FORWARD THINKING HIGHLAND SCHOOL
ST R AT E G I C P L A N
At Highland School, our mission is to provide a demanding academic and co-curricular program that develops the skills and character essential for students to meet the challenges of college and leadership in the twenty-first century.
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WHERE WILL HIGHLAND BE IN 2020? INTRODUCTION Since its founding in 1928 by Dorothy Rust and Lavinia Hamilton as a branch of New Baltimore’s Calvert School, Highland School has been committed to providing students with a rich and challenging experience in a supportive, personalized environment. Our mission stresses the shared importance of skill and character development, recognizing that self-knowledge is the bedrock for lifelong growth. Our exceptional faculty understands students have different pathways to success and aims to meet students “where they are” through a combination of traditional, experiential, and reflective practices.
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OUR VISION As we look forward to 2020, our combination of the best of traditional and non-traditional teaching methods will continue to create an active educational environment focused on learning and teaching.
Highland offers a personalized educational experience delivered by an informed teaching faculty in a nurturing environment. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, we must vigorously cultivate and communicate our school’s "Best-Place-to-Learn" environment, refining and sustaining our programs to fully prepare our students for meaningful contributions in a complex world.
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OUR STRATEGIC PLAN
FOUR AREAS OF FOCUS To fulfill our mission moving forward, the Board and the School have identified four area of focus:
1. LEARNING 2. TEACHING 3. COMMUNITY 4. STEWARDSHIP We live in an uncertain world with profound needs. Yet core certainties remain, principally among them the understanding that students whose educational experience engages them intellectually and ethically are best positioned for future leadership and stewardship. Refining our programs and ensuring their sustainability better enables us to meet our students where they are in the expectation that they will ultimately turn outward, with confidence and compassion, in the service of the wider world.
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AREAS OF FOCUS
1. LEARNING Our student-centered environment focuses on the physical, emotional, and intellectual growth of our students while stimulating them to think critically and probe the world around them. Highland’s faculty understands that students have different paths to achieving success. Our approach to learning meets students where they are, developing their self awareness, academic achievement, and co-curricular excellence.
Position Highland as the region's pre-eminent “Best Place to Learn” environment. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Learning has become increasingly personalized. We know students learn in different ways and develop at different rates. We pride ourselves as a faculty in being keen observers of our students and informed by an understanding of brain-based research. Utilizing differentiation in the Lower and Middle Schools and offering regular, honors, and Advanced Placement in the Upper School provides the appropriate level of challenge for each student. The effectiveness of certificate programs and the rise in the number of independent studies are indicators that students are looking for individualized education. When students are “met where they are” and engaged by teachers who have the time, interest, and expertise to focus on each student and engage his or her intellectual and creative curiosity, learning is meaningful. We are committed to meeting the individual needs of our students and creating an engaging and challenging learning environment that actively involves our students through traditional and experiential learning. Skillful use of academic technology supports individual and group learning, giving our students the tools they will need for continued growth.
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Position Highland as the region's pre-eminent “Best Place to Learn” environment.
Expand project and inquiry-based learning.
Develop the best practice pre-school program, combining methods from a variety of approaches.
Offer a developmentally appropriate approach to early childhood education that focuses on creativity, exploration, decision-making, play, and choice.
In the Lower and Middle Schools, continue to develop understanding of–and expertise with–differentiation in the regular classroom and through the Learning Centers.
Develop a new technology plan that increases student and faculty expertise with academic technology, using it as a tool for experiential learning, academic selfreflection, collaboration, and global engagement.
Develop signature programs in the Middle School around the Growth Mindset and Habits of Learning.
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Expand internships for students that extend experiential learning and real-world experience.
Leverage the recognized success of the Leadership Studies and Global Studies programs, and expand Upper School certificate programs to provide additional areas of concentration. Fully develop the Summer Semester concept. Expand online and independent study options for students to explore subjects in greater depth.
Leverage the Saturday Enrichment Program (SEP) and opportunities to expand partnerships with schools like George Mason University for STEM and computer science instruction.
Develop resources to support the expansion of the international student program.
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AREAS OF FOCUS
2. TEACHING Our philosophy is to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles of each student and teach to that understanding. We consider all adults who interact with students to be part of the teaching community. Administrators, support staff, coaches, and bus drivers all contribute to the delivery of the mission. Teachers are committed to knowing their students inside and outside the classroom so they can build relationships and find the most effective ways to teach them. Continued training for faculty in differentiated instruction, as well as curricular innovation, will be important to develop a “Best Place to Learn” environment. Making sure to hire and develop outstanding teachers who embrace the independent school life is essential to creating a vibrant community where all students can thrive.
Become a national model for teacher development and training.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? We are a professional learning community where teachers are committed to professional development and are examples of lifelong learning. Faculty have benefited from fellowship and innovation programs, which allow for meaningful professional development, reward outstanding performance, and enhance school programs. Moving forward, the School will need to explore additional ways to reward excellence in its teaching faculty. Our goal is to employ and develop teachers who embrace the School’s mission and philosophy, and pursue professional growth opportunities in their quest for lifelong learning. Our teachers utilize a variety of strategies to reach every student, participate in the community of the school, and approach teaching with passion and joy.
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Become a national model for teacher development and training.
Support and reward excellence in teaching.
Utilizing the demonstrated strength of our Learning Center, expand programs for teacher training to provide the ability to reach all kinds of minds. Expand the program to include teachers from other schools and from the public sector.
Increase interdisciplinary approaches, experiential and service learning opportunities, and use of “smart” academic technology as ways to attract creative and inspired teachers.
Develop compensation models that balance salary and benefits to attract and retain outstanding teachers.
Examine faculty loads for equity, with a view toward ensuring teachers have time to both innovate and fulfill administrative obligations.
Encourage professional growth and innovation through Faculty Fellowship, Professional Development, and Innovation Funds. Create more opportunities for faculty leadership and faculty-led initiatives to reward excellence and promote innovation.
Develop the internship program for exceptional beginning teachers.
Create a new daily schedule in Middle School that facilitates program development, better meets the needs of students, and considers crossover teaching.
Strengthen the ability to hire and support faculty/staff that reflect the diversity of our area and the school.
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AREAS OF FOCUS
3. COMMUNICATION OF COMMUNITY STRENGTHS, VALUES, AND EXPECTATIONS It is important to be able to articulate the strengths, values, and expectations of community. We have a blend of experiences and traditions that intentionally transmit our school values and culture. We always seek to improve the effectiveness of communication of what matters most to us.
Articulate and communicate, internally and externally, the life-long benefits of a Highland education, our
philosophies of instruction, and community values and ways of being.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The School has been in a dynamic period of program expansion and improvement that has been invaluable. As Highland develops, it is important we continuously communicate our philosophies of instruction and community expectations. This includes everything from the tradition of volunteering and welcoming new community members to the Honor Code and philanthropic support.
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Articulate and communicate, internally and externally: the life-long benefits of a Highland education, our philosophies of instruction, and community values and ways of being.
Formally communicate on WHY we do what we do.
Increase and improve the resources for marketing and branding. Map the ongoing effort to communicate the power and identity of Highland.
Fully develop programs that better connect alumni and past parents, faculty, and trustees to the school.
Enhance the first-year experience for new families.
Establish a stable story-telling model to produce content to advance the school.
Redefine the Learning Center to reflect the scope of its programs and purpose. Communicate the value and impact of the Learning Center on learning outcomes for all students.
Create a formal wordof-mouth marketing program, informed by demographic data and buyer personas to identify and market to prospective families and students.
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AREAS OF FOCUS
4. GOVERNANCE, FISCAL, AND FACILITY HEALTH The school seeks to secure and manage the human, financial, and facility resources necessary for a program of excellence. Operating with best practices and a discipline for sustainability is a primary objective of the school. Multi-year planning and forecasting tools that have been developed in recent years by Board task groups have helped identify the most critical needs. There is a strong desire to maintain a sense of a community school where those in the community can attend regardless of their financial circumstances.
Secure and manage sufficient resources to allow for
full execution of Highland’s mission and strategic plan while enhancing financial security and sustainability. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The School weathered the Great Recession without cutting programs. This was accomplished by generous donations, increasing tuition assistance, increasing international and pre-school student enrollment, and growing non-tuition revenue. It was also accomplished by deferring maintenance investment, using capital projects to fund technology acquisition, and flattening compensation.
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Secure and manage sufficient resources to allow for full execution of Highland’s mission and strategic plan while enhancing financial security and sustainability.
Update the comprehensive funding and management plan that addresses strategic initiatives, facilities, technology, infrastructure, and debt service.
Develop/implement a new enrollment management plan that achieves growth, promotes retention, and meets tuition assistance needs. Review tuition assistance policies annually.
Examine the mission and philosophy statements for relevance and perspective.
Develop and launch a people-focused capital/ endowment campaign that includes capacity building objectives, merit and financial aid, and faculty/staff compensation.
The board should continue to review its processes; identify, recruit, and develop trustees who bring diversity of experience and perspective; and manage leadership transitions.
Consider the facility needs of a growing Upper School, including student spaces, science labs, athletics, and wellness.
Assess Highland’s current fundraising activities and develop an integrated strategy to increase philanthropic inputs to the operating budget. The strategy will include reviewing best practices and recommending appropriate staffing and technology requirements.
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HOW WE"LL SUCCEED
HERE'S HOW WE'LL SUCCEED Bringing this five-year strategic plan to life will require focused and concerted effort from our administration, our Board of Trustees, and the whole of our community. To achieve the ambitious goals we've set out in this plan, we will undertake the following initiatives:
Launch a new capital campaign focused on people.
Nothing gets to the heart of learning and teaching more
than the strength of our faculty. We'll use the resources
to attract, retain, and inspire the best, most experienced
and engaged educators. We will also ensure accessibility
for qualified students who cannot afford a Highland education.
Develop new ways to benchmark the effectiveness
Highland School will develop meaningful ways to measure
and gauge the effectiveness of our academic programs.
Continue to explore new ways to improve our visibility.
our community's strengths and values. To achieve this,
the school's administration and Board of Directors will
pursue a wide range of marketing initiatives and
of our programs.
We will continue to increase awareness of and share
We will update you with regular progress reports to help the community stay involved and engaged with the strategic plan. Ready to get involved? Turn the page to see how you can help!
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OUR STRATEGIC PLAN
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP To bring this strategic plan to reality, we'll need your help. Since our founding in 1928, Highland School has always relied on the expertise and guidance of our community members–in ways both formal and informal. Whether you're sharing your experiences and insight, volunteering around campus, or donating to the Highland Fund, your involvement is critical to our short and long-term success. Here are four ways you can get involved:
CONTACT US Questions about anything you've read in the Strategic Plan? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
SHARE YOUR STORY Share your own stories about your experiences by email to email@example.com
CONTRIBUTE YOUR TALENTS Moved to action? Let us know how you'd like to help at firstname.lastname@example.org
SUPPORT THE SCHOOL Help us through your generous support of Highland School. Make a gift at highlandschool.org/donate
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Five year strategic plan for Highland School, a Pre-K2 to Grade 12 independent school in Warrenton, Virginia.