“The strategic planning process is a chance for us to dream together, as a community, about ways that St. Stephen’s can continue to grow as an institution and reach new levels of excellence in the years ahead,” said Head of School Chris Gunnin of the initiative to develop a five-year strategic plan for the school. “As such, a comprehensive process was designed to ensure that all school members are able to participate in the creation of our new strategic plan.”
To help ensure a successful outcome, the board of trustees retained Christina Drouin to guide the strategic planning committee. Founder and executive director of the Center for Strategic Planning, Drouin is a national leader in the field of independent school strategic planning. “She literally wrote the book on strategic planning for private schools,” Gunnin said of Drouin, who co-authored a guidebook on the subject for the National Association of Independent Schools.
St. Stephen’s yearlong strategic planning process ensures that students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff, board members, and friends of the school all have meaningful opportunities to engage in and contribute to the process. To date, opportunities for engagement have included a series of core value exercises last September, community surveys conducted in October and Visioning Day in late January.
To aid the community in narrowing specific areas of focus, the strategic plan research group, a subset of the larger committee, conducted an extensive examination and analysis of internal and external issues that could impact the school in the next five years, including social, technological, economic, environmental and political factors. Researchers also studied results of the 539 completed community surveys to cull constituents’ views on the school’s strengths and potential areas for growth.
Their work led to the creation of the three strategic drivers that were examined against the backdrop of our core values and school mission on Visioning Day. These drivers identified what the school must leverage, change or innovate in order to: 1) Define and Align our School Identity — who we are as an institution and what we stand for; 2) Add Value to the Student Experience — how we can enhance their unique educational journeys; and 3) Add Value to Society — ways we can help improve the greater community we all serve, both individually and collectively.
These three imperatives provide the framework for our new strategic plan. In addition to determining how best to build upon the value of a St. Stephen’s Episcopal School education, they lay the groundwork for engaging a new generation of Spartans in the meaningful work of developing the personal, academic, creative and spiritual gifts and talents they will need to thrive in an ever-changing world.
The school community will gather again in February for a series of initiative drafting workshops to determine specific ways we can move from intention to action. Participants will be asked to propose projects, programs and activities that will help advance St. Stephen’s new Strategic Plan. Proposed projects will be vetted by the administrative leadership team, and approved initiatives will have a designated leader and timeframe for completion. Stay tuned for more information about ways to participate in these workshops, which are scheduled for February 26–28.
“Ultimately, our goal is for the full school community to recommit to our core values, identify our strengths with an eye toward leveraging those competencies in the years ahead, and collaborate on a new shared vision for St. Stephen’s future,” Gunnin said.
St. Stephen’s final Strategic Plan, Spark 2023, will be launched in April.