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We’re in the midst of a strategic planning process that began in the 2017-18 school year. We started with consultant-led work to clarify who we are as a school and community. From there, our Head of School worked with the staff to revise our mission statement and community belief statements.

In the fall, a team of administrators, staff, and board members began work with consultant and parent Sarah Olivieri to develop a list of strategic goals under two main headings: impact goals (what we want to do) and execution goals (how we will do it).

They also selected five focus areas that would inform the next phase of planning work: Core Values, Community, Music, Environmental Sustainability, and Governance.

Over the past couple of months, then, task forces have convened to address each of these areas. Groups determined the framework for their conversations independently, and reported their findings at the Open Board Meeting on April 24th.

Also at that meeting, the Board reviewed its own goals for the current school year (which included the development of a strategic plan) as a step toward writing next year’s list. These included adding board members, internalizing HMS strategic goals and working in alignment with them, using group sessions for decision making with fact finding and discussion in between, providing clear goals for the Head of School, devoting meeting time to educational topics, and developing a sustainable operating model.

Inspired by our work this year, the next phase of our strategic planning will consider all growth and change through the lens of the school’s mission and core values.  

Keep reading for highlights from the strategic planning Task Force reports, and an update on next steps for each.

Core Values

Jackie Katzen, Chair

Jackie reported that her task force reviewed our existing statements of mission and philosophy, and determined they continue to represent us well. Jackie will stay on as Chair as the group further considers how to name these values succinctly, explores their meaning across our community, and identifies ways to operationalize them.

To achieve this, the original task force will be disbanded and a new committee will be invited to participate in the research phase. Select phrases and words from the mission and community belief statements will be shared with various stakeholder groups for deep conversation about what those phrases mean and which programs and curriculum areas reflect those words. Recommendations will be made on any programmatic or curricular changes that would enhance alignment with the core values of the school.

Community

Carrie Wykoff, Chair

Carrie reported that her task force suggests prioritizing time and space to gather as community, extending and deepening our community partnerships, and finding more ways to represent the values of our school beyond the High Meadow campus. An initial recommendation is to create opportunities for group service work, and to focus each year’s service learning around a central theme.

Moving forward, Jen Bousilman will become part of the expanded task force to integrate her work in admissions with our community outreach. Others will be invited to join the group, which will continue to meet into the summer to plan for the coming school year.

Music

Norman Baron, Chair

Norman, an adjunct instructor in our music program and HMS grandparent (Jakob, 7th; Menena, 8th), reported on his task force’s extensive research among students, music instructors, classroom teachers, and families, which led to concrete recommendations, including creating a full-time music teacher position, providing positive discipline and classroom management training for adjunct instructors, deepening foundational music education, expanding dedicated space for music-making, and incorporating practice into homework routines.

Moving forward, music teacher Victor Lissabet will assume the role of Chair of this task force, in order to implement operational aspects of the recommendations including revised scheduling, continuity of instrumental instruction, refining the new violin program, and the addition of wind instruments to the 4th Grade.

Environmental Sustainability

Bridget Corso, Chair

Bridget’s task force named three areas of focus for their work: energy, waste, and physical environment. They suggested continued exploration of solar generation of electricity on the campus, and proposed further including students in waste reduction solutions, with activities such as an annual immersion week and a “sister schools” ideas exchange.

They asked that we devote resources to enhancing the garden and nature trail and incorporating them further into the curriculum. Initial ideas included “trail recess”, trail marking and mapping projects, creation of a “field guide” of our space, development of interpretive signage, remediation of our pond and forest, and an after school stewardship program.

Next, three priority projects will be selected in the areas of physical infrastructure, programs, and curriculum.

Governance

Sarah Olivieri, Chair

Sarah reported that her task force spent their limited meeting time considering the roles of all community stakeholders, including staff, administration, board, and PTO. They will continue to meet through the spring to review accountabilities and decision making processes.