September 3, 2019
Falmouth Academy has embarked on a strategic planning process that will engage its many stakeholders in an energizing and inclusive community endeavor that will set the stage for a new era of educational excellence at the school.
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:
• In June, we graduated a terrific senior class that matriculated at an impressive array of colleges
• Over the past year we enjoyed record attendance at several admissions events and recently opened with 215+ students
• The 2018-2019 Fund for Falmouth Academy exceeded its goal by over 15%
• In the fall of 2018 we closed the largest campaign in the school’s history, which yielded us two beautiful and very well-used new facilities and boosted our endowment which is at an all-time high
• Our budget is balanced
• We are debt free.
Given these positive vital signs, when it comes to launching a strategic planning process, one would be justified in wondering why, or at least why now?
Quite simply, Falmouth Academy is not immune from the headwinds into which all independent schools are sailing. The challenges of shifting demographics, economic uncertainties, escalating tuitions, increased and varied competition, and an aging physical plant call to mind both Richard Cushing’s observation that, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark,” and John F. Kennedy’s advice, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
It is always better to plan from a position of relative strength. In doing so, our decision-making is made not out of necessity, but in the context of a confident assessment of our many strengths and a thoughtful consideration of how we can build on those strengths so that the world enjoys the contributions of our talented graduates for generations to come.
Exponential developments in technology have yielded fields—artificial intelligence, data analytics, bioengineering, robotics, to name but a few—that barely existed ten years ago, fields that demand deep and broad curricular expertise from agile adaptive thinkers. And, tomorrow’s graduates will also be expected to rise to the challenges of the political, social, and particularly environmental crises that they stand to inherit. Increasingly, it seems, change is not some external temporary inconvenience; it is the very water we swim in. Or, to borrow the words of Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
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.
In the coming months, the steering committee will work with our consultant to further frame the process. It important to note, however, that it is not the committee’s role to own the plan; rather, the group will determine how best to engage and communicate with the Falmouth Academy community to ensure that your ideas are included and your feedback is noted. The Steering Committee will soon convene a series of open forums, focus groups, interviews, surveys, and planning sessions by which your voice will be heard. A strategic plan may technically be the domain of the Board, but it is the faculty who deliver it, the parents who invest in it, the alumni and other benefactors who support it, and perhaps most importantly, the students who live it.
We are excited to be embarking on this journey. It’s one that will yield a set of strategic priorities that will not only affirm forty plus years of exemplary teaching and learning but also chart a course for a future Falmouth Academy that is even more vital and relevant. To invoke an African proverb, “tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”