This past Thursday, we held our first Professional Development Day. Such days are precious in our school. We treasure the opportunity to come together as professionals to focus on the goals that will make our school even better. Our dreams for our school are ambitious and we are eager to get started this year!
First, a bit of history: Last school year was my first year as the Director of Academia Cotopaxi. The time was right to create a new Strategic Plan that would chart our future for the next five years. We began by reviewing perception data from our community regarding our areas of strength and areas for improvement, we discussed new ideas in education, and developments in the world, near and far. We crafted a new mission statement, core value statements, and five strategic objectives to be accomplished over the next five years. Then we created five Action Teams, one for each of the strategic objectives, tasked with determining concrete steps towards accomplishing the strategic objectives. Over 100 individuals volunteered to be directly involved in developing our final Strategic Plan. Board members, teachers, parents, support staff, and administrators worked together over six months to develop the final Strategic Plan document. This is the blueprint for our future, owned by our community, and motivating us to a new level of change. Our journey towards transformation has begun!
Last Thursday, the faculty and staff spent time focused on just one strategic objective – School Culture. The quality of a school’s culture – its norms, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, ceremonies, traditions – is an indication of the quality of the school. We want to strengthen, uplift, and transform key aspects of our school culture. We started by looking closely at the current reality of our school culture in terms of students, faculty and staff, parents, leadership and facilities, systems and structures. Then we began describing the blue sky future that we desired and what needs to change to get there. From this giant set of wishes, we will identify a number of concrete steps to begin implementing this year.
For anyone involved in a change process, skepticism is a powerful deterrent! There are always naysayers, people who don’t believe that real change can happen, or people who continue to remain in their bubble, refusing to be part of the change, or people who choose to criticize from afar rather than get involved in the messy work of change. Change is complex and requires hard work. The path isn’t always clear or straightforward and there are mistakes along the way. I consider myself lucky because I have seen change happen effectively, successfully in previous schools.
Last Thursday, as I watched and listened to our faculty and staff, I saw people who were invested in this process, people who care deeply about our school and who are willing to get their hands dirty and deal with the hard stuff. The photos here capture the intensity, the seriousness, the engagement of our faculty and staff. This is the beginning of our transformation effort – having the right people doing the most important work – and I am full of hope and optimism for our future!