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“St. Mary’s is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School dedicated to inquiry-based academic excellence, developing well-rounded, confident children who flourish in a creative environment founded on Christian values.” — St. Mary’s Mission Statement

Board of Trustees - From Left to Right Back Row: Scott Green, Mary Beth Dougherty, Eva Lehman, Sharon Taylor, Scott Lester, Serena Benson, Nicolaas Vlok. Front Row: Paul Brahe, Shawn Baldwin, Chris Marsh, Matthew Stewart, Rayna Herman, Lisa Vogel, Dave Bryant. Not pictured: Mitchell Fuerst, Scott Liles.

Dear St. Mary’s Community The core principles and goals underlying our Mission Statement have guided our school from its original founding in 1994. They infuse and inspire everything we do at St. Mary’s. Our IB curriculum, our teachers and our students all strongly embrace and reflect these core principles and goals. They have led St. Mary’s to become one of the leading Early Education through Middle School programs in Orange County and a leading IB World School. We have succeeded in many ways never envisioned by our founders. As part of our continual commitment to improvement, we regularly evaluate our school to determine whether we are meeting our performance standards, and whether we are achieving our goals and our plans for the future. It is our primary goal and responsibility to ensure that St. Mary’s continues to lead the way in independent education and to remain sustainable into the future. Thus, we must periodically assess how we are doing to help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, which enables us to focus on the most important areas for improvement and continued success. It also requires that we regularly update our strategies and goals. To this end, we are proud to present our Strategic Plan for the years 2016-2019. We are incredibly excited about the future that this Plan envisions for our school. We believe that this Strategic Plan will set us on a course for the next three years and beyond that will enhance the great success we have achieved to date, and ensure that St. Mary’s truly continues as a leader in IB Education. This Strategic Plan is the product of a collaborative effort over the past year. In the fall of 2014, the Board of Trustees hired Independent School Management (ISM), an internationally recognized educational consultant to independent schools, to perform a comprehensive analysis of many aspects of our school in order to assist us in developing a new Strategic Plan. ISM reached out to the entire St. Mary’s community to obtain feedback, opinions and input on our school, through surveys and interviews. We are providing a summary of that information to our community in a separate document entitled “Parent Survey Results.” The results of ISM’s assessment were then used to inform the process of creating this Strategic Plan. St. Mary’s recognizes that the world around us is changing very rapidly, and we are preparing our students for lives and careers that we may not even be able to envision today. We must focus our teaching and learning on the development of skills and abilities that will form the foundation of success for each one of our students. This requires not only teaching and encouraging them to think critically and deeply, but to think differently and to become risk-takers and lifelong learners. To that end, the Strategic Plan sets a Vision and identifies six Pillars of Excellence essential to our future success. Our curriculum must remain flexible and dynamic. Our classrooms and our technology must reflect and enable progressive and innovative teaching techniques. Our faculty must remain highly educated, motivated and committed, and our overall educational program must reinforce our commitment to prepare our students to be global citizens and enlightened leaders. We truly want to provide a school that helps our students develop into “well-rounded, confident children” who are profoundly inspired and prepared to succeed in the world they will inherit. We have bold ideas for the upcoming years. It will take the commitment of the entire St. Mary’s community to achieve them, but we are confident in our path and excited for our future. Sincerely, Scott Lester Sharon Taylor Chair, Board of Trustees

Head of School



St. Mary’s was founded in 1994 with a dedication to developing our students into lifelong learners and leaders with strong values. In an effort to expand and enhance our overall educational program, in 2002 we decided to adopt the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Programme. The IB curriculum transformed our school in many profound ways, academically, socially and culturally, and has guided and informed every aspect of our approach to education. We became a fully authorized IB World School in 2007, and we are currently the only early education through grade 8 IB World School in Orange County, California. In 2014, St. Mary’s celebrated its 20th anniversary.

As an IB World School, we are focused on providing our students with an engaging academic curriculum, while encouraging them to think independently, to be culturally aware, and to engage with people in an increasingly globalized, rapidly changing world. We are deeply dedicated to continual improvement in providing our students with the educational foundation to succeed in their future education and in their lives. Our commitment to academic exellence and to developing well-rounded, confident students requires that we constantly assess all aspects of our school, and reevaluate our goals and strategies. In fulfilling this obligation, our Board of Trustees decided to engage Independent School Management (ISM), an internationally recognized educational consultant to independent schools, to perform a comprehensive analysis of many aspects of our school, and to assist us in developing a new Strategic Plan. In performing their assessment, ISM reached out to the entire St. Mary’s community to obtain their feedback, opinions and input on our school, through surveys and interviews. ISM worked with faculty, students, parents, administrators and the Board of Trustees. A summary of that information is being provided to our community in a separate brochure entitled “Parent Survey Results.” The results of ISM’s assessment then were used to inform the Board of Trustees through a strategic planning process. A Strategic Planning Committee worked during the spring, summer and fall to finalize the Strategic Plan, which included creating a new Vision Statement and six Pillars of Excellence for our school. We believe that this three-year Strategic Plan establishes the vision and goals needed to provide the foundation for St. Mary’s future sustainability and success.



ISM ASSESSMENT The ISM assessment results and the Strategic Plan confirm that our community places the highest value on providing our students with an education that emphasizes academic excellence, and develops our children into well-rounded and confident students. The Strategic Plan also reflects our strong belief that it is our desire and responsibility to provide our students with a transformative learning experience. The results of ISM’s detailed assessment provided St. Mary’s with critical feedback, both with respect to how our community perceives our school and our educational programs, and how St. Mary’s compares to other schools in the United States and


around the world, and with what is required to ensure that St. Mary’s remains sustainable and succeeds well into the future. ISM noted many significant strengths in our school, all of which are crucial to our sustainability and success. St. Mary’s operates at full capacity in its enrollment, meaning recruitment and retention of students is exceptional. Faculty culture is high and, in turn, students report that they feel the faculty cares deeply about them, both personally and academically. There is a deep culture of respect in the relationships throughout our community. Finally, all of these strong traits are reflected in the financial stability of our institution. ISM found that St. Mary’s is fiscally sound, well-positioned for future success, and that total philanthropic giving to the school through the Annual Fund and in all other ways is strong. ISM also identified areas of our school that need attention and possible improvement. ISM identified our physical facilities as an area that requires attention. Specifically, ISM concluded that St. Mary’s address space requirements for the arts, physical education, and innovative learning spaces, as well as provide additional separation between the Lower and Middle Schools. Our Early Education structures must be upgraded, improved or replaced. ISM also noted that we must analyze our faculty compensation packages and increase professional development opportunities to ensure that we are able to retain and attract the highest quality faculty in order to maintain excellence within our faculty. ISM also recommended that we create a committee to clarify and solidify who we are, what is important to us, and how we plan to preserve what is important to us. These recommendations, feedback from our community and the expertise of our faculty and staff helped to form the basis for the Strategic Plan that we are proud to present to our community.


STRATEGIC PLAN The Strategic Plan is presented in the following pages. It contains a new Vision Statement, our current Mission Statement, and six Pillars of Excellence. These three elements will guide us in everything we do at St Mary’s. The Plan also includes six Strategic Goals, each of which is related to a Pillar of Excellence. Finally, each Strategic Goal has a number of Implementation Steps that provide detail into how we plan to achieve that Goal. We plan to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue with our community regarding our school and many of the elements reflected in the Strategic Plan. The St. Mary’s community has always strongly supported our school, and we plan to continue to maintain our close partnership between students, parents, faculty and staff to ensure that this Strategic Plan and our Vision become a reality. We also plan to provide regular updates regarding the progress we are making on our goals. We thank everyone in our community for all their ongoing support of our school, and we encourage all members of our community to get involved and to support our efforts to achieve our goals as we move into the future.



MISSION STATEMENT St. Mary’s is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School dedicated to inquiry-based academic excellence, developing well-rounded, confident children who flourish in a creative environment founded on Christian values.


Preparing and inspiring children of today to become courageous, caring, global citizens and enlightened leaders of tomorrow.



In furtherance of our Vision and Mission, we have identified six Pillars of Excellence for our school. These Pillars reflect certain core principles that will guide our educational program and all that we do at St. Mary’s, with regard to our curriculum, our facilities, and our community. St. Mary’s is committed to providing… I. A Transformative Learning Experience for Our Students We commit to incorporate innovative and advanced teaching techniques into our classrooms. St. Mary’s will regularly assess educational approaches and adopt new and effective methods that will provide the best education for our students. We will integrate

II. An Innovative Campus that is Flexible, Safe and Environmentally Responsible We commit to provide our students with innovative classrooms and other facilities that reflect our dynamic approach to education and our respect for the environment. St. Mary’s will develop both short-term and long-term plans, with an intention to redesign current classroom space to reflect our vision to provide an innovative and collaborative educational experience for our students utilizing project-based learning.

III. A Broad Educational Program that Develops the Whole Child We commit to continually evaluate all areas of our educational program, from Early Education through Grade 8. Our faculty will focus on active learning, incorporate projects and interactive opportunities for experimentation and integrate inquiry-based learning. St. Mary’s commits to continue to provide an enhanced curriculum across all disciplines to reflect our dedication to each student’s learning style and our commitment to educate the whole child.

IV. A Premier International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme We commit to a thorough evaluation of how St. Mary’s compares to other IB World Schools and pledge to better inform and educate our community about the strengths and benefits of an IB education. We will strategically and consistently evaluate and enhance our IB curriculum to maintain a strong position as a leading IB World School.

V. Exceptional Professional Development for our Faculty and Staff We commit to provide our faculty and staff with professional development opportunities to maintain the highest standards of excellence in education. This commitment will be reflected in the promotion of activities that foster career advancement and enhance educational training.

VI. A Continued Sense of Community Among Students, Families, Faculty and Staff We commit to evaluate our school culture, including every aspect of what has made St. Mary’s a successful, supportive, and nurturing environment. We will then evaluate what we can do to preserve and improve the best elements of our community and culture.



creative learning opportunities, innovative technologies, and state-of-the-art facilities to enhance every student’s experience.

Strategic Goal: Create a transformative educational experience with innovative technologies, state-of-the-art facilities and creative learning opportunities. Implementation Steps: • Evaluate the latest teaching techniques in order to advance St. Mary’s curriculum to the international cuttingedge of education. Form a committee of faculty and administrators for these purposes.


• Reimagine the structure of the students’ day. Consider how best to use certain innovative teaching methods such as the “flipped classroom” concept, allowing students to watch video presentations of lectures at home, while using class time for projects, experiments, collaboration and interaction. • Reconsider St. Mary’s academic calendar, considering the potential benefits and detriments of extending the academic year. • Consider the expanded use of technology throughout the school, a health and wellness campaign for students, various food and nutritional programs, and other innovative ideas to enhance the St. Mary’s educational program. • Reach out to the local business and educational community to identify potential science and technology partners for St. Mary’s to expand its curriculum beyond the campus. • Evaluate the current state of St. Mary’s technology program and develop a comprehensive technology strategy for the future use of technology throughout the school.




Strategic Goal: Create a campus that provides our community with a dynamic, flexible, safe and environmentally responsible learning environment. Implementation Steps: • Develop both a short-term and long-term Facilities Master Plan to ensure the physical spaces and facilities on campus reflect St. Mary’s strategy to be a leader in 21st Century education. Establish a Master Planning Committee for these purposes.

• Consider the flexible configuration of learning centers, and how to develop spaces that are consistent with St. Mary’s commitment to being environmentally responsible. • Reimagine the design of all student classrooms to support and stimulate St. Mary’s inquiry-based and collaborative curriculum. Ideas should reflect adaptability, environmental responsibility, fluidity, and innovation. • Plan and launch a capital campaign to support and achieve the Master Plan. • Form a “Green” Committee to evaluate current school practices on campus and identify opportunities to implement additional environmentally responsible practices. • Enhance the existing Safety Plan, identifying key safety priorities for the campus.



• Continue the Innovative Spaces Initiative, a campaign started last year to challenge teachers and administrators to reevaluate classrooms, hallways, play areas, study facilities, and gathering spaces to stimulate collaboration and more effective learning. Consider creating areas where students can gather to share resources, collaborate, invent, network and build.

Strategic Goal: Ensure St. Mary’s offers an academically excellent curriculum with opportunities for individualization while recognizing the importance of balance. Implementation Steps: • Conduct a thorough analysis of St. Mary’s existing curriculum, including science, language arts, mathematics and interdisciplinary studies. Assess methods for strengthening and improving the curriculum in each area, specifically seeking opportunities for differentiation throughout each grade level.


• Reassess the mathematics and science programs in Early Education through Grade 8, emphasizing an inquirybased curriculum by incorporating projects, experiments, and hands-on tasks to engage the students, foster collaboration, and stimulate curiosity. • Direct the Academic Dean to research, develop and publish a report on the academic program of St. Mary’s IB curriculum. • Assess the scope and quality of our visual and performing arts program and facilities and identify areas for improvement. • Evaluate our student leadership and enrichment programs, identifying areas of improvement to allow students greater independence, autonomy, and responsibility to enhance their potential to become global citizens and leaders. • Assess our athletic department, including our physical education program, as well as our athletic teams and facilities to determine the best techniques to solidify our goal of developing the whole child, physically and mentally. • Create a plan to improve and promote St. Mary’s commitment to nurture, develop and support the whole child by creating an atmosphere of individualization and balance.


Alumni at Summer Jam 2015.


Strategic Goal: Reinforce and strengthen St. Mary’s as a leading IB World School in Southern California. Implementation Steps: • Create a “Portrait of a St. Mary’s Graduate” to reflect the traits and values the school intends to develop in students, including strong leadership skills, global awareness and engagement, and academic and intellectual curiosity.

• Conduct the required IB Self Study to prepare for our IB certification evaluation in the fall of 2016. • Evaluate the current status of St. Mary’s IB curriculum relative to other IB schools throughout the world. Determine the comparative strengths and weaknesses of how the school implements the IB Programme. • Develop and implement a program to educate St. Mary’s parents and the community about the IB curriculum. Continue to provide a program that is informative about IB’s philosophy to create inquisitive thinkers, strong communicators, and caring global citizens. • Position St. Mary’s as a thought leader in the community by producing informative educational publications, and hosting high quality Speaker Series events. • Examine and refine St. Mary’s marketing position statements to fully and accurately reflect the mission of the school, and how the IB curriculum is implemented to accomplish this mission. The position statements must guide the daily implementation of our IB Programme, and promote the IB curriculum as St. Mary’s unique competitive advantage. • Review and evaluate the existing St. Mary’s marketing materials to ensure they accurately reflect our vision.



• Create a plan to reinforce and enhance the international focus of our IB Programme. Consider areas where St. Mary’s may strengthen its international emphasis.

Strategic Goal: Provide our faculty with career and professional development opportunities to maintain the highest levels of excellence in teaching and learning. Implementation Steps: • Define the specific characteristics of Faculty Professional Excellence. Continue to provide innovative and ongoing professional development to St. Mary’s faculty to encourage critical thinking, self-reflection and dedication to lifelong learning and continuous improvement. Ensure that these professional standards are met or exceeded at St. Mary’s, and accessible to all faculty members.


• Continue to attract, support and retain outstanding faculty by providing that all faculty members are compensated at a minimum of the 75th percentile of applicable CAIS standards. • Promote and strengthen the image of the St. Mary’s faculty and staff as leaders in their fields.



Strategic Goal: Preserve the culture of the school as a community with diverse, collaborative, caring, engaged students, faculty, families and staff. Implementation Steps: • Create a committee composed of a representative group of St. Mary’s community members to evaluate the campus culture.

• Review the following aspects of our community: ethnic and economic diversity among the student body, parental involvement and engagement in our community, and the role of religion in both the St. Mary’s curriculum and as it relates to campus life and character education. Ensure these aspects align with our goal of creating a community of diverse, ethical, compassionate, and engaged global citizens.


• Identify how the school can continue to foster a cohesive community among its students, parents, faculty and staff, and articulate those ideals we intend to preserve. Recommend steps and procedures to ensure the preservation of our inclusive campus culture.

St. Mary’s School 7 Pursuit Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Strategic Plan 2016-2019  
Strategic Plan 2016-2019