Strategic Planning

Charting the Course

February 18, 2020

The past several weeks have been among the busiest and most important in our nearly eight-month strategic planning process.  In my last post, I alluded to the productive and energizing student planning session we enjoyed in January, wherein twenty-plus of our terrific students envisioned Falmouth Academy in 2025.  The students impressed us not only with their aspirations for their school but also their understanding and appreciation for the strong position and institutional culture from which we will be pursuing such ambitions.  

That student voice was in many cases amplified in the Innovation and Strategy sessions we held over the weekend of February 7 and 8.  On Friday afternoon, the full faculty was joined by the Board of Trustees for three hours of imaginative thinking about the many possibilities available to our school.  We devoted the majority of this session to hearing from and engaging with an impressive panel of external experts: 

  • Lee Coffin, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, who offered a distinctive perspective on the qualities and characteristics that support students' success beyond high school and how high schools are preparing them for that journey.
  • Moira Kelly, President & Executive Director, Exploration Learning (EXPLO), Needham, MA, an organization dedicated to inspiring students to challenge themselves, discover the world of people and ideas, and experience the joy of learning.
  • Ralph Wales, Interim Head of School at Benchmark School in Media, PA and long-time Head of The Gordon School (RI).  Ralph shared his extensive experience in academic program development, strategic planning and independent school finances, in particular as it related to programs designed to strengthen school culture and diversity.
  • Andrew Watson, Founder and President of Translate the Brain, through which he conducts workshops and presentations that synthesize up-to-date brain research with practical guidance for teaching and learning.

All shared their perspective on what schools can do to ensure that their students are future-ready, as well as their experiences with managing the many challenges that accompany organizational change. In addition to an extensive Q&A session, participants engaged in conversation at their tables, generating and sharing perspectives on the school’s strategic priorities.

The following day, a smaller group spent the better part of seven hours reflecting on that session as well as on the cumulative results of eight months of research, all neatly summarized and bound in a briefing booklet.   We engaged in a number of activities and exercises designed to move us toward consensus of three to five strategic ideas in service of which a series of measurable action steps could emerge. We still need to provide some definition and specificity, but the priorities that have emerged from our process will not surprise you.  Among them, further leveraging the many opportunities of our unique location, re-examining the curriculum to ensure that it is fully responsive to a changing world, making sure that FA continues to be accessible (and affordable) to a diverse and diversely talented student population, and attracting, retaining, developing, and fairly compensating a top-notch faculty.  

In the coming months, the Strategic Planning Committee will sharpen these priorities and begin to specify some of the action steps that the school can take to realize them.  Look for an update in April and thank you for your ongoing interest and engagement in what has to date been a terrific process.


Steering Committee

Members of the Steering Committee have worn multiple hats here at school. Among them are four current or former Heads of School, four current parents, seven parents of alumni, six trustees, seven current or former classroom teachers, and one alumnus. Combined, they represent more than 180 years of affiliation with Falmouth Academy!

Joe Valle, Board Chair, Past Parent, Grandparent
Matt Green, Head of School, Parent
Ben Feldott, Parent
Cynthia Feldmann, Board Treasurer, Past Parent
Joan Holden, Board Member, Former Head of School
Monica Hough, Faculty, Past Parent
Mike Jones, Board Member, Parent
Andy Kingman, Board Member, Alumnus
Liz Klein, Faculty
Ben Parsons, Faculty, Former Head of School
Laura Shachoy, Board Member, Parent
Rob Wells, Faculty, Past Parent, Former Head of School

"Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” —African proverb

About the Process & Updates

List of 5 items.

  • January 15, 2020 Update

  • November 26, 2019 Update

  • October 8, 2019 Update

  • Why Now?

    This is an exciting time in Falmouth Academy's history. Thanks to the school’s richly deserved reputation for academic excellence delivered within a culture of kindness and support courtesy of our remarkable faculty, the generosity of our many benefactors, and the thoughtful stewardship on the part of the trustees and administration, the school’s position has never been stronger. For example:
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  • The Process

    Last February, the Falmouth Academy Board of Trustees gathered for a weekend retreat, where a trio of experienced strategic planning professionals from different fields shared their insights and best practices.  Among the outcomes of that session were: a) the development of a timeline that began in summer 2019 and will conclude by spring 2020, b) the initial framework of the plan, which will be agile and adaptive and target the next four years, c) the leadership: our process will be guided by a deliberately small representative steering committee and led by an external facilitator.
    Read More

Our facilitator

Ms. Jennifer Desjarlais is an experienced strategic planner. She is familiar with Falmouth Academy through her work in college admissions at Wellesley College, where she served as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid and a member of the senior leadership team.  Jenn’s firm, Cambridge Hill Partners, specializes in strategic planning and organizational change, and counts among its clients notable colleges including MIT, Harvard, Tufts, Williams, Wellesley and Smith, and schools not very different than our own, including Nashoba Brooks, Concord Academy, Beaver Country Day School, and Emma Willard.