Strategic Plan. What our school can be. Program, goals, and strategies. Approved 2007

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1 Strategic Plan Approved 2007 Program, goals, and strategies What our school can be

2 Letter from The Head of School Dear Friends, When I first arrived at The Catherine Cook School as the new permanent head, it was clear to me that this job would involve getting to know a new community and discovering what might be next for a young school in transition. Over the past year, a broad panel of committed teachers, dedicated trustees, supportive parents, and insightful administrators have worked together with me to consider those choices and to plan our school s future path in detail. We have had rich conversations and made thoughtful recommendations about all facets of life at The Catherine Cook School: our academic and co-curricular programs; student body; faculty, staff, and administration; marketing and community; physical plant and facilities; and finance and fundraising. It is with great pride that we share our vision with you in the form of this Strategic Plan. This Strategic Plan has been prepared so that we may be accountable to you, our constituents. I encourage you to take the time to review it, make notes, and ask any questions that occur to you. I am confident that the hard work and dedication that so many people gave to our school throughout the strategic planning process will become apparent to you as you peruse this document. I look to our future with incredible optimism. We all have important work to do for our school to be successful, but what more important work is there than building a firm foundation for the future of our children? I am eager to face the future and the challenges ahead. Please join me in celebrating and nurturing our great potential. Educationally yours, Michael B. Roberts Head of School

3 PROGRAM Goal: Create, implement, and annually review a comprehensive and academically excellent curriculum that responds to the needs of the whole child. Rationale: The strength, the breadth, and the quality of our program define us as a school and provide the critical preparation for students that families seek from a junior school education at Catherine Cook. 1. Systematically review and align curriculum both horizontally and vertically for academic excellence and best practice. 2. Create and implement a comprehensive student assessment model. Determine appropriate uses for standardized testing and ways to recognize student achievement. 3. Support cross-curricular themes, such as service learning and global awareness. 4. Integrate character education into the academic program and establish a code of conduct and communication to create a climate of inclusion, trust, and mutual respect. 5. Systematically review critical infrastructures, such as facilities and technology, for efficient use of resources to support the academic program. 6. Regularly review student support services to ensure that CCS students with learning differences are being well served. 7. Coordinate a comprehensive program of co-curricular offerings, including athletics. Clarify roles of school personnel and other constituents in co-curricular programming and establish clear, consistent standards for accounting/finance, contracts, and regular review. STUDENT BODY Goal #1: Organize each division according to the academic, emotional, and social needs of students at each grade level. Rationale: The appropriate placement of grades in each division greatly influences the strength of our educational program and professional community of faculty and administrators. 1. Establish Senior Kindergarten as a part of the Early Childhood Division while providing opportunities for substantial collaboration between Senior Kindergarten and first-grade teachers. 2. Investigate Lower School and Middle School organizational models to determine the optimal placement of the fifth grade, considering the academic, social, and emotional needs of students at this level. 3. Address the transitional issues faced by fifth-grade students within the Middle School until optimal divisional placement is determined. Goal #2: Create optimal learning environments that support close and effective teacherstudent relationships by setting reasonable class sizes. Rationale: Small class sizes encourage positive and productive connections between students and teachers, creating learning environments in which children thrive. 1. Determine optimal class sizes in each division and at each grade level, considering pedagogy, personnel, facility, and students developmental needs.

4 2. Set enrollment goals that drive our admission process, managing adequate wait-lists for each grade level. 3. Determine the best Early Childhood enrollment model that will support our long-term goal of three class sections per grade level. Goal #3: Attract and retain a diverse student population that embodies the essential qualities of a Catherine Cook student. Rationale: Actively recruiting students and families who represent many kinds of diversity will instill in students an appreciation of differences in others and prepare them well for life as global citizens. 1. Form a diversity committee to include members of the school administration, the faculty, the parent body, and the alumni. 2. Budget for adequate need-based financial aid and increase awareness of the financial aid program to develop a more socio-economically diverse student body. 3. Retain appropriate professional assistance to develop recruitment and marketing strategies that will attract and retain a more diverse faculty and student body. 4. Implement appropriate support strategies for diverse students, families, and employees. 5. Develop partnerships with local, regional, and national organizations to recruit a diverse student body across all grade levels. Goal #4: Create a standardized admission and assessment process/protocol for applicants at each grade level. Rationale: A standardized admission process and assessment protocol will help us create and sustain an inclusive student body that exemplifies the essential qualities of a Catherine Cook student. 1. Develop an admission calendar. 2. Develop academic admission criteria and an admission assessment protocol for applicants at each grade level that will ensure the successful recruitment of students who are academically well suited to our program and families who represent a strong fit with our school community. 3. Develop a social and emotional behavior assessment tool. 4. Develop a program to train teachers to use these assessment protocols and tools. Goal #5: Develop and implement a curriculum that will foster responsibility, respectful behavior, and global awareness in our students. Rationale: Compassionate, respectful students who are committed to social responsibility and service will become active members of their local and global communities. 1. Develop a developmentally appropriate service learning program schoolwide. 2. Create opportunities for peer mentorship. 3. Integrate character education into the curriculum.

5 FACULTY, STAFF, & ADMINISTRATION Goal #1: Attract, support, and retain highly qualified, diverse, motivated, and inspiring teachers, administrators, and staff who are committed to the school s mission. Rationale: Our employees are the backbone of our school, and their skill, dedication, and personal example make it possible for the school to fulfill its mission of inspiring and educating children for life. 1. Maintain a competitive and equitable compensation and benefits structure. 2. Annually review and adjust staffing needs. 3. Create, implement, and review a plan for increasing employee diversity. 4. Create, implement, and review employee evaluation procedures. 5. Reward and acknowledge excellence and leadership. 6. Support authentic participation of faculty and staff in decision making. Goal #2: Create, implement, and support a program for high-quality, ongoing professional development for all employees. Rationale: Keeping employees abreast of current and best practices raises the bar of teaching excellence. 1. Review and restructure professional development priorities and budgeting. 2. Tie professional development opportunities to the school s mission, curriculum goals, and strategic initiatives. 3. Consider granting academic sabbaticals based on tenure and the quality of employee proposals. 4. Cultivate productive professional relationships with local universities. 5. Reward employee commitment to professional development through annual salary review consideration. 6. Establish meaningful opportunities for employee leadership. 7. Provide opportunities for peer observation, evaluation, coaching, and co-planning. MARKETING & COMMUNITY Goal #1: Connect internal and external audiences by defining, establishing, and promoting our school s clear, compelling, and distinctive identity. Rationale: A well-communicated school identity will attract strong and diverse applicants and faculty, maximize student retention, enhance fundraising, and strengthen relationships with peer schools and the larger community. 1. Define our core school identity. 2. Capture the words and the imagery that clearly and consistently communicate the unique and compelling Catherine Cook School experience. 3. Cultivate a culture of ambassadorship. Ensure that every constituency in the school is aware of and has the tools to communicate consistently the unique Catherine Cook School promise.

6 4. Identify and implement best practices for establishing and fostering a robust alumni program. 5. Promote our brand identity with a multifaceted marketing plan with exceptional communication tools including a world-class website with portals for current and prospective families; a prospective family information kit (viewbook); print and radio advertising; public relations efforts designed to attract strong applicants and attain recognition as a premier Chicago-area junior school; an annual report; and a newsletter. Goal #2: Nurture and demonstrate a strong sense of community among students, families, and employees. Rationale: A community environment at CCS will encourage the development of interpersonal responsibility, create an atmosphere of safety and belonging, promote family involvement in school life, and maximize student and faculty retention. 1. Further develop co-curricular group activities, including sports and the visual and performing arts. 2. Discover and embrace the school traditions that embody the CCS spirit and enhance community. 3. Foster a schoolwide attitude of mutual respect and cooperation through inter-grade interactions such as reading buddies, peer tutors, and safety patrol. 4. Provide educational seminars to equip parents to support their child(ren) s learning. 5. Support the Parent Association to provide opportunities for parent and family involvement throughout the school year. Goal #3: Cultivate a commitment to civic and global citizenship among Catherine Cook constituencies. Rationale: Student and family opportunities for involved citizenship will instill a commitment to social responsibility, foster global awareness and respect for diversity, differentiate CCS in the Chicago junior school market, and deepen the sense of school community through participation in shared endeavors. 1. Create and implement a schoolwide diversity initiative. 2. Require each grade to conduct an annual service learning project, with involvement from local businesses, schools, and organizations. 3. Use technology to connect and interact with students from other countries and schools (e.g., pen pals, exchange programs, etc.). 4. Continue schoolwide gatherings such as assemblies, picnics, and Parent Association events. 5. Strengthen and promote CCS signature experiences that extend learning beyond the school and the city (e.g., Global Village; Costa Rica; Washington, DC).

7 PHYSICAL PLANT & FACILTIES Goal: Provide a safe, environmentally conscious, and technologically advanced learning environment that supports our mission, philosophy, and strategic plan goals. Rationale: The Catherine Cook School must have adequate and well-maintained facilities to carry out its mission. 1. Establish a master facilities plan to accommodate our projected growth to a three-section per grade PS 8 junior school. 2. Continue to maintain current facilities to high standards of environmental sustainability, risk management, and fiscal responsibility. 3. Undertake immediate modifications to facilities to meet current needs, anticipate enrollment growth, and prepare for future construction and/or renovations. FINANCE & FUNDRAISING Goal #1: Implement a transparent, fiscally responsible, long-term financial plan. Rationale: The Catherine Cook School must be financially sound to execute its mission. 1. Formulate annual budgets on assumptions of 4 6% tuition increases through the academic year and anticipated annual enrollment growth of approximately twenty students. 2. Define the parameters of a qualified (need-based) financial aid program as a percentage of the school s total annual budget and set a policy regarding individual award levels. 3. Develop formal investment policies. 4. Provide for expanding technology needs. 5. Formulate a competitive employee benefits package. Goal #2: Coordinate and intensify efforts to develop non-tuition sources of funds. Rationale: To improve and maintain a high-quality program and physical plant, a competitive compensation structure, and adequate financial aid while keeping tuition competitive, the school must develop additional non-tuition sources of funds. 1. Increase participation in annual giving from current families, grandparents, and alumni families and intensify efforts to communicate to all constituencies the necessity of philanthropic support of education. 2. Identify specific annual projects that could be funded by leadership-level donors. 3. Initiate a comprehensive fundraising campaign to implement the school s facilities master plan. Consider establishing an endowment as an aspect of the campaign. 4. Increase donor recognition efforts. 5. Annually evaluate the effectiveness of the Auction/Benefit. 6. Explore other event-based fundraising efforts.

8 The Catherine Cook School 226 West Schiller Street, Chicago, Illinois t: f: w: catherinecookschool.org

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