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"Toward a more caring and just society": a strategic planning update from the board

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

We are excited to share with you a brief update on our strategic planning process. As you know, much work has been done over the past two years to discern strategic goals that will guide us through 2020. This past spring, a group of trustees and administrators met to review the strategic pathways to date. Through our conversation, we recognized that our work more accurately fell into three (3) strategic pathways, and thus distilled the plan from four to three major areas, while keeping the same essential goals and activities, with an overarching vision of working "toward a more caring and just society."

In the spirit of continuing revelation, we have used the process of queries to help guide our thinking. Our three guiding queries for our strategic plan are the following:

  • As a school with a public purpose, how might we deepen our commitment to being an ever more engaged and inclusive community?
  • How might we continue to ensure our children enjoy a robust and innovative educational experience, animated by Quaker values?
  • How might we better support our community, priorities and values through a sustainable financial model rooted in stewardship and inclusion?

We have outlined preliminary goals for each query, and our shared work as a community through this school year (2017-2018) will be to identify what activities are needed to achieve our goals as well as the appropriate metrics and milestones to measure our progress.

Over the summer and past few months, several committees and task forces have been working hard to continue progress on the plan. The Board of Trustees and administrators spent much of their September retreat and October board meeting in working sessions focused on further developing plan goals. This work is now continuing in regular meetings of committees and task forces comprising board trustees and the professional community.

Following are the groups working on each strategic pathway at this time and their goals:

Engaged and Inclusive Community
Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee, Committee on Trustees, Accessibility & Professional Experience Committee (APEC), Quaker Life Committee


  • Augment equity and inclusion in hiring, enrollment, and board composition
  • Refine the school’s practices to ensure an ever more inclusive and equitable experience for all
  • Support socio-economic diversity throughout the SFFS experience
  • Increase diversity across multiple demographic areas
  • Engage with students, families and communities to further SFFS spiritual vitality, public purpose, and identity

Activities to date have included:

  • The Equity & Inclusion Committee has adopted an overall framework of cultural humility to guide its work, and is working with Admissions and Finance to analyze data to better inform our goals.
  • The Committee on Trustees is exploring ways to widen its outreach in order to diversify the Board.
  • The APEC committee is exploring additional ways to foster socio-economic diversity in all aspects of the SFFS experience.

Robust and Innovative Educational Experience
Administrative Team, High School Working Group, Facilities Committee


  • Further our commitment to academic excellence by supporting and refining our robust and innovative educational and co-curricular program
  • Design and implement refinements to curriculum and support for a full range of learners
  • Develop mission-driven facility master plan
  • Explore the potential to increase our reach and impact by developing a high school program and/or expanding student population in middle school and/or range of learners we serve

Activities to date have included:

  • The Developmental Support (DS) team, along with faculty and academic admin, are working to review and refine learning support practices in both Lower School and Middle School, with an eye for potential gaps and opportunities, and making improvements where necessary to better support students and teachers.
  • The academic admin team has spent the past year working with faculty in a schedule committee to build upon work of the previous schedule committee and research schedules at other schools. The current schedule is dependent on crossover teachers and space restrictions, thus constraining our flexibility for both Lower School and Middle School. The work for this year will be focused on laying the groundwork for a major restructuring in 2018-19, primarily for the Middle School, that will better support our curriculum, project integration, and faculty-student and faculty-faculty collaboration.
  • Academic Dean Tracie M. and Lower School Head Jennifer A. orchestrated a comprehensive review last year of science instruction in the Lower School, and the Lower School team is implementing an increasingly inquiry-based approach for the 2017-18 school year.
  • The Facilities Committee has begun work on a facilities master plan with our architects Pfau Long, considering our current use and future needs.  
  • The High School Working Group has been researching and reviewing case studies of Quaker high schools and innovative models of other independent high schools, and opened a conversation with local high school heads of school about our discernment process. The group has refined its list of non-negotiable requirements, reviewed  demographic analyses and is currently learning more about potential buildout and program costs. Alumni and alumni-parent surveys are planned for later this year.

Sustainable Financial Model
Finance Committee, Development Committee, APEC


  • Fortify our mission-aligned financial model to advance the goals of sustainability, economic accessibility and attracting, retaining, and supporting our talented professionals
  • Explore new revenue potential including, but not limited to, re-imagined fundraising strategies

Activities to date have included:

  • The Finance and APEC Committees are exploring ways in which to support our professional community in our increasingly expensive local economy, while also keeping the net cost of an SFFS education as affordable as practicable. The group has been taking a comprehensive look at the professional experience, including compensation, benefits, housing, and more, and plans to disseminate a survey to learn more about the needs of the professional community.
  • The Development Committee is working to deepen philanthropic support of SFFS. To date, this has included an increased focus on stewardship and donor education around the school’s finances and the importance of fundraising, as well as the exploration of a major gifts program that aligns with the school’s culture and values. We have retained the counsel of Jim McKey, a consultant with Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A) who has extensive fundraising experience with Quaker schools, to help with this initiative.

Throughout the coming 2017-2018 school year, representatives of committees working on common pathways will meet several times to align their work and review progress. We look forward to reviewing output from these groups and continuing to gather your input and communicate our progress over the coming months. If you have any comments, feedback or questions along the way, please do not hesitate to contact either or both of us.