Portledge School Strategic Plan 2022-2025

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LEADING. Portledge School Strategic Plan 2022-2025

The Portledge DIFFERENCE 2

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 is an independent, pre-nursery through 12th-grade college preparatory day school situated on the beautiful North Shore of Long Island. The school already maintains a robust curriculum. Learning pathways align what students learn from the Elementary programs with how and when such learning takes place through the Upper Division experience. Simply put, a rich and rigorous academic environment exists from Early Childhood on. This fertile scholastic environment resides alongside strong character education guided by the schools four Pillars of Honor, Purpose, Kindness, and Respect. These pillars are reflected in the daily practices of the school and a multitude of exciting programs are on offer in turn making the Portledge experience a memorable one. These values are instilled in preparing students to be self-confident, inquisitive, balanced, openminded, and caring. Our world-class dedicated teachers strive to create productive and responsible citizens who are knowledgeable and able to think critically.


“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Abraham Lincoln

With these courageous words in mind and with a great deal of pride, we publish this bold and inspirational Strategic Plan. “Building. Leading. Learning.” As the title for our vision for the future suggests, here we provide a road map that will carefully guide us over the next three years. Rooted in extensive information gathering and research, it represents exciting possibilities and ambitious goals to build for the future. It provides us with an opportunity for continued growth, learning, and development, while at the same time, acknowledging our exceptional recent progress. Board members, administrative leaders, faculty, staff members, parents, alumni, and students are the core constituencies whose involvement, revisions, and deletions in the process have significantly helped to shape it. This plan’s core directs us towards a continued and deliberate focus on scholastic excellence; that journey never ends! Long heralded as a place for educational innovation and positive community culture, we are well-positioned to enhance our rigorous academic offerings further. Across the country, and in the wake of COVID, schools have seen the departure of veteran faculty and worried about the rebuild of their schools. While many remained in defensive posture 4

during this challenging period, Portledge took active steps to leverage its reputation, invest heavily in its IB programs, build its infrastructure and be ready for the post-pandemic world. This bold strategy has clearly paid off. By revamping our hiring process, gaining access to more diverse candidate pools, and investing in best teaching practices, we have found great success hiring outstanding educators. The cohort of recent recruits consistently expresses their excitement about the dynamic and forwardthinking environment found in their new home. Teaching excellence propels high-quality learning, and we have the group of educators in place needed to implement this vision. Seismic changes have also taken place recently in the college process. Sheer numbers in the equation alone have been a factor. Restructuring our schedule and administration comes as part of our recognition of the need to respond quickly to this changing landscape. During the pandemic and beyond, our top-quality counselors carefully maintained and nurtured local, regional, and national ties with top-tier colleges. Individualized attention helped our academic scholars prepare to present their best selves and portray the richness of the Portledge experience. The process of continuing to best position our young graduates to stand out drove much of the discussions resulting in the articulation of this vision. Confident with our current team in place, we will

continue to deliver and lengthen this college process for our high school students. We further boldly predict that in the near future, the educational landscape will increasingly emphasize healthrelated sciences and technology. Arguably, that process has already begun and was forced upon us by the recent health crisis. We have now to recognize that students’ social and emotional well-being is paramount; we must carefully learn from what this crisis has taught us, both in terms of needed programs and how to leverage technology in the future. The much-anticipated completion of our new Athletics and Wellness Center could not be better timed. This structure will provide access to state-of-the-art facilities, additional laboratory and classroom spaces and become a hub for indoor physical activities, especially in the winter. Over the next three years, we also seek to expand and sharpen our commitment to marketing, branding, and communication. This plan articulates the exciting ways in which we will enhance the Portledge identity and institutional reputation on Long Island and beyond. To this end, we have strengthened our ties with nearby non-profits in order to attract local scholars and expertise. We will continue to rely on business leaders and key stakeholders in the community, who, partnering with our dynamic communication department, will help us sharpen our brand. Since its inception in 1965 by a charismatic group of entrepreneurial founders, Portledge’s breathtaking campus and robust programs have grown, positioning it now as one of the leading independent schools in New York State. Our strategic thinking represents a brave step towards writing Portledge’s next chapter while being faithful to our sense of tradition essential to its unique and proud stories. These elements of past and present can flourish in tandem, resulting in a school that looks both forward with eagerness to the times ahead, while respectfully acknowledging and building upon the strong foundations of its past. We are creating the school we want to see in the future; and we predict that the future will be bright indeed. Sincerely,

Simon Owen-Williams

Welcome Video 5

Our Faculty A Community of Professionals We continue to recognize the extraordinary contribution of our faculty and staff as well as the need to hire, retain, and support these leaders. The dedication of our teachers is critical to the growth and learning of our students. Having excellent teachers in front of students is the surest way to enable high-quality learning to take place.

Goal 1 We seek to further enhance teaching and student learning at Portledge by developing a master teaching cohort, implementing leading innovative pedagogical practices, and providing IT systems to better support and document the faculty’s collective efforts.


Strategies for success 1. Develop, retain, and recruit the highest caliber of teaching staff through robust hiring practices, maintaining competitive salaries and benefits for high-performing teachers. 2. Expand our comprehensive professional development plan to improve instructional practice that optimizes student learning and that is effective, engaging, and diverse in nature. 3. Create a Master Teaching Cohort that can help coach and inspire all teachers while supporting, cultivating, and sharing best teaching practices. 4. Focus on instructional practice by scheduling collaborative time for teachers within the school day to discuss best practices, strengthen mentor/mentee relationships, and ensure curriculum development aligns with the ongoing evolution of course offerings. 5. Implement a consistent system of faculty evaluation that is easy to understand, equitable, and allows for professional growth. 6. Develop a robust Information Technology System needed to better support the daily lives of faculty and staff.

What is A Master Teacher? Chris Disimile, Director of Upper School


Our Programs and Pathways

An Unequivocal Opportunity Portledge already offers an impressive selection of learning opportunities. However, as preparation for life after high school becomes ever more complex and nuanced, it is vital to infuse classroom learning with real-life experience. By connecting student interests with dynamic and relevant offerings and topics and pairing that with a robust college counseling program beginning in 9th grade, students will be better prepared to achieve their college and post-college goals.

Goal 2 This goal seeks to further enhance the student experience by increasing college readiness and career exposure. This will be accomplished by expanding and lengthening the college counseling process, integrating more real-world experiences, and further expanding the variety of inspiring courses and programs that focus on student interests and passions. 8

Strategies for success 1. Provide students with enhanced ‘Pathways to College’ with in-depth counseling, guidance, and passion pathway opportunities beginning in 9th grade. A Dean system in the Upper Division could allow for an increased focus on the college preparatory process. 2. Utilize the new semester schedule to expand course offerings and elective classes, especially in the area of STEAM, leadership development, writing, and the arts in order to foster maximum student preparedness for admission to and success at elite colleges and universities. 3. Develop ‘Signature Experiences’ in Lower School, Middle School and Upper School that are both attractive to students and aligned with their possible passions and interests. These could include travel abroad programs community service partnerships between Portledge and area not-for-profit organizations 4. Create more robust auxiliary programs utilizing the extended day, school clubs, and summer adventures while leveraging the investments in online training and technology resources that were deployed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 5. Explore and research the possibility of adopting the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) for our elementary division.

What is the new Dean System?

Francisco Lameiro, Assistant Director of Upper School 9

Our Place, Our Community A Welcoming Home for All Our strong community is rooted in positive and productive relationships among all constituencies. The open fields, lush foliage, and natural beauty of our campus mean that the rhythm of life at Portledge is uplifting and inspires forward-thinking. This positive school culture fosters a deep sense of belonging for all. Our learning environment has a profound impact on student learning and success. Making connections with each other and our surroundings organically enhances our intercultural awareness as well as helps persuade us to be better citizens.

Goal 3 This goal aims to further enshrine our school’s mission by strengthening our commitment to the Portledge Pillars and our common bonds both within our community and outside it. 10

Strategies for Success 1. Continue our ambitious and exciting work in the area of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with a focus on recruiting, hiring and retaining more people of color. 2. Enhance our curriculum to reflect various perspectives, while continuing to educate all members of our community in this essential area of school life. 3. Foster opportunities for engaged students to lead, learn, and participate in issues connected to social justice, intolerance, and equity. 4. Integrate a more robust community service-learning program into the daily lives of all students in developmentally appropriate ways. 5. Re-focus our emphasis on character matters and leadership by providing more authentic opportunities for students to engage in the life of the school and demonstrate moral courage. 6. Support the aforementioned strategies by aligning administrative functions and structure. This can be done by re-imagining our yearly and weekly schedule between divisions, and by creating a Dean system in the Upper Division to enrich student life.

What is community service learning? Simon Owen-Williams, Head of School



Our Purpose, Our Wellness A Strong and Healthy Student Body It is increasingly important for students to have a clear sense of what it means to be ‘well’ at school and in life. Extensive research shows that if students are physically and emotionally healthy and actively aware of their well-being they are better able to succeed academically and thrive personally. The proposed Athletic and Wellness Center represents a bold school-wide commitment for Portledge to lead the way in helping students at every stage of their educational journey to develop and maintain the habits, experience, and education needed to achieve this vital balance.

Goal 4 This goal seeks to assess and identify opportunities that further students’ and employees’ physical, social, and emotional health and wellness through programs focused on and promoting nutrition, mindfulness, physical activity, and health awareness.

Strategies for Success 1. Continue to develop practices designed to emphasize the social and emotional wellness of students such as mindfulness, peer-to-peer guidance, and mentoring programs. 2. Expand the number of competitive athletic options supported by quality coaches who also serve as ambassadors of the Portledge mission. 3. Develop a more robust creative movement and dance program. 4. Expand non-competitive physical activity and health promoting activities such as yoga, mindfulness, and pilates. 5. Complete the Athletic and Wellness Center capital campaign project and align it with a reimagined curriculum and programs that meets the social, emotional, mental, and physical needs of all students

What is the AWC?

Michael O’Donoghue, Special Projects Director Carmine Giovino, Athletic Director


Our Future A Path of Continuous Improvement In order for Portledge to solidify its leadership position in our community and region, we must refocus a priority on raising awareness of the distinct value of a Portlege education supported by a carefully crafted and well executed reputation management strategy. This means directing impactful and efficient collaboration across marketing, branding, parent communication, faculty/staff communication, admissions, development, and alumni relations. Such efforts must also include engaging in deeper conversations about the right size of our school community while balancing the beloved Portledge of today with the promising Portledge of tomorrow.

Goal 5 With advancing the reputation of the school in mind, this goal seeks to maximize every opportunity to reinforce the distinct meaning of a Portledge education among all key internal and external stakeholders, media, industry groups and the local community.


Strategies for success 1. Strengthen advancement team structure to ensure delivery of a singularly focused reputation management strategy that ties the roles and goals of marketing, communications, branding, admissions, development and alumni relations. 2. Complete fundraising and construction of the Athletic and Wellness capital project while generating awareness and excitement about Portledge as a leader in the area of student health and wellness. 3. Develop and implement an alumni program that re-connects and re-engages alumni with Portledge and its mission, their peers, the broader alumni community, and current students. 4. Enhance parent-to-school communication in order to foster school pride and ensure clear and consistent awareness of school policies, procedures, happenings and moments of celebrations. 5. Determine the right size for the school by developing a model that assesses enrollment projections and needs for the coming three years in terms of admissions 6. Prepare to celebrate the school’s landmark 60th birthday in 2024-25.

What is the alumni program?

Vincent Catapano, Director of Alumni Relations


Dear Portledge Community, It has been our great honor and privilege to lead the development of the next Portledge Three-Year Strategic Plan at a time when the education of our children is demanding more and more every day. Fueled by the perspectives, insights, hopes and dreams of teachers, administrators, parents, students, and alumni the priorities were very clear. We then considered what our beloved school needs to thrive as an institution and secure its rightful reputation as a leader in our community and region. The result is a plan that is bold, thoughtful, and purposeful. It is a plan that also pays great respect to the leaders who came before us who worked so hard to provide a solid foundation for us to build upon. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Portledge School administration, and planning committee members listed below, we hope you join us in our excitement about what the future promises for our students and the entire Portledge community. Sincerely, Susan Foley and Kevin Mercier, Trustees and Co-Chairs Strategic Affairs and Vision Committee

STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE Nancy Aranda Tara Askeland Michael Coope Chris Disimile Traci Douglas Susan Foley

Carmine Giovino Janice Groden Stephanie Heins Saralyn Lawn Kevin Mercier Mary Ellen Mooney

Robert Muratore Simon Owen-Williams Patricia Rigg Jeffrey Suzda Elizabeth Venuti Shawnee Warfield Luisa Wu

THE PLANNING PROCESS AND OVERVIEW - The SAV Board Committee formed the Strategic Planning Committee who met during 2021and early 2022. - The committee was guided by best practices for Strategic Planning as outlined by the National Association for Independent Schools. - The plan and data were presented to the board for review and input - Preliminary goals were developed and assigned to specific committee groups


- Our input was gleaned from a variety of sources including: - The Accreditation Visiting Team document - Surveys of: parents, students, alumni, faculty, and admin - The previous Portledge Strong one-year plan - Additional resources pooled by individual goal groups

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