I am excited to offer what is likely to be the penultimate update on Falmouth Academy’s year-long strategic planning process. Despite the onset of the global pandemic and the time- and labor-intensive effort that was required to pivot in March to our remote learning environment, the work of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee proceeded without interruption. At the May meeting of the Board of Trustees, the Strategic Vision 2020—representing the collective efforts of so many—was officially and unanimously endorsed.
As we continue to plan for a range of re-opening scenarios, while also reflecting on our own role in the Black Lives Matter movement, and how we as a community can become stronger allies, more vocal anti-racists, and more effective agents for change, we are also elbow-deep in the process of readying our Strategic Vision for publication and implementation. I expect this to be delivered in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, I’d like to reflect briefly on our journey and offer a few thank yous to the people most directly responsible for the work.
The process began back in May of 2019, with the selection of our lead facilitator, Ms. Jenn Desjarlais of Cambridge Hill Partners. With both patience and persistence, Jenn helped us frame and follow a process that complied with our original goals of being thorough, transparent, and inclusive. And while the product will usher in a new era of educational excellence at Falmouth Academy, we continue to believe that it is the process that has set the stage for success.
That process began last summer with the creation of our steering committee, populated by board members, past and present parents, faculty, alumni, and administrators. (Indeed, four of our members had Head of School experience!) I am grateful to Cynthia Feldmann, Ben Feldott, Joan Holden, Monica Hough, Mike Jones, Andy Kingman, Liz Klein, Laura Shachoy, Joe Valle, and Rob Wells for their time and care.
The process continued in the fall with an extended site visit by Ms. Desjarlais. Jenn conducted focus groups with the Board, faculty, parents, the Administrative Council, representatives of our local community, our Alumni Council, two groups of students, and former faculty.
Early winter was devoted to research, as the committee dug into a trove of documents and data, including recent self-studies, alumni and parent surveys, reports from the offices of development, admissions, finance, and facilities, and other internal documents, as well as regional demographic, educational, and economic data, all of which was compiled into a briefing book that informed our process.
Then in February, we hosted two days of iterative thinking exercises, the first an “innovation session” in which faculty and board members heard from industry thought leaders and engaged in forward-thinking discussions, the second a “strategy session,” in which we processed all we had learned and moved toward the definition of the four or five “pillars” that would anchor future efforts.
Finally, this spring, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee met several times to convert all of this good thinking into clear language that would emerge as our long-awaited Strategic Vision.
As I stated, the more formal version of our vision is currently being polished, but I can offer a preview of the pillars around which a number of initiatives are organized:
Distinctive Place: We will make a meaningful difference to the distinctive place in which our school exists through initiatives that integrate sustainability into our curriculum, facilitate out-of-class experiences, extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom for all students, and otherwise speak to the unique challenges of this generation’s increasingly uncertain and unstable climate.
Renewed Curriculum: We will re-examine our curriculum to ensure that it is intentionally structured and fully responsive to this changing world and its many pressing “challenges of our times.”
Excellence in Teaching: We will invest in attracting, retaining, and supporting a dedicated, diverse, and motivated professional faculty committed to our mission, values, and a shared culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Future Sustainability: We will attend to the financial framework and infrastructure required to achieve our educational goals and strategic priorities.
Embedded within and integrated across each of these priorities are three clear charges: a) to operationalize our stated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice, b) to build on our long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability and resilience, and lead on climate science/change education, and c) to evolve our program so that it is intentionally responsive to the multi-faceted role technology plays in the lives of current and future students.
I am deeply grateful for the input and insight of our community, for the ongoing support of our stakeholders as we look to operationalize our ambitious plan, and for the opportunity to lead this fine school. More to come!