Ted Talks January/February 2023: Shining a Spotlight on Three Strategic Priorities

Ted Graf, Head of School
It is easy to be anxious these days, very easy. This has been true many times in human history and it is especially true for those of us in care of children and students–both parents and educators. While it can feel counter-intuitive given the daily demands of the world, it is important for us to think ahead and do our best to imagine what our school could become for current and future students.
In an article from 2010 about the shift to digital publishing, the writer, Ken Auletta, elicited this quote from Markus Dohle, “If you want to make a decision for the future, fear is not a very good consultant.” In my work with you, faculty/staff, students, and the Board of Trustees, I am committed to leaving fear at the door and finding all the ways that a caring, connected, nimble, and vibrant learning community can move forward.

So in the spirit of a mid-year reflection, here’s an update. Since last fall, we have made significant progress in understanding our challenges around faculty compensation; designed a thoughtful way to study and consider school size; and have made progress in understanding both the challenges and opportunities that exist in our facilities. From all of this work and effort, three strategic priorities have come into sharper focus. 

First, the school is committed to making significant strides to compensate our guides and staff more competitively. Unfortunately and in light of some of the adjustments we made in response to the pandemic, we fell behind in our compensation systems, and this has impacted faculty recruitment and retention. We know from parent survey responses back in the fall and from anecdotal conversations that the guides and staff are the key to each student’s experience. And we know we all learn best from people we respect and love.

Second, the school is prepared to do the work necessary to get clear on the ideal overall size of the school and the ideal size of specific programs. Paul Cronin has been leading this project, and he has spent time reviewing the research and talking with faculty and staff. In the coming weeks, he is hoping to hear from parents via a survey and focus groups. Look for a note from him soon for opportunities to give input and engage.

And, third, the work on ideal and intentional size must happen over the next several months, so we can plan more deliberately and imaginatively for the kinds and size of facilities we need, and so we can provide the guides with the spaces where they can do their most inspiring work with the students. As many of you know, our facilities grew and evolved organically. Even though they have kept pace with the growth of the school, in our next phase, we need to be more intentional, and we need to link our programs and enrollment to any facilities changes.

If you’re able, I hope you’ll join me at one of my upcoming sessions where I will share my thoughts about these priorities in more depth. If you cannot attend but have questions or advice about any of these three areas, please contact me, and we’ll find some time.

I’m hosting three events coming up soon–one virtual and two in-person–and I invite any parent to attend the event that fits their schedule best.

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As a 501(c)3 non-profit school, Headwaters School does not discriminate because of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other classes protected by federal, state, or local law in its admissions, financial aid, hiring, or board membership processes.