Aidan Montessori School Strategic Plan 2021

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Montessori for a Changing World

Strategic Plan 2021



what to expect

This strategic plan introduces ten strategic initiatives across four domains that are fundamental to Aidan’s maintenance of its Montessori strengths and evolution toward optimally meeting the needs of all children in the community. The domains are Community, Environment, Diversity and Inclusivity, and Talent.

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Introduction In the 2019-2020 school year, Aidan began a strategic planning process to set the course for the next decade. The last strategic plan, Aidan 2020: Envisioning Our Future, Embracing Our Past, served as a valuable guide to investing in our Children, our Culture, and our Community and remaining committed to Montessori excellence. Its conclusion meant that it was time to once again step back and think deeply about the future vision for Aidan and the investments and work necessary to progress toward that vision. Now, in Aidan’s 60th anniversary year, we look toward the next ten years with purpose and direction. The Board of Trustees knew there were some big questions to answer, but was committed to not predetermining the priorities and initiatives for Aidan. Instead, the strategic planning process was designed to actively solicit input from and include all the diverse voices in Aidan’s community. A steering committee that included faculty, staff, family members, parents, and board members guided and shaped the approach, and a series of focus groups with faculty, families and students provided rich commentary on the needs and preferences of the community. Two extensive surveys of faculty/staff and both current and alumni families provided opportunities for everyone in the community to share their perspectives and priorities. Over the course of this process, we heard from over 200 people about what they valued about Aidan, where they thought Aidan had room to grow, and how they hoped the school would evolve over the next decade. The resulting strategic plan introduces ten strategic initiatives across four domains that are fundamental to Aidan’s maintenance of its Montessori strengths and evolution toward optimally meeting the needs of all children in the community. The domains are Community, Environment, Diversity and Inclusivity, and Talent.

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Strategic Initiatives Focus Areas Community

Environment

Diversity & Inclusivity

Talent

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Community Aidan is both a home for families and a leader in the broader Montessori movement — so initiatives in this domain are focused on both strengthening our internal school community and continuing to lead in our external community. Both of these communities have changed over the last decade. Internally, the community of families at Aidan has diversified ethnically, racially, and economically, with more families enrolling in which both parents work outside of the home full-time. Externally, several public Montessori schools have opened in DC, and more children are enrolled in Montessori programs than ever before. Aidan will evolve to reflect these changes. The initiatives in this domain aim to better engage all families in the school, strengthen communications, and provide consistent visibility into children’s classrooms and the Montessori approach. Externally, Aidan aims to continue to learn and lead in the Montessori movement in DC and nationwide.

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Community Strategic Initiative

01

02

Enhance the Aidan community for families,

Engage with the Montessori community

focusing particularly on engaging new

in DC and beyond to learn and lead in the

families and families with varying ability

Montessori movement nationwide.

to devote time to school events; provide a consistent Aidan community experience for families with children across age bands.

Aidan has a long history and legacy as a leader in the Montessori community. As that community grows and changes in DC and

One of Aidan’s greatest strengths has always been

beyond, it is important for Aidan to actively

the tight-knit community of families committed to a

participate and contribute. By recommitting

Montessori education, and today, our community of

and strategically investing in the wider DC

families is more varied than ever. As our community

Montessori landscape, Aidan will learn from the

has diversified, we must continue to cultivate strong

innovation of others, share our experiences and

relationships between families, faculty, and staff.

learnings from our six decades of commitment

Just as we individualize education for every child,

to the Montessori model, further solidify our

so we will individualize opportunities for families to

reputation, and strengthen the quality and

engage with us. No matter how much time families

demand for Montessori education in the region.

have to commit to school events, or how else life might get in the way, all families should have visibility into their child’s classroom, an understanding of their child’s progress, and a place at Aidan.

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Focus and improve Aidan communications with families to ensure consistent visibility into children’s classroom activities, and to convey the ways Aidan incorporates and responds to family perspectives when making decisions. Aidan will refine its communication from classroom teachers and the administration to ensure that all families are well informed about their children’s progress. Aidan’s classrooms are designed to nurture independence, self-direction, and self-motivation. While “following the child,” we know that to create an optimum Montessori education, we also need to facilitate the participation of families. To allow for that informed participation, we will focus on ensuring that all families are offered opportunities for appropriate and consistent visibility into their child’s classroom activities, enabling families to understand their child’s development and build on the joyful learning they experience in the classroom. Aidan will continue to offer parent education, especially in regard to Montessori education, with this same goal in mind. As our families continue to become even more diverse in their lifestyles, needs, and preferences, Aidan will, when appropriate, solicit the perspectives of parents and take them into consideration in its decision-making processes.

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Environment Montessori education is founded upon self-directed experiential learning. Both prepared classroom environments indoors and access to the natural outdoors provide the parameters in which children’s curiosity blossoms and project-based learning happens. As an urban Montessori school in the heart of Woodley Park, Aidan is unique and must continue to find ways to faithfully deliver on the Montessori model while taking advantage of the rich opportunities the city has to offer. Aidan will continue to augment its access and use of both indoor and outdoor spaces to design the best possible Montessori environments for its students.

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Environment Strategic Initiative

04

Augment students’ experiences by making targeted improvements to the current facility. Aidan is housed in a historic building in a vibrant DC neighborhood and remains committed to providing a nurturing Montessori education in an urban and accessible environment. Having recently completed a series of significant improvements to the windows, elevator, lighting, and HVAC system, Aidan will continue to invest in focused upgrades to our existing facility to optimize the learning environment for Aidan students. Our sunny classrooms are wonderful prepared environments with all the Montessori materials that meet AMI standards necessary to cultivate a love of learning, and our location in Woodley Park is prime. Our experienced staff is committed, on a daily basis, to ensure the beautification of the indoor/outdoor prepared environment to cultivate the love of learning and foster the child’s developmental needs.

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Enrich students’ Montessori learning by increasing access to and use of outdoor spaces. Aidan is an urban Montessori school with all the unique advantages of learning in our diverse American capital. We recognize, however, that children must have dedicated outdoor time to understand the order, harmony, and beauty of nature; the outdoors are an extension of the ordered classroom. We will prioritize giving Aidan students the opportunity to learn in the Montessori classroom environment, in DC’s cultural spaces, and outdoors.

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Diversity & Inclusivity At Aidan, we believe that educational excellence requires an inclusive and diverse community. We have long been committed to the principles of respect, equity, justice, humanity, peace, and personal responsibility. To prepare our students to be contributing members of the global community, we are strengthening our efforts to build a diverse family, student, faculty, and staff community, and to embrace and celebrate differences. We know the work of honoring diversity and opposing discrimination is never done, and we will work diligently and strategically to continue to improve.

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Diversity & Inclusivity Strategic Initiative

06

07

Prepare all Aidan students to be productive

Incorporate supplemental materials into

members of society by further training staff

the Aidan experience to increase inclusivity

for “teachable moments” and increasing the

while maintaining Montessori principles.

inclusiveness of school activities and events.

In our classroom communities, we strive to provide

At Aidan, we embrace and celebrate the diversity

the right setting, materials, and program to foster

of our world. Our differences—including those of

peace and embrace differences. By promoting

culture, race, ethnicity, religion, age, family structure,

inclusion and collaboration, we encourage each

sex and sexual orientation, gender identity and

other to be open-minded and appreciative of

expression, socioeconomics, learning style, and

different ideas. Aidan will introduce supplemental

worldview, among others—form and inform a rich

materials and activities to make learning more

environment that is a crucial part of educating

inclusive and culturally diverse. These materials

our children on their path to maturity and global

will complement and build on Montessori tenets.

citizenship. We know that our teachers play a critical role in guiding students on that path. We commit to equipping our faculty, staff, and families to seize any “teachable moments” as an opportunity for children to learn to understand and celebrate this diversity. Our community is strengthened and enriched by our additional school activities and events, and we will take visible steps to increasing their inclusivity as well.

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Invest in increasing the diversity of Aidan’s faculty and staff. Always leading by example in the Montessori space, Aidan is committed to continuing to diversify Aidan’s faculty and staff across all levels. Diverse faculty, by bringing in different perspectives, life experiences, and celebrations, will improve the learning experience for all Aidan students, and will better prepare them for a world after Aidan. We hope that increasing the diversity of our faculty and staff will help to attract and retain more diverse families, as well.

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Talent The highly-trained, experienced, enthusiastic, caring faculty and staff are the heart of the Aidan experience. Investing in attracting, retaining, and creating the best possible experience for Aidan’s talent is critical to Aidan’s nurturing and rigorous Montessori education.

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Talent

Strategic Initiative

09

Attract and retain the best possible Montessori talent.

Aidan’s mission is to enable all children to realize

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Endeavor to always keep Montessori principles in mind when staff, faculty and administration engage in the work of the school.

their richest potential for learning and to become

Children observe and learn from every interaction. It

independent, self-motivated, and contributing

is not enough to apply Montessori principles when

members of the world community. While we “follow

interacting with children. We must purposefully

the child” and foster a natural love of learning and

work in Montessori tenets and principles in all

independence, we know that our ability to do so

aspects at Aidan. By designing processes and

hinges on our talented Montessori faculty and

modes of working for adults that adhere to

staff. Further, as we undertake many of the other

Montessori principles, we will be reinforcing the

initiatives outlined in this strategic plan, we will

examples set in the classroom for students.

need expert Montessori talent to ensure we are remaining committed to Montessori principles even as we build on the Montessori model to reflect our changing world. We will continue to focus on and invest in attracting and retaining the most motivated, thoughtful, caring, and skilled educators.

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Strategic Initiatives Community

01

Enhance the Aidan community for families, focusing particularly on engaging new families and families with varying ability to devote time to school events; provide a consistent Aidan community experience for families with children across age bands.

ngage with the Montessori community in DC and beyond to 02 Elearn and lead in the Montessori movement nationwide. 03

Focus and improve Aidan communications with families to ensure consistent visibility into children’s classroom activities, and to convey the ways Aidan incorporates and responds to family perspectives when making decisions.

Environment

04

Augment students’ experiences by making targeted improvements to the current facility.

nrich students’ Montessori learning by increasing 05 Eaccess to and use of outdoor spaces.

Diversity & Inclusivity

Talent 20 | Aidan Strategic Plan 2021

06

Prepare all Aidan students to be productive members of society by further training staff for “teachable moments” and increasing the inclusiveness of school activities and events.

ncorporate supplemental materials into the Aidan experience to 07 Iincrease inclusivity while maintaining Montessori principles. 08

Invest in increasing the diversity of Aidan’s faculty and staff.

09

Attract and retain the best possible Montessori talent.

10

Endeavor to always keep Montessori principles in mind when staff, faculty and administration engage in the work of the school.


Thank You

Thank you to our parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees who supported the development of Aidan’s new strategic plan by participating in surveys, interviews, and focus groups. We would also like to acknowledge the team at EdOps led by Natalia Bovkun and Vera Krimnus for their guidance throughout the strategic planning process. A special thanks to members of our Board Strategic Planning Committee, Strategic Planning Steering Committee, and Strategic Initiative Sub-Committees focused on Community, Environment, Diversity & Inclusivity, and Talent.

Strategic Planning Committee Board Strategic Planning Committee

Strategic Planning Steering Committee

Leanne Davis, chair

Leanne Davis, chair

Yong Kwon

Kevin Clark

Nicole Barba

Sharee Lawler

Rachel Li

Kevin Clark

Grace Lee

Jennifer Paige

Adrienne Foster

Kennedy Wright

Emily Skor

Elizabeth Henke

Kevin Ward

Kennedy Wright

Julia Isaza

Vernon Weathers

Shilpa Khatri Community

Environment

Diversity & Inclusivity

Talent

Nicole Goodman, chair

Phillip Katinas, chair

Jackie Gibson-Barrow, chair

Jimi Purse, chair

Katie Gaetke

Nicole Barba

Adrienne Foster

Grace Lee

Grace Lee

Blake Brophy

Kirk Freeman

Denise Merkel

Katia Kozhakova

Jennifer Roush

Nell Stewart

Rebecca Neuburger

Amanda Sauer

Vernon Weathers

Margaret Skor Aidan Strategic Plan 2021 | 21


2700 27th Street | Washington, DC 20008 | AidanSchool.org


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