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Strategic Planning: Community Rallies Around “White Paper Socials”

Strategic Planning: Community Rallies Around “White Paper Socials”

The ebb and flow of ideas, survey research and campus discussions continue to inform the evolutionary process that will lead to Phillips Academy’s next Strategic Plan. To date upwards of 2,000 faculty, staff, alumni, students, and parents have contributed to the process, and therefore, the plan’s early contour. Throughout the spring, members of the Strategic Planning Task Force facilitated discussions on how Andover’s founding values might help shape our definition of excellence in a contemporary context.

In addition to discussing strategy at “30,000 feet,” faculty and staff also considered the tangible aspects of teaching, learning and campus life. A series of “White Paper Socials” resulted in a collection of reports and recommendations to guide the school’s future. More than 50 papers were submitted by individuals and groups on topics including: homework and the life of the mind, interdisciplinary collaboration, the daily schedule, sustainability, learning and pedagogy, recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty, athletics, community service, diploma requirements, college counseling and advising.

In his own white paper, Head of School John Palfrey proposes three specific aspirations for the community to consider in greater detail: The redefinition of excellence and support for all PA students; The exploration and experience of life in a complex, global society; The exploration, development, and application of new methods of teaching and learning.

“These three areas of focus find deep roots in our founding principles – non sibi, youth from every quarter, knowledge with goodness, educating the minds and morals of our students – grounded in a time of revolution and unprecedented change in America,” he wrote. “Through these ideas we can embrace the most promising aspects of our interconnected, often chaotic global present, and prepare our students to manage the inevitable challenges they will face.”

While not the topic of a white paper itself, the Andover Institute will play an integral role in the execution of the Strategic Plan, particularly those goals associated with pedagogical innovation. Director Caroline Nolan remains immersed in a robust planning year supported by seed funding from the Abbot Academy Association and the Head of School Venture Fund. During this inaugural year, the institute is focused on three thematic areas: connected learning, global citizenship, and innovations in outreach. The Andover Institute is set to launch publicly this fall.

Testing these and other potential elements of the Strategic Plan while meeting with alumni and parents around the world, Palfrey looks forward to the task force’s continued work this summer. He will present a final plan to trustees at their November meeting.

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