Monday, November 18, 2013

The Excitement of the Strategic Plan

Those of you who attended Parents Night earlier this fall heard about our new strategic plan. Every five years Gaston Day School completes a new Strategic Plan. Because it helps us prepare, we schedule this to happen a year before we enter the re-accrediting process with the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This time, our strategic planning process was different than in the past as we hired Independent School Management (ISM), the nation's leading consultant to independent schools, to assist us. The results were remarkable. ISM surveys revealed that Gaston Day families are extremely pleased with the school and willing to invest more in school improvement. The Strategic Plan outlines the major initiatives that we are undertaking to provide our students with the best education possible and fulfill the wishes of our parents.
Our number one priority is to triple the continuing education budget for our faculty. When faculty have the opportunity to learn more about something that interests them, they bring their new knowledge and a contagious enthusiasm back to school. Student and fellow colleagues benefit from their new insights. The entire culture becomes energized. As more faculty members pursue new continuing education opportunities each year, the excitement becomes a continuous feature of school life.
Another priority is to raise faculty salaries so we can hire and retain the best faculty. We want to compensate our teachers well so they can do what they love and earn a decent living.
Several items in the Strategic Plan were already underway before the consultant arrived. The iPad initiative has already put personal computers in the hands of the middle and upper school faculty. We will supply our upper and middle school students with iPads over the next two years. Additionally, Kim Schneider has been promoted to a new position as Director of Instructional Technology. Ms. Schneider is doing a wonderful job training our faculty on ways to use technology in teaching.
The new security system was also planned before we began our formal strategic planning. The new remote access cards and locked door are now in place. The system has been installed and is operating with a minimum of disturbance to the school. Gaston Day School is safer and more secure.
Other elements of the Strategic Plan will be completed over the next several years. We will be hiring a part-time guidance counselor next year and a Dean of Students (responsible for student discipline and student life outside the classroom) the following year for the middle and upper schools. In three years, we will add a second floor above the lower dining hall to create more classroom space. With waiting lists growing in many grades, the additional space will allow us to increase enrollment.
All these plans and initiatives presume and depend upon achieving reasonable enrollment goals. The Strategic Plan has created an enormous sense of optimism and momentum among Gaston Day faculty and staff. We are so excited to be making the school even better for your children. Thank you so much, Gaston Day Community, for your vision and support for the Strategic Plan. We can hardly wait to make it all happen!