September 03, 2019
Strategic Planning Prompts Big, Audacious Ideas
During Kingswood Oxford’s opening faculty meeting, Head of School Tom Dillow announced that the school was embarking on a strategic plan to dream and chart what our school will look like in five to 10 years and asked the faculty to think big. The strategic plan is the school’s road map to create priorities to achieve a vision for the future.
“We need to plant a flag in the ground and say ‘This is what we believe in. This is what we do.’ It’s necessary for our continued viability in an increasingly competitive market,” Dillow said.
Dillow shared the preliminary work accomplished over the summer, including workshops with the Board and the Senior Administrative team, survey results, and feedback from the school’s reaccreditation. The Board and the Senior Admin Team worked with principle and consultant Stephanie Rogen of Greenwich Leadership Partners to reflect on the strategic process and the goals. Rogen advocates a newer strategic model that allows for institutions to pivot and modify their vision as imperatives may shift over the years. Whereas other former strategic plans were static tomes sitting on shelves, Rogen calls for a plan to build a dynamic vision.
One guiding principle throughout the process is the centrality of our students in our strategic work. Dillow stressed the importance of students having a sense of belonging in the community. With this foundation, students will become engaged learners, not passive receptors of information. In accordance with author Daniel Pink’s definition, motivated learners are those who have autonomy, mastery, purpose, and curiosity in the material.
The faculty broke out into groups to exercise their thoughts. The first breakout group required the faculty to reflect on what values should never change at KO. Based on the overwhelming feedback from all the groups, KO’s strong community connections set KO apart from all other schools. The second activity, and the one that allowed for the big, hairy audacious ideas, asked the teachers to create headlines for newspapers regarding the achievements of KO students in five years. From students working with architects and engineers in designing a new community space, building an app to end local hunger, and designing a ninth-grade program that rethinks the high school experience, there was no shortage of creativity.
A strategic design team has been established to navigate the process ahead. Members include board member Meg Cahill Becker, ’97 board member Mark Conrad ’96, Head of School Tom Dillow, faculty member Kathleen DiSanto ’03, Upper School Head Dan Gleason, board member and Co-Chair Mary Martin ’77, P ’18, ’20, faculty member Ron Monroe, staff member Julie Richardson, faculty member Anastasia Quinn, Assistant Head of School for External Affairs Zaira Santiago, Middle School Head and Co-Chair Ann Sciglimpaglia, board member and Parent Association Co-President Garfield Vaughn P ’20, ’21, ’23.