In 2016, the Board of Trustees spear-headed a process to define our next strategic plan. An ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee was gathered, composed of 14 representatives of Carolina Friends School trustees, staff, and students.
In January of 2017, we worked with a consultant to gather input from the community — parents/guardians, staff, alumni, and Upper School students. That same month, we held three "listening sessions" with small groups of staff and parents/guardians. Analysis of these many data points led to a definition of the community's perceptions of our School's strengths as well as areas of opportunity. This process affirmed the importance of our mission and philosophy, the quality of our staff, the strong sense of community, and the value of our child-centered education. It also brought a shared sense that our work accessibility and in diversity, inclusivity, and equity were areas for improvement.
After gathering and hearing community voices, five working groups of staff and trustees were formed in the fall of that year, focused on program, culture, advancement, finances, and facilities. Additional members of staff and trustees were called to the groups, clerked by members of the ad hoc committee (around 50 people in total). The groups crafted a set of strategic priorities in each of the five areas, submitting them in December.
Through the spring of 2018, the ad hoc committee reviewed and discussed the proposals to select a final set of priorities. Over the summer, the original committee laid down its work, as some staff retired or left the school, trustees completed their terms, and the student representatives became graduates. In fall, a smaller group began drafting the first attempt at a strategic plan document. The process that ensued created not just a plan but a vision that would not only see the school through the next five years, but set in motion commitments that will benefit the school for many years to come.
While the final discernments and crafting of language were the work of that representative group, the concerns for our children and ideas for what might be possible came from our entire community. We are so grateful to the committee for holding us in this process, and for the work of the many who contributed, in ways big and small, to this final articulation of our shared vision.