Strategic Vision for AFS

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Leading By Design Education for a Changing World The Strategic Vision for Abington Friends School 2011-2017

A Friends School for the 21st Century Abington Friends School has been inspired by a distinctive vision of Quaker education for more than 300 years. We see the power of lives lived with a strong sense of inner spirit and an active and hopeful engagement with the larger world. That dynamic of personal depth and outward vitality captures the potential we see and nurture so fully in our students. We cultivate reflection, discernment and inner stillness to ground children for a dynamic, changing world. And we build skills of leadership, collaboration, initiative and continual learning to ensure a lifetime of full participation in creating a more just and humane world. The 315-year history of Abington Friends School has been one of both constancy and change. A historical look at the past 125 years shows longstanding commitments to independent thinking, engagement with the broader world and contemporary issues, deep respect for individuals and the diverse perspectives we bring to each other and an attunement to and reverence for the sacredness of life. There is a perennial freshness of thinking that runs through every era of our history and is strongly palpable in today’s AFS. A clear line of growth and vitality marks the recent history of the School. In the ’60s and ’70s, we returned to coeducation, moved to our current campus from the Triangle Building. During the ’80s and ’90s we saw tremendous growth in our diversity and geographical reach and deepened our strong grounding in Quaker thought, practice and worship. The 1997 plan and ensuing Ever Stronger Campaign brought a significantly expanded program in academics and the arts in addition to beautiful new spaces for learning, including the luminous Faulkner Library and Learning Center and the classrooms of Student Street in the Upper School, as well as significant expansion to the academic program. The 2006 Strategic Plan and the Vision in Action Campaign that followed invested energetically in supporting teachers and students alike as active, creative learners in a resource-rich world, adding new technology and research resources, launching the visionary ECCO program for connecting students with transformative experiences in the wider world, creating groundbreaking models of professional learning and establishing better compensation for faculty. Driven by the guiding principle that “great schools are lit from within,” we have grown into a powerful culture of new learning, innovation and engagement with the world around us. After a year of research and collaboration across all constituencies and with deep confidence in the power of the AFS vision for education in the 21st century, we are excited to share our 2011 Strategic Plan for Abington Friends School.

Leading by Design Our year of reflection, analysis and strategic planning has clearly revealed to us a school in upward motion. A powerful momentum is driving innovative programming in 21st-century education—sustainability, networked learning communities, connections to the larger world and national leadership in diversity and multiculturalism. We are a culture of serious achievement, profoundly healthy at its core, with a deep Quaker respect for the whole, individual child and for his and her place in the community, and a passionate commitment to the growth— in spirit, intellect, leadership and relationships—of each individual student. At AFS, we understand that we are educating in and for a changing world, one that is more dynamic, entrepreneurial, diverse, collaborative and interdependent than we’ve ever known. While many schools have staged a retreat to traditionalism or remain mired in bureaucracy and misconceived demands for accountability, the culture of reflection, inquiry, outreach and continual learning at the heart of AFS has led us to a renaissance of fresh thinking. We are fully immersed in creating an energized, ambitious and relevant environment for both our students and teachers. Three key elements are at the core of our current strength and propel us to offer the best possible education for the world of which our students are a part and which they now are entering: • Deep grounding in Quaker thought and practice orients us to a generous and hopeful vision of who children are and can be—and inspires an atmosphere where they can grow and flourish as whole human beings. Essential healthfulness and enduring values provide essential roots in a world of change. • An environment of continual, collaborative learning in a resource-rich world encourages active research, highest standards for best practice and a dynamic relationship with the outside world. Such a culture of learning becomes the living heart of a relevant education— and an engine for continual refinement and growth in our programs. • A clear understanding of our needs ensures strength as an institution well into the future— in human resources, finances, facilities, enrollment, philanthropy and strong standing and partnerships in our community and region.

Our dynamic culture of learning and discovery, grounded in Quaker wisdom and practice, has led us to an exciting set of next steps that will further unlock the power of collaboration in our community, create additional innovative and engaging learning spaces, improve our beautiful campus, continue to develop contemporary strands of curriculum and fully realize an exceptionally compelling—and distinctly AFS—vision of education for a changing world.

Design for Learning:

program The major program initiatives of our strategic plan build on the momentum and themes of our recent work, create ideal spaces for student and faculty learning, connect our students to the larger world in new ways and promote key strands of 21st century curriculum.


Our Vision A Community Designed for a Contemporary Quaker Education At the heart of our plan is a new blueprint for our Early Childhood, Lower and Middle Schools and ambitious plans for our Upper School that promotes collaboration, deeper connections in the curriculum and with families and a close focus on creating the ideal environment for each age group.

Early Childhood/Lower School: An Innovative Integrated Program Our nationally known and state recognized Early Childhood program will finally be fully integrated into our main campus, creating an Early Childhood/Lower School program and community that fulfills our ambitious dreams for a world-class learning environment for our younger students. Featuring newly designed classroom spaces, an outdoor classroom designed and accredited by the Arbor Day Foundation (the first of its kind in Pennsylvania) and a child-centered curriculum rooted in building skills of observation, problem-solving, inquiry and richly developed numeracy and literacy, the new division will serve children ages 3 to grade four.

Middle School: Ideally Designed for Each Developmental Stage Our plan for Middle School includes a new learning community that is perfectly designed for 5th and 6th graders, in addition to our strong program for 7th and 8th graders. Ten and eleven year olds share a joyful and industrious spirit at the peak of their developmental stage. A classroom environment and curriculum that takes full advantage of this age group’s readiness for new learning, new opportunities in athletics, arts and activities and marked academic growth is our goal, building on the outstanding programs we have created in each grade over the years. A beautifully designed suite of classrooms and flexible spaces indoors and out complete the vision. An equally apt environment for the growing independence, leadership, range of interests and readiness for new academic challenges is the plan for our 7th and 8th grade students, again building on a very strong Middle School foundation and philosophy that has developed over many years at AFS.



Upper School: A Complete Education for a Changing World Our plans for Upper School are powered by our vision for education for a changing world and our conviction that readiness to lead and thrive will come from outstanding, contemporary academic preparation, opportunities to connect meaningfully with the outside world during high school, an advisory system that leads to the right opportunities at AFS and college and a comprehensive approach to building skills for reflection, discernment, leadership and empowerment in a diverse world. Our ideal Upper School builds on our current strong program to include emerging offerings in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), languages, sustainability and digital production; an enhanced college guidance program that moves students thoughtfully toward the best opportunities

available to them for college placement; continued growth in the innovative ECCO program to connect to transformative experiences in the larger world; a re-designed service program to build initiative, leadership and meaningful contribution and efficacy in the real world.

Âť Action Steps A year of program and facilities development, including summer fellowships, the formation of teaching teams and curriculum development. Opening of the redesigned Early Childhood/ Lower School and Middle School divisions in the fall of 2012


Design for Learning:

campus AFS has occupied the same beautiful grounds for more than 300 years. We are blessed with abundant green space, magnificent trees, a winding creek and a built campus that has grown over time to serve our evolving needs. Through the strategic planning process, and with input from the Friends of AFS Athletics Committee, we have identified a range of key facilities investments that will transform our students’ daily experience of the campus and create a perfect environment for learning.


A Master Plan Athletics Facilities Improvements • Expansion of the Hallowell Gym • An all-weather track facility • A multipurpose field house • Development of the Abington Club Property

» Action Steps Arts Facilities Improvements • Expansion of the Muller Auditorium to include technical theater and expanded rehearsal spaces • Addition of air conditioning to the Tyson Arts Wing

Academic Facilities Improvements: • Bold development of the outdoor campus as a resource for learning and sustainability initiatives including the development of outdoor classrooms for the Lower School and the continued development of a vegetable garden as part of the Middle and Upper School curriculum, and to supply produce for the cafeteria. • Full integration of SmartBoard technology and one-to-one computing support • Substantial renovations to Upper School classrooms that were not completed in the last campaign • Expanded resources and equipment for state of the art math and science programming


Conduct a feasibility study during the fall of 2011 to prioritize and sequence campus improvements over the next 5-10 years and establish the foundation for the School’s next capital campaign.



Design for Learning:

community We see the power of experiential education to fully engage and inspire our students. In the last several years we have been rapidly expanding an ongoing series of partnerships through which our students have participated in transformative internships, travel, arts and athletics opportunities beyond the walls of the School. We have also been developing our voice of professional leadership in the field of education, sharing our vision and findings widely in national conferences, publications and in professional development offerings on the AFS campus. We envision becoming a leading resource in sharing our distinctive educational vision and programs with the surrounding community and within the larger world of independent education.




Our Vision AFS will develop: • An ever broadening landscape of learning and involvement for our students through service learning and independent study connections and relationships in the region • New opportunities for the surrounding community to take part in AFS programs as students, parents, community partners and education professionals • A growing voice of leadership in the independent school world through regional and national conferences • A richer range of partnerships for our students and faculty in our surrounding neighborhood and region

» Action Steps Research an innovative model for offering arts, athletics, academic, summer camp and professional learning to AFS and the surrounding community. Expand AFS faculty professional presentations. Advance our role as host to lecture series and conferences on campus. Continue to develop the ECCO program. Expand AFS civic involvement with Jenkintown and regional partners.



Infrastructure Supports to Achieve our Program Goals Sustained Financial Health Developing the Strategic Plan entailed building a long term financial and business plan to fund facilities, faculty and program as we envision them at their best. Our continued financial health depends on: • Meeting goals of our ideal enrollment model through enhanced branding and marketing efforts • Developing reserves for long-term investments in program, facilities and faculty salaries • Successful development initiatives for capital projects and ongoing annual support

Culture of Philanthropy We must also develop a deeper culture of philanthropy. We aim to better engender the deep support of our constituencies to reach all of our goals in program and facilities and attain the level of development support comparable to our peer schools. To meet our development goals we must: • Engage the community in the goals of the Strategic Plan and tap into our constituencies’ passion for the School • Develop research, outreach and relationship building initiatives • Thoughtfully engage the next generation of leadership giving among alumni, parents and friends of the School • Build relationships with alumni and develop alumni support


Effective Communications Our strategic plan calls for continued growth in branding and marketing the School with consistency, discipline and strategy in our publications, facilities, outreach and processes; and continued growth in our relationships and civic involvement in the local community. Through effective communications, we will support enrollment growth, make pride in AFS evident and visible and strengthen AFS as a community resource. This will include: • Highlighting the existing physical beauty and serenity of AFS’ campus for internal and external constituents through a new signage system that clearly directs visitors to points of interest. • Developing a comprehensive Marketing plan to augment existing Communications and Admissions efforts. • Lifting up community accomplishment to enhance pride in AFS • Connecting faculty and staff with leaders in the local community in a consistent fashion • Strengthening connectivity within and among AFS groups (grade parents, faculty across divisions)

Strategic Planning Committee Margie McGlynn, clerk Crissy Cáceres David Campbell Heather Garrison Mark Garrison Martha Holland Peter Schorsch Michael Sperger Debbie Stauffer Rich Nourie


575 Washington Lane / Jenkintown, PA 19046 215-576-3996 /

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