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St. Stephen’s Episcopal School

Strategic Plan From The Hill to the World


Our shared purpose is to inspire a lasting love of learning and spirit of service so that each of our students lives a life of meaning and enriches the world.


St. Stephen’s Episcopal School is pleased to announce the creation of a new five-year Strategic Plan for the school, Spark 2023.

Spark: A flash of light. A point of illumination. That moment in time when one element transforms into another. Spark 2023 is a community-wide kindling of inspiration, imagination and intention that will guide our strategic plan for the coming five years. Spark 2023 represents our greatest hopes for our school community, from ideas to implementation, as we forge the brightest possible future for St. Stephen’s together.

During the 2017–18 school year, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School community worked together to develop a new five-year strategic plan. The strategic planning process provided meaningful opportunities for the school community to recommit to our core values, recognize our strengths with an eye toward leveraging them in the future, and co-create a compelling vision for the school’s future.


“The strategic planning process was an opportunity for the full school community to dream together about ways that St. Stephen’s can continue to grow as an institution and reach new levels of excellence in the years ahead.” —

head of school chris gunnin

Recommitting to Our Founding Principles Prior to developing a new strategic plan that would delineate a clear path for our school’s future, we spent time reflecting on and recommitting to our founding mission and values. St. Stephen’s was founded in 1950 by bold and progressive visionaries, who sought to build a school that would, in the words of the Rt. Rev. John E. Hines, provide “an education that concerns the whole person: mind, body and spirit.” Since its inception, St. Stephen’s has been a top-tier college preparatory boarding and day school committed to programming excellence, diversity, inclusion and social justice. Grounded in Episcopal traditions and values, St. Stephen’s was the first coed Episcopal boarding school in the United States, and the first integrated boarding school in the South. Throughout the last seven decades, much has changed relative to the complexity and composition of the school’s student body and campus, but our founding principles and guiding ethics remain true to our origins. Mission, Vision and Core Values Central to St. Stephen’s strategic planning process was the creation of new mission and vision statements, as well as five focused core values that characterize and reemphasize who we are as a school and all that we hope to provide for our students and graduates. Adopted by the board of trustees in February 2018, the new mission defines our shared purpose as one seeking to inspire a lasting love of learning and spirit of service so that each of our students lives a life of meaning and enriches the world. Our five core values encapsulate the promise we make to our students and their families when they join our school community. They reflect the central belief system that we embrace and strive to uphold every day, across all corners of The Hill: love of learning, balance, diversity, community and service.


Community Engagement To ensure a successful outcome, a wide range of St. Stephen’s constituents — students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni and trustees — had meaningful opportunities to engage in and contribute to the strategic planning process. 1. Core Values Assessment September 18-20, 2017 Using St. Stephen’s core values as a springboard for discussion, constituent groups considered the underlying ideals behind these values and how they align with our daily activities and decisions. Approximately 178 people attended the Core Value Sessions. 2. Community Surveys October 4–13, 2017 Surveys were distributed electronically to a wide scope of school constituents to gather their views on the school’s strengths and potential areas for growth. Participation was voluntary, respondents were anonymous, and results of the 539 complete surveys were compiled by an outside researcher. When considered alongside in-depth analysis of internal and external issues that could impact the school in the next five years, the survey data helped define and frame St. Stephen’s strategic priorities for the next five years.


3. Visioning Day January 27, 2018 Participants examined the school’s strategic priorities against the backdrop of its core values and mission to determine what “success” will look like for St. Stephen’s in 2023. By the end of the day-long workshop, the school had collected a broad range of input from 176 participants to synthesize into a strategic framework of Vision, Goals and Strategies, which were approved by the board of trustees. 4. Initiative Drafting Workshops February 26–28, 2018 In a series of workshops, organized by stakeholder groups, more than 80 participants proposed new projects, programs and activities that would advance the new strategic plan. The resulting Initiatives were vetted by the administrative leadership team. The final approved Initiatives were assigned an initiative leader and a timeframe for completion.



By 2023, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School will be a vibrant and inclusive community inspiring all learners for lives of meaning and impact from The Hill to the world.

Strategic Drivers The wide scope of community engagement and input from constituents led to the creation of the three Strategic Drivers that were examined against the backdrop of our core values and school mission on Visioning Day. These drivers identified what the school must leverage, change or innovate in order to: I. Define and Align our School Identity – who we are as an institution and what we stand for; 2. Add Value to the Student Experience – how we can enhance students’ unique educational journeys; and 3. Add Value to Society – ways we can help improve the greater community we all serve, both individually and collectively. These three imperatives provided the framework for St. Stephen’s new strategic plan. In addition to identifying how best to build upon the value and benefits of a St. Stephen’s education, they lay the groundwork for engaging a new generation of Spartans in the meaningful work of developing the academic, athletic, creative, social, ethical and spiritual gifts and talents St. Stephen’s students and graduates will need to thrive in an ever-changing world. Goals, Strategies and Initiatives Using the school’s new mission and core values as a guidepost, community members and event participants ultimately outlined three Goals, 16 Strategies and close to 60 Initiatives that will help us achieve our collective vision for the school without straying from the rich philosophical framework on which St. Stephen’s was built. The resulting Goals, Strategies and Initiatives all branch from a single, overarching Vision for the school’s future: By 2023, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School will be a vibrant and inclusive community inspiring all learners for lives of meaning and impact from The Hill to the world.




St. Stephen’s Strategic Plan, Spark 2023 GOAL ONE

Strengthening Our Community Through Faithfulness to Our Mission By 2023, the enduring mission and core values of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School will inform all policies and practices. Strategies to Achieve this Goal • Engage all members of our school community in appreciating the richness and lifelong value of the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School experience • Commit to increasing socio-economic and cultural diversity among students, faculty, staff, administrators and trustees • Cultivate wellness, social-emotional health and spiritual fulfillment throughout the school community • Evaluate and improve institutional structures, policies and practices to serve our mission and values • Ensure a financially sustainable future that best supports our mission and vision Goal Champions Yvonne Adams, director of equity and inclusion, and the Rev. Todd FitzGerald, school chaplain Initiative Highlights • Increase academic and emotional support for all students in customized, individualized ways • Examine the new student orientation experience to improve transitions • Increase endowment and Emerging Scholars gifts in order to decrease reliance on fundraising to balance any current year’s operating budget • Evaluate student programs in order to identify financially feasible and mission-appropriate offerings • Implement administrative digital record-keeping and audit existing web-based resources for accessibility and ease of use • Increase and coordinate efforts to recruit and retain faculty of color • Expand alumni engagement beyond fundraising • Hire a Human Resources director



Balancing the Student Living and Learning Experience By 2023, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School will be a boarding and day community that provides a balance of joyful exploration, reflection and self-discovery, and the vigorous pursuit of excellence. Strategies to Achieve this Goal • Capitalize on the unique opportunities to fully live in community as a blended boarding and day school • Foster a culture of healthy exploration • Cultivate joyful and exemplary learning and living environments • Enhance curricular offerings and academic structures to more deeply engage our students and faculty in the learning and living experience • Develop and implement further outdoor education opportunities • Support and sustain a dynamic faculty in continual growth, development and innovation Goal Champions Kim Garey, academic dean and assistant head of Upper School, and Jon McCain, director of athletics Initiative Highlights • Explore, examine and recommend strategies to provide boarding experiences for day students • Examine and assess current academic (required and elective) curricular offerings and make recommendations for implementation • Define opportunities and create a plan for guest speakers and visiting lecturers to enrich campus discussions and inspire students • Implement co-curricular enhancements that improve the student experience • Create a Makerspace/Innovation Lab • Create, resource and implement a comprehensive and coordinated wellness program that meets the unique needs of St. Stephen’s • Establish a full-time director of outdoor education who could more fully develop opportunities for students to experience outdoor education and adventure



Making a Difference from The Hill to the World By 2023, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School will be an informed and innovative community that champions solutions to social, environmental and ethical issues. Strategies to Achieve this Goal • Empower all members of our community to be bold, ethical and engaged in the authentic pursuit of social justice and service to others on campus, locally and globally • Provide students with opportunities to explore and engage with models of ethical and intellectual leadership • Become an institutional leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship Goal Champions Wallis Goodman, dean of faculty and history/art history teacher, and John Rocklin, classical languages department chair and Middle School English teacher Initiative Highlights • Develop and support a comprehensive Fine Arts outreach program locally and beyond • Establish the Bishop Hines Center for Social Justice to strengthen our commitment to our Episcopal identity through social justice, service learning and care creation • Create a Global Classroom to connect our community to the world • Research, assess and create resources that connect current students with alumni and parents in the working community • Identify areas for resource conservation • Design and build solar capabilities that would power campus operations • Implement necessary and feasible improvements in institutional practices related to food sourcing and waste • Create and implement an updated land management plan with annual goals and measures



Strategic Plan Implementation Throughout the next five years, the St. Stephen’s community will move from strategic planning to implementation of the plan initiatives. Toward this end, the school has established an Implementation Oversight Team, identified six Goal Champions and selected a number of dedicated initiative owners, whose campus roles align with and complement their assigned strategic initiative. 1. Implementation Oversight Team – maintains a macro view of the strategic plan and serves as the link between administrators and the board of trustees. The Implementation Oversight Team consists of Head of School Chris Gunnin and Trustee Jolynn Free. 2. Goal Champions – serve as project managers for the work of initiative owners in the goal area for which they have responsibility to help ensure the tasks of implementation—initiative prioritization, tracking, reporting, evaluation and recalibration—are accomplished. Goal Champions are all members of the school’s administrative leadership team. 3. Innovative Owners – serve as the go-to people for the implementation of individual initiatives. Initiative owners, who were selected by the Goal Champions, are responsible for driving and overseeing progress of their specific strategic initiative. Initiative owners will develop teams, when appropriate, of colleagues, parents, students and friends of the school to work with them to help implement their assigned initiative. In addition to driving the success of St. Stephen’s new strategic plan from the ground up, Initiative Owners will report back to the full school community, twice annually, on their progress implementing their assigned strategic plan initiative. For the most up-to-date news on the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Strategic Plan, Spark 2023, please visit our dedicated webpage at


Strategic Planning Committee St. Stephen’s Episcopal School’s strategic planning process was guided by the following members of the school community, who worked diligently and thoughtfully throughout the 2017–18 academic year to ensure a visionary plan was developed that would carry St. Stephen’s forward for the next five years. Committee Leadership Head of School Chris Gunnin, Trustee Jolynn Free and Trustee Ellen Osborne Ray ’86 Committee Members Yvonne Adams, Janet Allen, Michelle Andrews, Paul Byars ’07, Anne Marie Becka, Alison Chang, Jessica D’Arcy, Laurel Eskridge, the Rev. Todd FitzGerald, Rebecca Gibbs, Greg Hicks ’68, Rebecca O’Hara, Shannon Ratliff ’86, John Rocklin, Melissa Rubin, Temple Webber III and Vicki Woodruff Center for Strategic Planning To help ensure a successful outcome, the board of trustees retained Christina Drouin to guide the strategic planning committee. Founder and executive director of the Center for Strategic Planning, Drouin is a national leader in the field of independent school strategic planning.


St. Stephen’s Episcopal School 6500 St. Stephen’s Drive Austin, Texas 78746 512.327.1213

Profile for St. Stephen's Episcopal School

St. Stephen's Strategic Plan  

During the 2017–18 school year, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School community worked together to develop a five-year strategic plan. The proc...

St. Stephen's Strategic Plan  

During the 2017–18 school year, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School community worked together to develop a five-year strategic plan. The proc...