocation Fair that was held at the end of May was a fabulous celebration that allowed parents, teachers and peers at OLu to join a conversation about vocation and how we can all reflect on the ways that our interests, skills and talents intersect with what the world needs.


Missions Presentations 1


Missions Presentations 2


Missions Presentations 3


On top of these impressive achievements, the Missions team developed resources and experience related to reciprocal community partnerships for Missions trips, and also experimented with some digital storytelling skill development for trips teams.


"We’re going to have the enduring standards for years to come and we will come back to them again and again," says Jessica. "Developing these has been amazing for our program."


Drianna agrees that the team has made immense headway over this year and last year with curriculum design. "I feel more comfortable with global citizenship and service learning and how we can incorporate those into our Missions curriculum," she reflects.


OLu students can elect to take Missions every year from grade 9-12, or they can take the course in specific years that fit their schedules. Each year is designed to be a rich experience and, for students enrolled in multiple years, an experience that builds and culminates in a rich panoply of learning experiences and skills related to biblical knowledge, service as action, collaborative mindsets, and deep reflection.

Topics from this blog: Academics