I hope everyone had a restful and enjoyable spring break. Always excited to return to school, I was particularly energized to see our students return to campus this morning. One student shared with me how much driving her family had done over break, between the beach in Corpus Christi and then all the way to Dallas. I empathized because my family decided to drive 19 hours to South Carolina during the break to watch our daughter Tyne and her college teammates play three tennis matches. Spending time with her and being able to host her teammates and some of their parents made the drive easily rewarding. Over just a few days, it was wonderful to see a community of coaches, teammates, parents, several grandparents, and a few alumni gather around a group of young people to support their growth and commitment to excellence and each other.
Watching my daughter’s gave me the opportunity to think carefully about these dynamics in the context of what we strive to do as a School at Saint Mary’s Hall. Celebrating our students as individuals and as teams, and helping them strive for excellence in many areas is fundamental to our mission. As we move into the last few months of the school year, there will be many opportunities to share the great achievements of our students. We still have a lot to finish along the way, but it has been a tremendous year of growth for each of our students.
Our school also continues to grow institutionally, and we are coming to the final stages of our strategic planning process. As we put together a new strategic plan, we should recognize the tremendous value that our 2018 strategic plan gave in strengthening our School. Among the many highlights of what we achieved include a new daily schedule, a strengthened commitment to health and wellness, expanded interdisciplinary curriculum, science and arts internship programs, a restructured academic leadership team, and the augmentation of facilities, including the renovation of Lewis Field and the build-out of a new college counseling suite.
As I’ve written about previously (link), we began the process for our new strategic plan almost a year ago. With the guidance of Ian Symmonds, who conducted a study of our school, we also considered and analyzed the data from the survey we sent to our community in the fall. That work helped identify four key themes for our steering committee to consider:
• Vision & North Star: Articulate a first-time vision of the future and refine mission and core values.
• Enhance & Innovate: Enhance our academic excellence through innovative collaborations with global, local, and on-campus communities.
• Belong & Unite: Create a culture of belonging for the SMH community that brings together our community for greater good and common purpose.
• Advance & Sustain: Build a sustainable ecosystem of enrollment, philanthropy, programs, revenue, physical plant and human resources to promote culture of mutual support and alignment of purpose toward a common goal.
For each of these four themes, a design team has been meeting regularly to create strategies to meet each of these goals. The work of those design teams is concluding, and the Board of Trustees will review the draft of the strategic plan at the final board meeting of the year in May. We are excited to launch the new strategic plan in the fall, and we will hold several community meetings next fall to share the details.
As we reflect on the accomplishments of the last several years, we should have pride in all that we have accomplished, despite the challenges of a pandemic. And, as we look forward, we will continue to build upon a strong foundation, striving for excellence as we create the programs and spaces that will truly prepare all of our students to thrive in college and find fulfillment in life.
Head of School