Strategies for Excellence 2017-2022
In September 2015, the Board of Trustees began planning the next iteration of the Saint Stephen’s strategic plan to take effect for the 2017-2018 school year. The Long Range Planning Committee spent almost a year gathering a diverse group of perspectives, within and beyond the Saint Stephen’s community, in order to better understand what these stakeholders value most in a Saint Stephen’s education. This plan reflects the many voices we heard and will, ultimately, help drive the Mission, Vision and Promise of the school.
Perspectives were gathered from students, parents, alumni, faculty, the board and friends of the school through focus groups, surveys and our inaugural ALIVE education summit.
FOCUS GROUPS: In March 2016, approximately 70 SSES stakeholders participated in eight focus groups. Five stakeholder categories were identified: Parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff. Division Directors selected parents and students; Dr. Pullen and our Alumni Director selected alumni participants; and Dr. Pullen selected faculty and staff members. Our goal was to gather a diverse group of perspectives as it relates to length of time at SSES, division, age, ethnicity, and school involvement. Each focus group was asked the same seven questions and encouraged to speak freely.
- What programs/initiatives have had the strongest impact (positive or negative) on the school
- What is unique or surprising about our community?
- What opportunities are we missing as a school?
- What should our school be known for?
- Are we serving the optimal student body? Is this from “all walks of life?”
- What is your definition of success? For our school? For our students?
- What are the attributes of a successful student?
SURVEYS: In December 2016, surveys were sent electronically to multiple constituencies within the school, including parents, faculty and staff. Eight questions were asked related to the academic program, the school’s educational initiatives, extracurricular activities, mission, and the overall value of a Saint Stephen’s education. We received a 35% response rate.
EDUCATION SUMMIT: ALIVE (Assembling Leaders for an Innovative Vision for Education)
In September 2016, 21 community leaders (educational and non-educational) gathered to discuss the workplace challenges they face today and how changes in education/schools could help address them.
The half-day summit was organized around the following topics:
- Trends in education
- What will be the role of a school in 5-10 years?
- What will a school teach in 5-10 years?
- What will schools look like in 5-10 years? (consider time, path, pace, place)
Vibrant conversation took place. Participants acknowledged the importance of the session and agreed that a follow-up would be valuable. Ideas and insights gleaned from the summit are reflected in this plan.
Saint Stephen’s Strategic Objectives and Goals
OBJECTIVE #1: Provide a rigorous and innovative curriculum that best prepares students to succeed in college.
- Maintain academic excellence by attracting and retaining the highest caliber faculty, school programs and initiatives such as the Global Initiative, Marine Science and STEAM.
- Ensure accelerated academic program offerings (AP, IB, etc.) are available and challenge students at all levels and in all disciplines.
- Ensure superior resources are in place to support: 1) students with diverse learning needs and/or 2) students who need extra academic help navigating more challenging subjects.
- Foster character development and spiritual awareness through chapel, various emotional intelligence initiatives, and programs emphasizing honor and community service. Reinforce our four pillars: Leadership, Scholarship, Integrity, and Service.
- Continue preparing students to live and work in an increasingly connected and competitive global world.
- Foster a strong sense of public purpose that instills in students an appreciation of diverse demographics and backgrounds.
OBJECTIVE #2: Ensure long-term financial stability for the school.
- Maintain a balanced budget and appropriate cash reserves that will support our school programs and minimize tuition fee increases, keeping in mind an overall enrollment of 750-780 students.
- Build an endowment which reduces the dependence on tuition and, over time, becomes the primary source of financial aid.
- Foster a strong culture of philanthropy where the expectation is that 100% of the school community contributes to the level and manner at which they are able.
- Construct a budget that meets the programming needs of the current student enrollment.
OBJECTIVE #3: Provide a school environment that enables students to seek insight or further learning beyond the “four walls.”
- Leverage local/state/regional/national/international resources to share insights and experiences and
provide new learning environments.
- Provide more robust opportunities for international collaboration and study through global travel and
- Provide more experiential and hands-on learning opportunities that allow for student creativity, exploration and entrepreneurship.
- Ensure students are provided with opportunities to develop important life skills including, but not limited to, collaborating with others, time management, observation, independence and self-study.
OBJECTIVE #4: Foster a safe environment and a culture of continuous improvement.
- Maintain a master campus site plan that anticipates and is able to accommodate future programming and space requirements
- Develop mechanisms for remaining aware of current trends and new ideas in education.
- Create an environment where different voices are appreciated and welcomed to enhance the mission of
- Continue valuing the relationship-building process (among students, faculty, staff, administrators and
parents) that enriches the school.
- Ensure that the safety of students, faculty, staff and administrators is paramount at all times.
- Maintain and enhance up-to-date and appropriate safety protocols and policies for all aspects of the
OBJECTIVE #5: Adhere to best practice governance protocols and procedures between the Board of
Trustees and School Administration.
- Ensure and reinforce that the board’s role is to consider the long-range and strategic needs of the school
while the work of the Head of School is to manage the administration and operational needs of the
- Follow best practices as outlined by NAIS and FCIS accreditation standards when conducting all board
- Review annually the school’s mission, vision and promise and establish procedures for an annual review
of policies, issues and needs.
- Maintain diverse board membership that leverages in-house and local expertise and experience.