Thank you to everybody who shared thoughts regarding the next big opportunity for Cary Academy — via Twitter, directly with me through email, or by talking with members of our Leadership Team.

Let me take a few moments to update you on our strategic planning progress.

A few weeks ago, 24 members of our community gathered for two days of thought, discussion, and planning regarding Cary Academy’s future. To ensure the widest possible viewpoints, the Strategic Planning Committee consists of three representatives each from the board, administration, faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni. The board chair, board vice chair, and head of school round out the team.

The committee: Monica Udell, Ann Goodnight, Mike Ehrhardt, Laurie Mesibov, Jeff Kenney, Jim Johnson, Martina Greene, Heather Clarkson, Marti Jenkins, Palmer Seeley, Robert Coven, Alicia Morris, Joselyn Todd, Leya Jones, Sheila Rademacher, Lisa Mathis, Andrea Weathers, Kristin Murphy, Vera W, Ava R, Kendall B, Alex Wilson, Andy Walsh, and Sharice Chandler.

The weekend included some deep discussions about the school mission and our core values. We spent considerable time unpacking our mission: what it means to be a learning community and the concepts of discovery, innovation, collaboration, and excellence. Our mission statement has been our guide for the past 18 years, and we believe that it has never been more relevant in shaping our work than it is today.

We examined the strengths and the weaknesses of Cary Academy, looking for those big opportunities or the significant threats that should be addressed in a strategic plan. We talked about how to improve our programs, but many of those ideas were put into a “parking lot” for consideration by the school’s leadership team as part of CA’s continual improvement plan. Important, yes, but not at the level that they required inclusion at the strategic level.

At the end of the retreat, we identified four major goal areas to explore over the course of this year.

  • Creating institutional flexibility to facilitate dynamic and innovative learning experiences.
  • Fostering the intellectual and cultural elasticity needed to thrive in an interdependent world.
  • Strengthening existing relationships and forging new connections to embrace fresh perspectives and opportunities.
  • Building the professional and learning environments necessary to realize our dreams.

The language of these goals has not been finalized, but we have enough of a working draft to put teams on the task of identifying strategies and action plans to make them a reality. The strategic planning committee seeded this process with many of the ideas that came up through our discussion over the weekend.

We have now turned over the work to action team leaders, who will be pulling together new groups to develop strategies and action plans. Those team leaders are: Robin Follet, Dawn Bates, Michael McElreath, Nicky Stewart, Kristi McGauley, Meredith Stewart, Laura Werner, Debby Reichel, and Michael Hayes.

Our committees will be reaching out for more thoughts and ideas through the winter. They will report their first draft of strategies to our Strategic Planning Committee and our Board in January. The final strategic plan will be approved by the Board in April.

In addition, we have launched a search for a new position at Cary Academy: Director of Technology and Innovation, to begin in July 2015. This individual will be key in helping us achieve our goal to be a leader in technology innovation and a model for schools in North Carolina and beyond.

This is such an exciting time for our school, and I’m looking forward to sharing more as the year unfolds.