20 May Envisioning Woodstock’s future
Thanks for visiting this post. Apologies to the 25 of you who have already come here and found nothing – we’ll catch up as quickly as we can.
Woodstock has, I’m sure, always been looking to the future. Many who read this blog will be able to look back to the changes which Rev. Bob Alter made, in enabling Woodstock to begin the transformation from a mission school to an international Christian school – changes which are still being worked out. I have with me a long, typed document from 1992 in which a lot of Woodstock’s special qualities were discussed, and the importance of developing them was emphasized. In 1996, the most extensive recent effort in this area resulted in “Service Through Excellence”, a fifteen-year plan. I’ve uploaded a scan of the summary pages. When I (Pete Wildman) arrived at Woodstock in 2002, we were nearing the halfway point of that plan, and we worked on the next phase, which we called “Achieving Excellence”. In conjunction with a major capital campaign which raised over $6 million, we were able to use that plan to move forward considerably over the next six years.
By 2009, the Board and administration were working on the next plan. Major contributions were made by the “Core Committee”, which canvased alumni opinion about Woodstock’s distinctive characteristics, and envisioned far-reaching changes. One very practical outcome of this period was the construction of the gym and the new hostel. Further work was done on a “Strategic Master Plan” during 2010. At its meeting in September 2010, the Board received this work, and commissioned a small team to narrow the focus and test the key areas identified as critical to Woodstock’s future development. “The Brief” was written and then tested with several hundred staff and alumni in a series of focus groups in the US, India, Australia and at Woodstock. Based on that feedback, the Board at its March 2011 meeting determined to press forward by creating a series of actionable plans to achieve the school’s strategic priorities.
The Board’s mandate
B-11-28-1 The Board immediately appoints a planning team (the Strategic Planning Coordination Committee), made up of 6-8 Board members and staff, to do the following:
· Review and recommend changes (if any) to Woodstock School’s Mission Statement and Desired Student Objectives to the Board by June 15
· Proceed to detailed actionable planning (with priorities, strategies, actions, timelines and costs), in conjunction with the MSA Accreditation process, which as a minimum, addresses the following critical issues:
a. Vision & Leadership
b. Staff Recruitment & Retention
c. Student Diversity
d. Academic Standards
e. Identification and enhancements of distinctive characteristics of the school
· The result of this process will be an Action Plan for each of the above 5 areas for approval by the Board at its AGM in 2011.
The Strategic Planning Committee consists of: David Schoonmaker ’62 (Board Member), Rev. T.Z. Kundan (Board Member), Dr. David Laurenson (Principal), Amy Seefeldt ’93 (Assistant Head of Senior School, Academics), Kirsten Bradby ’96 (Admissions Director), Pete Wildman (Head of Communications; Facilitator).
The first task of the SPCC is to oversee the writing of a new mission statement. This is what we did:
· Looked at all the unsolicited comments and suggestions people had sent following the focus groups
· Identified what we thought were the key ideas which are central to Woodstock
· Through discussion, created a wording which we liked (Dr. Long, the new Principal, was with us for this bit.)
· Wrote a set of definitions to explain to ourselves and others what we meant.
· Discussed it with a group of staff, parents and students (the school’s “Planning Forum”).
We have now sent that out in a survey to get a wider range of responses. We’ll then take into account the suggestions people make, as well as the general weight of opinion, and the SPCC will write a version which we trust will gain widespread support. I doubt if we’ll please everyone, but that’s inevitable. At the very least, we hope that people realize that they have been heard and listened to. We need a mission statement which:
a. Faithfully and accurately represents the heart of Woodstock’s vision and intentions
b. Stretches our imagination and energy in striving towards its fulfillment
c. Excites us with the possibilities
d. Can be “unpacked” to create a set of values, aims and programs against which we can measure our progress.
That will be the next stage. Watch this space.