Strategic Plans have the reputation for being documents that take a lot of time and effort to create, and then sit on a shelf collecting dust. That is not the case here at Seneca Academy. They do take time and effort, but then they become living documents that guide the work of the school. My annual Head’s goals directly reference the current Strategic Plan, and I report regularly to the Board of Trustees regarding our progress. So I am delighted that Seneca Academy has recently completed and published a Strategic Plan to guide our growth and improvement over the next three to five years.
However, I know not everyone understands the importance of a Strategic Plan or the work that goes into creating one. Here are my top reasons why I think a Strategic Plan matters:
- Strategic planning gives constituents a “voice.” Over the past year and a half, Seneca Academy parents, teachers, staff, Trustees, and students have all been asked a variety of questions about what they like about our school, what they wish could change, what our advantages are, and how we can maximize those advantages. People feel included and valued when their opinions are requested.
- Strategic planning brings a community’s various constituents together to address the big picture of the organization. When we asked teachers, parents, and students step outside of their daily focus and think creatively about possibilities for our school, it was empowering. It also provided us with ideas and information that we wouldn’t have gotten another way.
- Strategic planning requires regular review of the mission and vision of the organization. The focus and goals organizations change over time. When we sat down with parents, teachers, and Trustees to revisit these organizational statements, it affirmed that we are still “on track,” but also highlighted that we needed to update them to reflect our current status as an IB World School. Routinely examining the mission and vision statements also helps to ensure that there is congruence between what we say we do, and what we actually do.
- In the process of strategic planning, organizations collect and use both external and internal data to inform their programming. We looked at local demographics, school populations and curriculum, and internal trends. While we do some of this throughout the year, we went more “in-depth” with this process and learned more about ourselves and our community.
- Strategic planning provides a unique opportunity to think creatively about the future of an organization. Without the constraints of budgets or logistics, we brainstormed what Seneca Academy could be. This allowed us to “think outside the box.” Ultimately, we are constrained by budgets and logistics, but this process helped us come up with some new creative goals.
- Strategic planning connects the Board of Trustees to the mission and vision of the organization. Although all constituents of the school need to know and understand the mission and vision, it is the Board of Trustees’ ultimate responsibility to ensure that they are upheld. The Seneca Academy Board of Trustees has always been very connected to our organizing statements, but they were the ones to give the final approval for the revisions.
- Strategic planning results in a comprehensive plan for the organization’s leadership to follow. This plan will directly guide my goals and focus over the next several years!
I am grateful to all the folks who worked so hard to get us to this place, and I look forward to working with faculty and staff, parents, Board members and students as we move forward with the implementation of our plan. Click here to review the Seneca Academy Strategic Plan.