Culture and Community: The “It Factor”

Culture and community are two of the most important aspects of any school. When visiting campuses, a defining variable between the good and great is the experience, some reference this as the “It Factor!” You know it when you feel it, and you know when it is not present. I hope to demystify the “It Factor” and share some common commitments and focal points for collective impact. Culture and community is the glue that holds students, teachers, and families together—creating a sense of belonging and shared purpose that is essential for success to create an environment where Love and Learning meet. At the Lovett School in Atlanta, GA, culture and community are central to everything we do, through turning our core values of intellect, purpose, faith, love and belonging into a lived experience. As a school we honor our Episcopal heritage at Lovett by remaining committed to creating an environment that fosters spiritual growth and community life that lives our core values.

“At Lovett education is progressing continually in order to keep in step with the constant changes occurring in the world around us. It is a changing education for a changing civilization.”

Eva Edwards Lovett, Founder of The Lovett School  

Positive School Community

A positive school community creates a nurturing environment that supports the emotional and social development of students. When students feel safe and supported, they are more likely to engage in learning, develop positive relationships with peers and teachers, and achieve academic success. A positive school community also promotes a sense of belonging and connectedness, which is essential for students’ mental health and achievement and self-actualization. (see Figure 1.)

A positive school community also benefits teachers. When teachers feel supported, valued, and belonging they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated, leading to better outcomes for students. Teachers who work in positive school communities are also more likely to collaborate with their colleagues, share resources, and develop innovative teaching strategies.

Positive Culture and Communities Create:

  • Conducive learning environment. Students who feel safe, respected, and valued are more likely to engage in learning and take ownership of their academic success. Teachers who feel supported, respected, and appreciated are more likely to be effective and motivated in their teaching. A positive school culture and community, therefore, lead to better academic performance, higher graduation rates, and improved student-teacher relationships
  • Social and emotional well-being. Students who feel connected to their school and community are more likely to develop positive self-esteem, resilience, and emotional regulation skills.
  • Healthy communication and conflict resolution skills among students, leading to a peaceful and supportive school environment.
  • Student’s future success. A positive school culture and community prepare students for the real world by fostering critical life skills such as collaboration, communication, and problem-solving.
  • A sense of social responsibility, empathy, and respect for diversity, leading to a more inclusive and just society.

There are several actions that can lead to a positive school community, at Lovett we remain committed to strengthening our lived experience of belonging to practice and embracing Lovett’s core values of:

Intellect: We value intellect as a lifelong pursuit of cognitive, social, and emotional skills required to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Purpose: We value purpose as the foundation of motivation for learning, the discovery of self, and the source of a meaningful life. 

Belonging: We value belonging, in a diverse community where all members feel connected, included, supported and respected.

Faith: We value faith as the source of values that lead to ethical decision making and perseverance in the face of challenge.

Love: We value love to cultivate joyful learning, strong character, and a compassionate, healthy community.

By prioritizing these factors, we create a supportive and engaging environment that helps students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally for our current and future families.

Tommy Welch is Chief Culture Officer at The Lovett School in Atlanta, GA.