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Constituents throughout the Valwood community were engaged in a strategic planning process in order to determine a long-range view of future priorities. This process gave us an opportunity to take a closer look at who we are as a school and what we aspire to be. We used the SAIS constituent survey to determine the congruence between what is valued by the community and the extent to which Valwood is able to execute those components. It was determined that the process would encompass data that included focus group responses, taskforce work, surveys and performance data.
To obtain a general sense of parental perspective on the overall “state of the School” the School administered a comprehensive survey. The survey results, which largely indicated very positive parental perception concerning the School, provided the foundational data to determine areas in which we would delve deeper. Further parental input was received through individual parent/teacher conferences conducted several times over the past year and a half by pre-k through grade twelve staff. In addition, the Head of School conducted five “coffees” hosted for families, which were helpful in gaining input from school families related to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for Valwood.
Rather than dividing staff into a series of static committees as is often done, a series of meetings were conducted by various steering committee members. These planning sessions were comprised of a variety of staff groupings, including general staff, Lower, Middle, and Upper School personnel, as well as various departmental meetings that permitted cross division communication. We believe that this methodology allowed us to focus on a broad spectrum of areas rather than on limited topics and levels, resulting in a greater diversity of input than was our previous experience.
In addition, staff was engaged through meetings and questionnaires to identify and discuss various concerns and potential strategies for school improvement. While these suggestions, along with those from other stakeholders, have been distilled by the governing board and steering committee into two primary, strategic foci, a number of important initiatives have resulted or are pending as a result of this process.
Our students are bright young people, and we enjoy engaging them in the conversation about the school and how to “make it better.” With current students, we administered an engagement survey and compiled the data to ascertain areas of strength and areas in which they thought we can improve. In addition, the Head of School met with families and students who left the school in order to determine the cause of the departure and to receive constructive feedback on our programs. Finally, the alumni association developed a survey to gather information related to student success after their time at Valwood. This information has helped to shape our programs and informs decisions on the best ways to keep our alumni involved in the life of the school.
The Governing Board has been engaged with a continuous improvement process since 2017, primarily through its strategic dialogue with the Head of School, along with its more informal dialogue with parents, faculty and staff. In 2018, the Board finalized the Strategic Plan. An overview of the plan includes the following areas:
We invite you to explore Valwood through our website, but the best way to learn more about our school’s mission and approach is to visit us. We hold admissions coffee-and-tour sessions monthly where you will learn about our curriculum and extracurricular programs, and you will also be able to see first-hand our beautifully designed, state-of-the-art facilities.