Dear Mark Day Families,
A strategic plan can serve to reflect a school's unique and compelling story and vision. Done well, a strategic plan provides an outline for goals in the medium-to-long term, guiding the Head of School and Board of Trustees on where to invest time, energy, and financial resources. Mark Day School has a long track record of strategic planning led by its Board and administrative team, planning that has resulted in the school's racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse and inclusive community, the commitment to strong faculty salaries and benefits, the creation and growth of the school's endowment to support indexed tuition and faculty professional development, crucial campus features including the Arts and Science Building, the Gym, and the Learning Commons and Creativity Lab, and much more. Strategic plans cannot anticipate every new challenge or opportunity; it is equally important to continue to use data to understand the landscape and to remain in a strategic posture consistently. For example, the investments that the school made over the years in educational technology and robust teacher training, supported by strategic plan initiatives, both served the long-term advancement of the program and positioned the school well when we needed to introduce Distance Learning at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our current Strategic Plan was adopted in 2014 and was designed with a seven-year time horizon. The Plan outlined an initial set of emerging priorities, which resulted in outcomes such as the development of the curriculum's four cross-disciplinary literacies and metacognitive skills as well as the new Learning Commons, Creativity Lab, Amphitheater and Quad project. In 2017-18, the Plan was revisited, as envisioned in the Plan's initial design, to develop another set of emerging priorities, which resulted in outcomes such as the transition from "financial aid" to our Indexed Tuition model.
In 2020, the Board formed a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) to develop its next Strategic Plan. The SPC comprises 18 members of the Board and administrative team with a diverse range of professional expertise, experience and Board tenure. In 2020, the strategic planning process was postponed in order to appropriately focus on our response to COVID. In the spring of 2021, the SPC selected Carla Silver of Leadership + Design to lead the planning effort and engage with the school's Board and administrative team, faculty, students and the entire community to develop a new strategic plan. Through an intentional, engaging process rooted in human-centered design and design thinking methodologies, the SPC has been immersed in a process of deep reflection, connection and synthesis. It has explored many different educational models--including a number of newly emergent frameworks--to think in depth about how Mark Day might adapt and adopt these frameworks.
The intended outcome is a strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap that differentiates Mark Day School from its peer schools and competitors, outlines medium-to-long-term goals and objectives, and provides energy and enthusiasm for our future direction. The SPC expects to have a draft strategic plan adopted by the Board in May 2022, with a final plan published in August 2022.
Here are the highlights of activity to date:
- The Board dedicated its annual fall retreat to strategic planning.
- The SPC conducted in-depth interviews with members of the Mark Day School community including parents and guardians, students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
- Carla Silver facilitated two Strategic Planning Think Tank sessions for parents and guardians on Wednesday, November 17.
- Carla Silver facilitated an afternoon Strategic Planning Think Tank for faculty and staff.
- The SPC has held 4-hour monthly committee work sessions.
Through these efforts, six distinct priorities for the Strategic Plan have emerged. We encourage the entire Mark Day community to contribute in crafting these priorities. The next opportunity to get involved is "Design Day," which is tentatively scheduled to be held on campus on Saturday, February 12th from 9am to 3pm. We are working on a Plan B date depending on how the current Covid surge and public health protocols unfold. This will be a chance to provide your insights, knowledge and feedback. The specific objectives,agenda and final date for Design Day will follow.
The next five years will be filled with many challenges and opportunities. We look forward to continuing to meet those challenges and opportunities, guided by a thoughtful and intentional strategic plan and, as always, relying on flexibility, adaptability, and thoughtful innovation. The Strategic Planning Committee looks forward to proposing a strategic plan later this year that will sustain and further catapult our school as an innovative and forward-thinking institution that is, at its foundation, full of heart.
Andrew Kawahara, Chair, Strategic Planning Committee
Joe Harvey, Head of School