Portledge, Strong As Ever: A 12-Month Strategic Plan

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Strong As Ever



Portledge, Strong As Ever

Dear Portledge Community, One of the cornerstones of success for Portledge is a disciplined approach to strategic planning. We take this commitment very seriously and we welcome the opportunity it provides to reflect on what more can and needs to be done to deliver on the promise of a Portledge Experience—an experience that stands for educational excellence, inclusivity, innovative teaching practices, and the preparation of our students for college life and beyond. The typical Portledge life cycle for strategic planning is every three years and work had just commenced on the next plan when COVID-19 struck. It quickly became apparent that strategic planning needed to shift in order to manage this crisis which continues to challenge every aspect of school life and operations. In partnership with the Board of Trustees, it was decided that Portledge would best be served with an abbreviated plan designed to deliver critical short-term impact while laying the foundation for the next long-term strategic plan. It gives me great pride to present Portledge, Strong As Ever – a 12-month strategic plan anchored around the following key goals that will solidify the value of the Portledge Experience while recognizing the evolving demands of education, school life, and child development in our region/country/world:








▶ Maximize the Strength of Portledge Pride: commit to celebrating and reintroducing distinct elements of the Portledge Experience learning from our students and faculty who have further distinguished themselves this past year as Portledge citizens and scholars who continue to embody the Portledge Pillars of kindness, purpose, honor and respect.

▶ Deliver on Master Plan Vision of an Athletic & Wellness Center and Improved Campus Safety: manage execution of plans to design and build the Portledge Athletic and Wellness Center and a new campus road.

▶ Foster a Diverse and Inclusive Learning Environment: recognize the heightened need to continue to foster an inclusive and anti-racist environment that engages teachers, students, families, staff and administrators.

▶ Emerge as a Leader in Health & Wellness: demonstrate that Portledge is poised to be a leader in the community and beyond in protecting and nurturing the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff.

▶ Advance and Invest in the Portledge Mission: establish and maintain a cohesive development strategy that ensures a sustained culture of giving for the good of advancing campus and facilities, student programs, and teacher excellence. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to every member of the Portledge community for demonstrating extraordinary resilience over the past year and inspiring us to work harder to make your Portledge Experience as meaningful and memorable as possible.


Simon Owen-Williams, Head of School


Portledge, Strong As Ever


Maximize the Strength of Portledge Pride The backbone of our school is anchored in the Portledge Pillars of Kindness, Purpose, Honor, and Respect. These simple yet powerful words must continue to frame the way we live our lives at our school by crystallizing expectations for incoming families and providing a guiding beacon of light for the future of our beloved school. In large part, these words recall to us our commitment to celebrating our many time-honored traditions. Following an incredible year focused on keeping our community safe, informed, and healthy, the time is now for us to return to celebrating all that distinguishes Portledge and to look towards our bright future together.

STRATEGIES: 1. R EIMAGINE WHO WE ARE: It is time to reimagine how we introduce and welcome new families to the value of the Portledge Experience. More than just a smooth onboarding, matriculation, and assimilation process; we have added more depth to our story following a year of extraordinary growth, leadership, innovation, and teacher excellence.

2. EXPLORE NEW POSSIBILITIES: We have learned so much in 2020 out of necessity through managing the impact COVID has had on every aspect of school life. Our investments in technology, professional development, operational efficiency, and teaching pedagogies, coupled with a spirit of determined innovation have yielded so much to work with to enhance the learning experience at Portledge for the future.

3. CONTINUE TO EXCEL: We love (and miss!) the school life marked by our rich traditions of the late spring and early fall. With a renewed commitment to strengthen our engaging, dynamic, and highly personalized learning environment, we will reignite parent connections, energize faculty and enthusiastically celebrate our students.

Goal Captain: Michael Coope, Director of Admissions Goal Committee: S usan Foley, Trustee; Kevin Mercier, Trustee; Simon Owen-Williams, Head of School; Amanda Slinger, Director of Financial Aid and Admissions Data




Deliver on Master Plan Vision of an Athletic and Wellness Center and Improved Campus Safety As part of our multi-year commitment to advance campus facilities, plans are underway for the building of a new Athletic and Wellness Center (AWC)** and a road redesign. The AWC reflects how acutely aware we are of the importance of nurturing students’ physical health and mental well-being. At the same time, the introduction of a new roadway will meet a critical need to improve traffic flow, enhance campus safety and heighten enjoyment of our wonderful campus. STRATEGIES: ▶ SECURE PERMITS AND APPROVALS: Acquire all permits and approvals from outside agencies for the roadway and the AWC.

▶ SHOVELS IN THE GROUND: Commence construction of the road and AWC. ▶ REIMAGINE THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE: With an architectural style and design reflective of the natural surrounding of our campus, the AWC will have a significant impact on the Portledge student experience.

Highlights include: ◆ A multi-purpose extended basketball court with spectator seating ◆ Locker facilities for student athletes ◆ Multi-sport indoor space to accommodate winter activities ◆ Opportunities for non-competitive body-movement programs ◆ Increased programming for the exploration of balanced mental, physical, and emotional health ◆ Collaborative space, including classrooms, for new Physical Education and Wellness Department ◆ Technology-infused laboratory for classes in health science and entrepreneurship Goal Captain: Michael O’Donoghue, Administrative Consultant Goal Committee: K evin Mercier, Trustee; Betty Margolin, Chief Financial Officer; Simon Owen-Williams, Head of School

**The AWC project will begin once the fundraising goal is met.


Portledge, Strong As Ever


Foster a Diverse and Inclusive Learning Environment Through the work of the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Committee and in collaboration with the Board of Trustees, the Head of School, the Director of DEI, and the school’s DEI Consultant, we will continue to foster an environment that aims to engage teachers, students, families, staff, and administrators in a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as the catalyst to intercultural awareness and anti-racism at Portledge School.

STRATEGIES: ▶ PROMOTE DEI AT ALL DIVISIONS: DEI will continue to be interwoven into the culture and curriculum of each division at Portledge School with specific areas of focus at all levels. This work will further the process of Portledge’s emergence as an inclusive and accepting community.

◆ Lower School: Continue implementation of the Pollyanna Curriculum, contextualize historical concepts to include alternative perspectives, continue Book of the Month readings with diverse range of topics and authors.

◆ Middle School: Maintain the flexible approach to curriculum across all subject areas that allows for the teaching of timely lessons that illustrate what it means to be equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist. MS advisory pedagogy will continue to be framed around belonging and inclusion with advisors empowered to create customized space for their students to reflect and share their voices.

◆ Upper School: Continue a focus on enriched academic and non-academic programs in the area of DEI, such as Diversity Day, Diversity Week, DEI Club, PRIDE Club, Gender and Sexuality Club, updated curriculum in English and history, this year’s new Senior Perspectives course, a stronger Advisory Program, and the launching of Affinity Groups.

▶ OUTREACH TO BROADER SCHOOL COMMUNITY: Our DEI director and our DEI consultant will continue and expand on focused work with the Portledge Parents Association to bring meaningful DEI book clubs, fun celebrations and training to all of our amazing Portledge parents, alumni, and community members.

Goal Captain: Olga Florentino, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion/Faculty; Shawnée Warfield, Trustee Goal Committee: Saralyn Lawn, Lower School Director; Susan Edwards-Bourdrez, Middle School Director; Silvia Arrascue, Faculty




Emerge as a Leader in Health and Wellness Health and wellness are priority areas of focus for Portledge in the coming year as we recognize more than ever the importance of educating the whole child through physical, social, emotional, and mental wellness, underscored by healthy approaches to work, study, play, teaching and parenting. The opening of the Athletics and Wellness Center will allow Portledge to continue to emerge as a leader in the promotion of health and wellness for our students and our community.

STRATEGIES: ▶ SUPPORT THE ATHLETE IN EVERYONE: Promote the importance of excellence in the athletic program and how that enhances the experience for all students by:

◆ Expanding the physical plant of athletics to execute a 5th to 12th grade program that focuses on participation and gradually shifts to high-level competition.

◆ Enhancing the well-roundedness of the current Portledge student athlete with an equal focus on both the “student” and the “athlete” parts.

◆ Exposing our athletes to a more full body approach to competition ➟ incorporating the mental aspect of sports, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and recovery.

▶ EXPLORE THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS: Facilitate community-based partnerships between students and health and wellness professionals; these partnerships will be tailored to meet the needs of students across Early Childhood, Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School.

▶ MAXIMIZE AND CREATE SPACE: Remain dedicated to the development of physical spaces that will address the social and emotional well-being of all students, including the execution of plans for the Athletic and Wellness Center for year-round health enhancing opportunities.

▶ INNOVATE PROGRAMS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: Balance the development of classroom courses that prepare students to enter allied health fields, such as kinesiology, sports medicine and public health with programming that teaches self-care through mindfulness, self-awareness, direct support opportunities, and physical activity.

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Portledge, Strong As Ever

▶ ENGAGE THE WHOLE COMMUNITY- The daily demands placed on students, faculty, and parents alike necessitate the need for broad-based community support programming.

◆ Portledge will lead in helping all members of our community to be successful across the socialemotional, mental, and physical aspects of their lives.

◆ Portledge will create opportunities for all community members to engage in health and wellness programming that will target all aspects of wellness and help community members create meaningful social connections.

Goal Captain: Alison Brush, School Psychologist Goal Committee: K evin Mercier, Trustee; Carmine Giovino, Director of Athletics and Student Life/Interim Director of Upper School; Alex Simson, Health and Wellness Department Chair




Advance and Invest in the Portledge Mission For many years, Portledge School has enjoyed the benefits of strong philanthropic performance and an active and highly engaged community. We are so grateful for the extraordinary commitment to and passion for the Portledge mission that continues today. Nonetheless, because of the current global pandemic, we recognize that we need to refresh, refine and enhance our approach to fundraising and community engagement in order to unite and activate all constituencies who share the same goal — to ensure the very best education for every Portledge student for years to come.

STRATEGIES : ▶ FURTHER REFINE FUNDRAISING PROGRAMS: Nurture Portledge’s considerable philanthropic culture to maximize annual giving and build reserves by reassessing direct fundraising efforts and initiatives to best reflect the current fundraising environment.

▶ REFRESH COMMUNITY CULTIVATION: Create a greater sense of community, loyalty, and partnership with all constituencies (i.e. parents, faculty, alumni) by further developing and in some instances re-envisioning an outreach plan that is centered around personal and timely communications, real-world initiatives, and mission-driven events.

▶ PREPARE TO LAUNCH COMMUNITY-WIDE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN: Work with various designated committees and executive groups to launch a broad community-based capital campaign that supports the Athletic and Wellness Center, along with a campus road, as introduced in our multi-year Campus Master Plan.

▶ DEVELOP AND EXECUTE AN ENDOWMENT PLAN: Define Portledge School’s endowment strategy and derive a Board of Trustees supported action plan for short and long term growth, which is aimed at helping to grow this permanent stream of annual income for the school.

Goal Captain: Tara Askeland, Director of Development Goal Committee: Lindsey Barnett, Trustee; Susan Foley, Trustee; Vicky Levy, Director of Communications; Betty Margolin, Chief Finance Officer; Elizabeth Venuti, Trustee; Kelly Walles, Associate Director of Development


Portledge, Strong As Ever

On behalf of the Portledge School administration, the Board of Trustees, and planning committee goal captains and goal team members named throughout this document, it has been a privilege to serve in the development of the 2021 Strategic Plan: Portledge, Strong as Ever. As a community, Portledge has persevered and grown stronger during the pandemic. We are now prepared with a clear vision to guide our decision making in 2021 as we strive to:

◆ Construct a campus road and the Athletic and Wellness Center ◆ Emerge as leaders in Health and Wellness ◆ Continue our important work in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ◆ Expand our focus on all aspects of Philanthropy ◆ Reintroduce important elements of the Portledge Experience We hope you join us in our excitement about what is to come across campus in the coming months and beyond!


Susan Foley and Kevin Mercier Trustees & Co-Chairs Strategic Affairs, and Vision Committee 8

Our Mission Portledge School offers a competitive college preparatory program in a warm, inclusive community. Students are inspired to realize their individual potential by developing the critical thinking skills and moral courage necessary for lifelong learning in an increasingly complex world. Portledge School defines Moral Courage as: Acting with Kindness, Purpose, Honor, and Respect while recognizing such actions may not be easy.

Our Vision Portledge School is an independent, pre-nursery through twelfth grade preparatory day school. The school’s coordinated sequential programs, beginning with the Reggio Emilia program in Early Childhood, provide a rigorous academic environment, preparing students to live responsible and productive lives. Dedicated teachers use small class size to deliver knowledge based on inquiry and inspired by a studentcentered learning approach. Individual talents are nurtured through the arts, athletics, and a variety of community and travel programs that all emphasize the Portledge Pillars of kindness, purpose, honor, and respect.

Our Diversity Statement The Portledge School community strives to raise awareness about the beauty of diversity in its many forms. We work to empower people in our community to know that they have something to contribute to our school through their voices and through service to others. We strive to develop an inclusive community that values respect for social justice and equity. We aspire to consider all perspectives. Through our efforts, we continue to realize that despite our differences, we will always be linked through our most common bond — that of our shared humanity.

PORTLEDGE SCHOOL 355 Duck Pond Road | Locust Valley, NY 11560 | (516) 750-3100 | www.portledge.org