Branching Out. Growing Together. Sanford School's 2023 Strategic Direction

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S A N F O R D S C H O O L’ S 2 0 2 3 S T R AT E G I C D I R E C T I O N

BRANCHING OUT GROWING TOGETHER When you grow from strong roots, there’s no limit to how high you can reach.


hat’s always been Sanford School’s approach – tend to our legacy, nurture our community, and never stop expanding up and outward.

We are an always-growing, constantly evolving school that relies both on our sound foundation and ambitious upward vision to flourish and thrive. We made a commitment to be Bolder. Brighter. Stronger. – and that vision is alive across our campus today. By recommitting to educational excellence; diversity, equity, and inclusion; sound finance and enrollment management; and fundraising that fuels future growth opportunities and campus improvements, Sanford showed what’s possible when we invest in lofty goals. Now that the foundation is set, we’re expanding once again – Branching Out, Growing Together – as we continue to build upon the excellence we’ve achieved since 1930.

Our Mission Sanford School identifies and develops the intellectual and creative talents of a diverse group of students. Within a caring and supportive college preparatory environment, students are encouraged and challenged to achieve their finest in academics, athletics, and the arts. Our ultimate goal is to teach students to live humanely within the Sanford community in order to prepare them to meet the demands and responsibilities of the future in the broader world.

Dear Sanford Community, We are excited to share Sanford’s next Strategic Direction document: Branching Out, Growing Together. This project was the collaboration of Board and school leaders, faculty, and staff and based on the ideas and feedback from students, parents, and alumni. The priorities in this plan offer an honest snapshot of the opportunities and challenges we face as a school in 2023; more importantly, this document lays out the direction for how our wonderful school can be an even better and stronger Sanford. Sanford has grown tremendously over the past several years. Everything from our enrollment, finances, fundraising, facilities, and programs is stronger than just a decade ago. But we are not content to allow Sanford’s success to plateau. For nearly 100 years, the Sanford community has risen to any challenges the school faced. We look forward to the exciting journey ahead as we Branch Out and Grow Together.

Warmly, Mark J. Anderson Head of School

Jason Russell, President, Board of Trustees

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES The strategic priorities that will help us grow together & maintain our position as a leader in educational excellence in Delaware independent schools Cultivating Educational Excellence

Fostering Financial Health

Sanford School’s student-centered approach to education develops the intellectual and creative talents of a diverse group of students – resulting in graduates who are recognized for their knowledge, kindness, compassion, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

The Sanford experience is an exceptional one and one that more families should have the opportunity to experience.

Our goal is to continue to differentiate our school by prioritizing faculty-driven, student-focused programs and outcomes that make the most of our beautiful college-like campus.

To be the superior choice among Preschool-12 Delaware schools and to secure the school’s sustainability and resiliency for future generations, we must be proactive and strategic with our enrollment management and financial practices.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. - Ralph Waldo Emerson Nurturing an Inclusive Culture

Enriching Our Future

At Sanford, we take seriously the responsibility of shaping curious and empathetic members of society who have an appreciation for the diversity of the world we share.

Sanford is known for hiring the best teachers and providing excellent educational programs within state-of-the-art facilities and a safe environment – yet there is room for growth.

To foster a welcoming community where all students and faculty feel seen, safe, supported, and able to reach their full potential, Sanford must serve as the standard for excellence in creating an inclusive and engaged culture.

To be a leader in fundraising acumen and overall campus appeal and functionality, we must increase consistent family and alumni financial contributions, gain more local and regional media recognition, and proactively engage strategic partnerships to fuel capital improvements.

CULTIVATNG EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE We will deliver student-centered education that meets students where they are and propels them to their highest levels. Advance an academic program that offers students multiple pathways to success.

Expand learning opportunities beyond academics to help students discover their talents and passions.

Sanford will provide students with flexibility, support, adaptability, and student-centered learning to achieve excellence in our college preparatory program and beyond.

By further emphasizing the development of the whole student, Sanford will couple academic success with the acquisition of personalized skills and experiences.

We will develop creative and innovative ways for students to access different levels of learning, such as: n Additional college partnerships for dual/early

credits. n High-level enrichment opportunities. n More choice/voice in classroom activities,

vibrant electives, and specials. n Add more real-life skill courses.

This expansive approach to learning – which includes additional opportunities in STEM, humanities, athletics, performing and visual arts, wellness, civic engagement, and student leadership – will help students develop resilience, persistence, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, teamwork, communication skills, and emotional intelligence.

Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings. - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foster a campus culture where students live our motto, “No Talent Lies Latent.” We aim to ensure all Sanford students are confident in the knowledge that they are seen, heard, and important to our school and community. This respect is at the core of Sanford’s facultystudent relationship, which inspires students to live respectfully and compassionately and succeed within the classroom and beyond.

Recruit, hire, develop, and retain faculty who support Sanford’s mission and strengthen our culture. Sanford aims to create the best possible learning environment for both our students and our teachers by supporting a culture of ongoing faculty growth and education. We will continue to provide faculty with new, meaningful opportunities for internal and external professional development and more avenues to serve as leaders and mentors.


We will secure the school’s financial sustainability through strategic enrollment and financial practices. Strategically manage the school’s enrollment to align with Sanford’s mission. Our mission is to proactively and continuously identify, assess, adjust, and execute strategic objectives to create resiliency and ensure the long-term financial stability of the school. We will ensure Sanford remains competitive with other schools by: n Monitoring school enrollment trends. n Conducting regular tuition and financial aid

reviews. n Exploring innovative pricing models that will enable us to provide more families with the Sanford experience while securing the school’s financial health.

Monitor, anticipate, and proactively address market effects on school enrollment and finances. We will create forward-looking plans that enable Sanford to maximize our preparedness for potential market impacts, both positive and negative, and leverage learnings from our pandemic response to create a nimble and flexible approach to school management innovation.

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. - Frances Hodgson Burnett Ensure competitive faculty and staff compensation and benefits. Our faculty and staff are among the most dedicated professionals in the industry, and they are critical to our ability to deliver on the Sanford promise. We recognize the additional commitment it takes to do this work in today’s times. Sanford will support these remarkable professionals by: n Increasing diverse faculty and staff representation

through recruitment opportunities and networking. n Creating an intentional retention strategy. n Comparing salary and benefits packages to industry benchmarks. n Finding new ways to honor and celebrate our employees.

NURTURING AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE The Sanford community embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion to create an environment of belonging. This work is never complete, and we continue to listen, learn, engage, and act. Support a diverse and empathetic community. At Sanford, we fully honor the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff. Our goal is to ingrain equity and inclusion in the fabric of our school through representation, curriculum, policy, and culture. Through purposeful engagement and outreach across various backgrounds with students, faculty, staff, families, and the Board; we will broaden our pool of under-represented populations and retain diverse talent.

Promote and celebrate an inclusive school community. Sanford wants all students, faculty, staff, and families to succeed and thrive by embracing their authentic selves. To foster this inclusive culture, we will: n Encourage learning, healthy and respectful dialogue, good citizenship, and positive relationships; expand the inclusive practice of cultural celebrations. n Develop consistent training for faculty, administration, and the Board. n Promote, engage, and partner on DEI initiatives within the Delaware Association of Independent Schools (DAIS) community.

Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature. - Steve Maraboli Enrich our learning environment by further integrating DEI into the Sanford experience. n We aim to prepare Sanford students to lead

and contribute to an increasingly diverse and complex society. n We will continue to revisit and/or include

relevant coursework and projects to encompass the experiences that represent the rich diversity of our community. n We will broaden and strengthen

community engagement programs to learn and grow together.


We will ensure Sanford has the financial assets and state-of-the-art, environmentally responsible facilities necessary to provide excellent educational programs. Update our campus master plan.

Develop a robust fundraising program.

As Sanford grows our programs and opportunities, we must also plan campus enhancements that support our vision. We will develop a detailed, ambitious campus master plan incorporating new and flexible academic spaces; campus safety and security; visitor accessibility; and environmental sustainability.

Strategic, consistent fundraising is critical to Sanford’s strength and will allow our school to invest in faculty and staff, programs, and facilities.

Capital projects to be considered:

We will build a major giving program focused on cultivating a large donor base, prioritizing endowment growth and capital projects.

n Improved STEM facilities

Our fundraising goal is to:

n Improved Middle School classroom spaces

n Increase salaries over time to help

n Learning services/tutoring spaces

improve faculty retention rates. n Launch successful capital campaigns for critical projects. n Strategically grow endowments and major gifts.

n Extended Day Program

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. - Henry David Thoreau Prioritize and strengthen alumni relations. Sanford is passionate about maintaining a positive, supportive relationship with all alumni – and through diverse programming, we can re-engage our older alumni and establish strong bonds with young graduates. Our goals: n Increase alumni engagement. n Programming events both on and off campus. n Strengthen our Young Alumni Board. n Increase giving through annual contributions,

capital projects, and planned estate gifts.

There is deep-rooted work to be done, but by Branching Out, Growing Together, Sanford School can reach unprecedented heights.


rom humble beginnings in 1930, Sanford has prospered and grown through the generations. While we have evolved in many ways, our students have always been at Sanford’s core.

As we approach the school’s centennial in 2030, school leaders will continue to build on the strengths of our community so that Sanford’s students of today and tomorrow will enjoy the exceptional experience of those who came before them. Branching Out, Growing Together will serve as our next set of touchstones that will guide our way. We look forward to engaging our entire school community in this meaningful work.

STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE Lisa Lloyd-Washington -co-chair

Christopher T. Grundner

R. Jason Russell -co-chair

James McKeon

Mark J. Anderson

Kenny Mitchell ‘93

Ted H. Dwyer III

Jaime L. Morgan ‘02

Laura Giardina

Kate G. Rosenthal



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