STRIVE CONNECT SUPPORT 2015 STRATEGIC PLAN
STRIVE CONNECT SUPPORT 3.................A Letter from the Head of School 4.................Mission and Statement of Purpose 5.................STRIVE 6.................GOAL 1: A faculty full of life-changers 7.................GOAL 2: A cohesive, connected and collaborative ...............student learning experience 8.................GOAL 3: A broader experience of diversity ...............and a renewed commitment to accessibility
9.................CONNECT 10..............GOAL 4: A unified and welcoming community 11..............GOAL 5: A school connected to Durham, ...............the Triangle and the world
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A Letter from the
HEAD OF SCHOOL Dear Friends of Durham Academy, Durham Academy is stronger and healthier now than at any other point in the school’s history. We began the 2014-2015 academic year with a series of extraordinary achievements: the school’s largest enrollment ever, its lowest student attrition ever, its highest number of applications ever, a record fundraising year and the most racially, ethnically and geographically diverse student body ever. We didn’t get here by accident. That progress and success grew from decades of dedicated work and a series of ambitious strategic plans. The vision, values and investments of our families, faculty and alumni have taken DA from its humble beginnings in 1933 with seven students and one teacher to one of the best independent schools in the Southeast. We couldn’t have arrived here without the drive and dedication of so many — teachers, students, parents, staff, alumni, grandparents and friends — who all put their trust in the school’s shared vision for success: enabling young men and women to lead moral, happy and productive lives. It might be tempting to rest on our laurels. But we hold our school to the same high standards that we do our students: stretching forward, challenging ourselves, aspiring to do more, building relationships on and beyond our campus that make tomorrow’s DA even better than it is today. Since the launch of the strategic planning process in August, we have asked hundreds of DA’s constituents (faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, parents of alumni and community partners) what they valued most about our school. The universal answer was life-changing relationships. These bonds — between students and teachers, between students and their peers, between families and faculty, and between our school community and the community at large — are valued, prioritized and at the very heart of our work.
This strategic plan, more than any other in our history, grows from our shared values rather than pressing financial or physical plant needs. This plan is focused on our mission, the DNA of DA — moral, happy and productive lives. Since August, we’ve reflected on a series of key questions: • How can we find life-changing teachers and help them learn and grow? • How can we hone a learning experience that is continuous, collaborative and cutting-edge? • How can we exemplify selflessness and service as core values? • How can we make every single student and family feel at home? • How can we increase and support cultural diversity? • How should we invest to provide future generations the opportunity to enjoy the DA experience? In short, how do we help our school and our students realize their fullest potential? How do we build a foundation for our students to achieve morality, happiness and productivity, both in their next stage of higher education and throughout their adult lives? The answer: We strive and we connect. It’s what drives us to reach higher, unite more meaningfully and serve our students more effectively than ever before. Everyone in our community can support making this vision a reality. Sincerely,
Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School
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MISSION AND STATEMENT OF PURPOSE The purpose of Durham Academy is to provide each student an education that will enable him or her to live a moral, happy and productive life. The development of intellect is central to such a life; thus, intellectual endeavor and growth are the primary work of the school. The acquisition of knowledge; the development of skills, critical judgment and intellectual curiosity; and increased understanding are the goals of the schoolâ€™s academic program. Recognizing that intellectual growth cannot by itself lead to a rich and responsible life, Durham Academy is committed to helping each student achieve personal growth in an atmosphere that is both supportive and challenging. Durham Academy provides students with opportunities to develop physically, learn the habits that lead to sound mental and physical health and experience the lessons and satisfactions of competitive athletics; to gain appreciation for the visual and performing arts, discover creativity within themselves and encourage growth of their own imaginations; to develop habits that lead to moral behavior, responsible action and the growth of character; and to gain an awareness of present and future obligations to fellow students, community, country and world. Durham Academy believes that enhancing the spirit of community among faculty, students and parents is essential to the achievement of its goals. The faculty approaches each student as an individual, and the school encourages close personal relationships fostered in an atmosphere of trust, respect for individual differences and appreciation for the racial, cultural and religious diversity in our society. PA G E 4 â€˘ 2 0 1 5 D U R H A M A C A D E M Y S T R AT E G I C P L A N
STRIVE DURHAM ACADEMY HAS ALWAYS BEEN FIRMLY GROUNDED IN A LIBERAL ARTS TRADITION — THE STRONGEST FOUNDATION FOR CULTIVATING ETHICAL AND INTELLECTUAL VIRTUE. The liberal arts foster curiosity and creativity, critical thinking and empathetic feeling. And by exposing our students to many different perspectives, cultures and ideas, a liberal arts education widens our perspective and enables us to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. DURHAM ACADEMY ALSO BELIEVES IN EXCELLENCE. We strive both as individuals and as an institution to constantly challenge and improve ourselves, whether by honing our teaching prowess or growing the role of problem solving and critical thinking in our curriculum. Refusing to be comfortable with our accomplishments to date, we will continue to instill in our institution the same spirit of vigorous selfimprovement we expect of our students.
GOAL 1: A faculty full of life-changers GOAL 2: A cohesive, connected and collaborative student learning experience
GOAL 3: A broader experience of diversity and a renewed commitment to accessibility
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GOAL 1: A faculty full of life-changers DURHAM ACADEMY BELIEVES EDUCATORS SHOULD FOSTER STUDENTS’ PASSIONS AND INSPIRE THEIR FUTURES. We will strive to create a faculty full of life-changers: genuine, curious, passionate, striving, generous and accountable teachers/learners who nurture, inspire, engage and challenge students and model the path to moral, happy and productive lives. Action Steps: • Develop a school-wide plan to strengthen the recruiting and mentoring of new faculty. • Cultivate and celebrate excellence in the faculty. • Reassess, standardize and ensure accountability in the faculty evaluation system and integrate with the professional growth program. – Define clear standards of excellence for teachers and administrators. – Expand and strategically award professional development and leadership opportunities. • Enrich the faculty experience by further connecting teachers to the community, students and each other. • Foster a culture and environment that encourages considered experimentation and innovation in classroom teaching and learning approaches, in order to help every student reach his or her highest individual potential.
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GOAL 2: A cohesive, connected and collaborative student learning experience DURHAM ACADEMY BELIEVES EVERY STUDENT’S LEARNING EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE COHESIVE, CONNECTED AND SEQUENTIAL THROUGHOUT HIS OR HER TENURE. Our curriculum should also evolve to incorporate more critical thinking and problem solving to meet the demands of today’s world and to vigorously promote innovative teaching and learning as we reinforce core skills. Action Steps: • Examine and revise, as needed, scope and sequence in all disciplines. • Ensure core academic curriculum incorporates experiential education; critical and creative thinking; team-based projects; character and service learning; and appropriate, responsible use of technology. • Maintain curriculum at the vanguard of age-appropriate content and skills. • Enhance the culture of intellectual curiosity. • Confirm appropriate consistency across key elements of the student experience: – Class sections/Grade levels – Student assessment – Workload • Beyond commonly agreed skill and content goals and instructional frameworks, affirm pedagogical autonomy for faculty. • Create more interdisciplinary opportunities across departments and fields of study for faculty and students.
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GOAL 3: A broader experience of diversity and a renewed commitment to accessibility DURHAM ACADEMY BELIEVES THAT DIVERSITY ENLIVENS, IMPROVES AND ENRICHES THE SCHOOL — AND THE DAILY EXPERIENCE OF EVERY LEARNER. We have long acted to make all kinds of diversity a priority from our boardroom to our classroom. Challenging ourselves even more, we will broaden the conversation about and deepen the experience of diversity at Durham Academy. Action Steps: • Evaluate current diversity initiatives and measure progress toward clearly defined objectives. • Develop an integrated experiential and curricular program that reinforces an inclusive and supportive environment. • Continue to recruit, retain and support students who add diversity in all school divisions, focusing particular recruitment attention on underrepresented populations. • Continue to recruit and support a diverse faculty and staff. • Continue to set the financial aid budget as a percentage of gross tuition revenue to meet or exceed the mean of INDEX schools. In addition, increase endowed financial aid. • Reassess financial aid award processes to ensure we maximize our potential impact on accessibility to the school, both in terms of socioeconomic diversity and support for individual families. • Ensure that faculty and staff are rigorously trained to relate to and support all students, families and colleagues. PA G E 8 • 2 0 1 5 D U R H A M A C A D E M Y S T R AT E G I C P L A N
CONNECT DURHAM ACADEMY RECOGNIZES THAT STRIVING ALONE DOES NOT LEAD TO FULFILLMENT. OUR STUDENTS ALSO NEED AUTHENTIC, MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS — WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH THOSE BEYOND OUR CAMPUS — TO BUILD MORAL, HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES. With this in mind, we seek to deepen relationships in communities both near (among peers, teachers and parents) and far (in Durham, the Triangle and the world).
GOAL 4: A unified and welcoming community GOAL 5: A school connected to Durham, the Triangle and the world
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GOAL 4: A unified and welcoming community DURHAM ACADEMY BELIEVES THAT A CONNECTED SCHOOL COMMUNITY IS UNIFIED BY COMMON VALUES, LINKED ACROSS DIVISIONS AND WELCOMING FOR EVERY STUDENT AND EVERY FAMILY. We commit to strengthening the Durham Academy community in ways that make all families, students, teachers, alumni and visitors feel welcome, valued, supported and integral. Action Steps: • Strengthen our culture of inclusion for every student and family. • Establish shared traditions for the entire school community and create more opportunities for cross-divisional experiences, both within the school day and through extracurricular activities. • Identify new opportunities for all families to be active in the dynamic culture and well-being of the school. • Create new and deeper connections with alumni to ensure lifelong bonds to DA; recognize and celebrate alumni achievements in the community.
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GOAL 5: A school connected to Durham, the Triangle and the World DURHAM ACADEMY BELIEVES ACTING BEYOND SELF-INTEREST (BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND INSTITUTIONALLY) FURTHERS OUR MISSION OF ENABLING STUDENTS TO LIVE MORAL, HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES. We also believe in expanding the worldview of our students — allowing them to live, learn, lead and collaborate with teams both near and far. To that end, Durham Academy will increase its commitment to service learning and opportunities for global exposure — propelling students and our institution to see beyond self-interest and participate actively in our communities. Action Steps: • Develop a coherent (intentional, continuous, sequential and focused) PreK-12 curriculum for service-learning that includes preparation, education, reflection and relationships that deepen over time. Engage community stakeholders to help guide the design effort. • Connect DA students to local and global peers using online technologies and creative programming. • Develop programming that promotes a culture of broad community participation by engaging students in a dialogue about their roles and responsibilities beyond the boundaries of their own education.
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SUPPORT TO SUPPORT THESE GOALS, DURHAM ACADEMY MUST ENSURE THAT OUR ENROLLMENT AND CAPITAL STRUCTURE ENABLE OUR AMBITIONS. Action Steps: • Determine the optimal size of the school considering financial, cultural, pedagogical, facility and admissions factors. • Develop a comprehensive construction, fundraising and financing plan to support three key facilities projects and the use of land acquisitions: – Renovate the Middle School campus. – Redesign or rebuild the Upper School science building. – Expand facilities available for Extended Day/Aftercare. • Enhance Durham Academy’s culture of philanthropy and grow the school’s endowment.
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2015 STRATEGIC PLAN STEERING COMMITTEE • Lauren Whitehurst, chair, trustee and parent • Wendy Brooks, trustee and parent • Owen Bryant, faculty and parent • Jennifer Crawford, faculty, former trustee and parent of alumni • Gib Fitzpatrick, faculty, parent and parent of alumnus • Lee Hark, Assistant Head of School, Upper School Director and parent • Leslie Holdsworth, Director of Development and parent • Leslie King, Director of Communications and parent • Jamie Spatola ’00, trustee, alumna and parent • Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School and parent • Eric Ward, parent and parent of alumni