Last year St. Stephen's Episcopal School created a strategic plan to guide the work over the next 5-6 years. Titled Vision 2020, the plan was created with an toward growing the school in a sustainable way. The plan is built around 4 specific strategic goals - each are discussed below. This is a slightly abridged form of the Annual Report for the School last year (2013-2014).
Vision 2020 is framed by four overarching strategic goals for the school community. They are:
· To develop a shared vision between St. Stephen’s church and school that serves as a progressive model for other education and religious institutions.
· To offer a comprehensive curriculum and spiritual formation for students 15 months to 18 years, inspired by Montessori and Episcopal principles, in preparation for higher learning.
· To create platforms for support of the facilitation and advancement of SSESH’s operations and other strategic priorities.
· To build a more diverse school community and be an employer of choice for faculty and staff that also strengthens the cultural experience of the school.
Strategic Goal One: To develop a shared vision between St. Stephen’s church and school that serves as a progressive model for other education and religious institutions.
We are committed to our shared values. One of the first steps toward constructing a shared vision between the church and school community was a joint initiative to identify Six Shared Core Values. They are:
We cherish the future
We affirm individuality
We question everything
We build relationships
We practice service
These values are the focal point of internal reflection on how we relate with each other, with students, and how the church and school, staff and faculty interact. You will also see the expression of these values given priority on our website and in print materials.
Manifesting these shared values is shared work. The church and the school have been partners for many years, but it has only been in the last several that the partnership has truly flourished. Indeed, the accrediting team from the Southwest Association of Episcopal Schools noted the improved relationship and deep respect between the leadership of the two institutions.
Strategic Goal Two: To offer a comprehensive curriculum and spiritual formation for students 15 months to 18 years, inspired by Montessori and Episcopal principles, in preparation for higher learning.
We are committed to our curriculum and consistent, thoughtful communication among families and administration. Regular communications will share the cohesion of our programs and how they serve SSESH students. Special emphasis will be placed on how the progression from Orientation to 12th grade has been thoughtfully developed and managed. Our communications will emphasize the significance of our acceptance into the IB program. With this recent IB certification, we are transitioning to a more rigorous course of study in math, science, humanities, Spanish, and the visual arts. 99% of our graduates attend college, and 100% of those who apply are accepted. We are creating a plan to communicate more regularly with alumni, sharing activities and initiatives at the School. We are more fully utilizing our website to communicate at all levels regarding our programs. We continue to pursue foundation grants to support many School programs.
Providing training and development of faculty and opportunities to work with our Montessori schools strengthens our program, solidifies our place in the Houston independent school network, and ensures a staff dedicated to our core values. A comprehensive religious education program sharing the Episcopal traditions and historical comparative religions will be established across all grade levels. Our curriculum will focus on rigorous academics in all grades in preparation for higher education. We will expand our Fine Arts Program so that is integrated with the curriculum of the school throughout all grade levels with offerings in music, drama, and studio art. We will expand our community service learning projects in our area for all grades. Our curriculum will utilize numerous resources of the surrounding neighborhoods, including the museums, universities, and theaters, while at the same time serving as a resource for others.
We are committed to our teachers by insuring our compensation and benefit packages remain competitive so that we attract and maintain faculty and staff. We offer program initiatives and opportunities for professional development to support the cultural diversity and richness of the staff’s pool of knowledge. Our teachers hold Montessori credentials at the level they serve, and funding is provided for instructional materials and equipment that match the credentials.
Strategic Goal Three: Institutional responsibility and growth to create platforms for support of the facilitation and advancement of SSESH’s operations and other strategic priorities.
We honor institutional responsibility and advancement of our School. We are defining a Master Plan to reach optimal capacity within all grades by 2020. We are developing a five-year financial plan, defining institutional principals and providing data for forecasts. We will study future fundraising campaigns in conjunction with our Capital Campaign Committee. An extensive marketing plan is being implemented with consistency in messaging and branding of Montessori, IMYC, IB, and Fine Arts curriculum. Our activities will be developed with a commitment to ecology, our environment, the value of all individuals, and the world around us.
We are dedicated to long term health, stability, and growth of both institutions. A shared vision between St. Stephen's Church and School will serve as a progressive model for other educational and religious institutions. We will maintain seamless internal and external communication systems between the Church and School. We continue to strengthen relationships between members of the Church and School community by establishing joint activities, including service projects. We remain dedicated to a diverse workforce and student body, maintaining the richness of St. Stephen’s Church and School in the Houston community.
Located in the Museum District, our neighborhood is experiencing rapid development with families seeking independent schools for their children. A progressive school offering classes for children 15 months to 18 years provides a unique opportunity for us. We begin with retaining and building upon our well-established and successful Montessori Program. Our Montessori children should form the majority of the Middle School and High School classes, ensuring that our values of academic independence, personal responsibility, community awareness, service, and spirituality are sustained in the secondary grades. To accommodate this growth in students, we will create additional classes in the lower levels and increase the size of each grade level by several students in the Primary, 7th, and 9th grades.
Strategic Goal Four: To build a more diverse school community and be an employer of choice for faculty and staff that also strengthens the cultural experience of the school.
The character of our community is a very important asset. In growing our school from the bottom up, our primary focus will be in accepting families who value our programs and respect our task of educating our students to be curious, global-minded, resourceful, academically capable, and spiritually aware individuals. Additionally, a larger school providing high-quality education to capable, underprivileged students is service that can create lasting change and influence the well being of a family or a community for generations.
We are committed to our admissions process and recruiting and admitting a diverse student body, fostering a respect for individual differences. We continue to vertically align the tracking of student progress, parent conferences, and reporting procedures. We are developing processes and systems for orienting and mentoring new teachers at the School and for admissions at the elementary level. We are utilizing our website to attract, retain, and inform new families regarding the admissions process.
We are committed to an environment that is respectful, healthy, and peaceful in which students genuinely care for each other. Students are committed to the school; they want to help one another; and they feel connected to teachers and peers. The School offers programs that support physical and emotional safety, including Welcoming Schools, The Center for the Healing of Racism, No Place for Hate, and Pinwheels for Peace. Students sign a “Resolution of Respect,” which was written by students and is prominently displayed in the main hallway. The School’s community service program allows students to choose activities with the approval of the Community Service Coordinator. Service hours are required as a part of the curriculum in the High School, and Middle School students participate twice each month in the meal and food distribution program at an area church. Our school culture embraces a multi-faceted definition of diversity with intentional respect for the “dignity of every human being.”