Sussex School Strategic Plan 2023 - 2028

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| 2023 - 2028
Strategic Plan

We are excited to unveil our 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. The purpose of this strategic plan is to establish the priorities and goals of our school over the next five years, and the structure and framework through which we can bring those ambitions to fruition. This effort pushed us to reflect on our 52-year history and to plan for our future within the context of the local and national educational landscape

The process of developing our strategic plan incorporated the insights and visions of our students, staff, faculty, board, and families Throughout the process, we asked ourselves “Who are we and what do we do well? How might we improve? What are the most pressing needs of our current school and of our stakeholders? What new paths and ambitions should we explore that would positively impact and further the mission of Sussex School?”

To establish a foundation for our strategic goals, we collectively committed to three overarching priorities for our school: To be a trusted leader in progressive education; to nurture and value our community; and to thoughtfully plan for the sustainable development of our campus and community. We believe these three priorities ground us in our mission to provide our students with a challenging, progressive education in a nurturing environment; uphold our commitment to the established values of critical thinking, creativity, courage, and citizenship; and move us optimistically forward towards our vision of a world where all children have access to a student-centered and joyful education

We want to thank everyone for their contributions to this effort with special appreciation for the strategic planning committee. Our vision for the future of Sussex School is bold and high-achieving and we will need the support of our entire community to realize it. We hope you will join us as we collectively strive to reach f ll l h l

We look forward to a successful, jo


Sussex Vision

We envision a world where all children have access to a student-centered and joyful education.

Sussex Mission

At Sussex School, our mission is to provide a challenging, progressive curriculum in a nurturing environment, so that students can become confident, enthusiastic learners and caring participants in their local and global communities.

Grow as Trusted Leader in Progressive Education

Priority One

Earn full accreditation with the Northwest Association of Independent Schools

Define progressive education and develop strategic messaging to align parents, educators, and leadership.

Invest in professional development to position the school and its educators as experts through shared learning.

Cultivate and steward ambassadors for Sussex School.

Examine and improve our progressive practices to enhance the student experience.

Inspire students to become lifelong learners who graduate from Sussex with a commitment to support the mission of Sussex School for future generations.

5 Year Goals

Nurture Relationships & Value our Community

Priority Two

Promote a positive school culture that embodies the values and mission of Sussex School.

Through continuous improvement practices, work to achieve high satisfaction among all students, parents, alumni, staff, and Board members.

Reflect on the current salary matrix and benefit structure, exploring other models, and integrate necessary changes for a comprehensive compensation philosophy that attracts, retains, and rewards high-performing employees at all levels.

5 Year Goals

Plan for the Sustainable Development of our Campus & Community

Priority Three

Reach and sustain the school’s enrollment capacity with students and families who will thrive at Sussex.

Clearly identify and effectively communicate a unified financial strategy for the school, integrating tuition, tuition assistance, fundraising, and endowment.

Implement the comprehensive facilities plan that reflects environmental and economic sustainability, campus safety and well-being of students and staff, and our progressive education model.

Minimize and mitigate traffic with internal and external stakeholders. Determine the feasibility of a high school.

5 Year Goals

Sussex Values

Critical Thinking

Sussex students investigate how to ask relevant questions, make coherent decisions, evaluate complex material, develop ingenuity, and seek alternative perspectives. At Sussex we develop good judgement by asking questions.


Sussex students are encouraged to make new connections and generate original ideas that have value. Imagination and innovation are fostered through the development of students interests and passions. At Sussex we incubate fresh thinking in the systems that surround us.


Sussex students understand how to persevere when confronted with difficulty or fear, lean into challenges, embrace mistakes as learning opportunities, and value debate and discussion. At Sussex we encourage students to discover their best selves by taking risks.


Sussex students experience the value of community participation and learn how to communicate ideas and beliefs effectively, listen compassionately, disagree civilly, and effect positive change collaboratively. At Sussex we build leaders and changemakers.

1800 S. 2nd Street West

Missoula, MT 59801

Board of Directors

Ange Anderson, President

D’Et Heffington, Vice President

Katie James, Treasurer

Uma Healy, Secretary

Bente Winston, Founder

Taylor Brugh

Brent Hildebrand

Kiki Hubbard

Stephanie Lathrop

Kia Liszak

Melissa Neidigh

Charity O’Connor

Sabrina Smith

Expanded Board

Joellen Shannon, Head of School

Strategic Planning Committee

Bente Winston, Board

Betsy Craske, Faculty

Christy Deskins, Staff

Emily McMeekin, Staff

George Laufenberg, Board

Jodi Kulina, Faculty

Joellen Shannon, Staff

Lisa Whitcomb, Staff

Matt Zunker, Faculty

Christy Deskins, Assistant Head of School & Dean of Students

Lisa Whitcomb, Business & Finance Director

Kris Laroche, ZIP Teacher Rep

Joe Johnson, ZAP Teacher Rep

Virginia Rutherford, Office Manager

Carol Schwartz, Advancement Manager

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