It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through the school year. It seems like September was just a few days back, but I guess that is the way life goes. The older I get, the quicker it passes me by. With that said, it is nice to have a few minutes to enjoy the Christmas spirit, to reflect on the life of St. Paul’s School these past few months, and relish in the uniqueness that makes us a one of a kind school in our greater community.
From a governance standpoint, the St. Paul’s School Board of Trustees have been busy at work. As mentioned in an earlier blog, one of our major accomplishments this past year was receiving a seven year accreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), a significant accomplishment in the life and legitimacy of our school. With this accreditation, CAIS provided us with a list of seven major recommendations that should guide a great deal of the goal setting and strategic planning we will undertake in the coming years. Earlier in December, we submitted our Future Planning Document to CAIS which maps out our intended efforts in addressing these recommendations in the years to come.
As an additional part of our governance work, we were also able to submit a projected three year budget that strategically prioritizes continued teacher professional development, compensation, and recruitment, as well as additional considerations for increased student services and facilities and grounds personnel. Although we are still very much in the deliberation stage of setting a 2020/2021 budget, this long range budget projection will serve as a nice jumping off point and should guide our discussion about tuition and fundraising priorities for years to come.
It is also worth noting that under the accomplished leadership of our Board Chair, Jocelyn Iverson, our board has been actively engaged in meaningful committee work and continues to develop new and efficient ways to operate in the fiduciary, strategic, and generative modes that exemplify highly effective independent school boards. Currently our board and its committees are focused on facilities improvement, long range planning, financial sustainability, advancement and fundraising, and governance/succession planning. These are no small tasks to undertake, but our Board of Trustees are dedicated to the cause, and keeping an eye on the future of our school.
As is always the case, our education team has been busy educating our students and making increased efforts to stay up on professional learning and current curricular developments and trends. Thanks to the generous support of our St. Paul’s School families, nearly 70% of our faculty and staff have attended (or are scheduled to attend) professional development opportunities that address their specific goals and needs. One of the greatest investments that we can make in the education of our children is to the education of their teachers, and we are working hard to make sure all of our teachers and staff are supported there.
Our education team is also busily evaluating and implementing new science and social studies curriculum in an effort to find a “best fit” for our school with the intention of adopting new curriculum for the 2020/2021 academic year. Although curriculum evaluation and adoption is a recursive process in education, it is our commitment to provide top rated and thoroughly evaluated curricular materials to all of our students. With the myriad resources out there, careful piloting and consideration are necessary for us to make a responsible choice. I cannot express my gratitude enough to our Educational Leadership Team and all of our teachers for the careful consideration they are putting in to this work.
In an overarching sense, one might consider the theme of this year as a movement back to our foundation, and making sure that all of our work is mission aligned. With that said, our education team has been tasked to imagine what this would look like in terms of teacher evaluation. During their division meetings, our teacher teams have been breaking down different aspects of our mission statement and then building them back together in terms of what each particular principle would look like in a student. From there, our teachers are asking themselves to evaluate the pedagogical competencies they would need to possess in order to educate our students in light of our educational priorities and our mission. The hope is that by this spring, we will have a teacher evaluation tool and protocol that will largely be teacher developed and reflect the specific principles and values that make St. Paul’s School such a special place to be.
In truth, the list does not stop here, and this only reflects a small part of the life and work of our school. The board, faculty, and staff of St. Paul’s School are some of the hardest working people I know, and are committed each and every day to maintaining a one of a kind educational experience for our children and your family. Certainly we are far from perfect, and we still have a lot of room for growth, but in our dedication to mission and to cause, we will continue to grow in healthy ways. I hope that you are all able to enjoy this holiday season, to spend time with family and friends at Christmas, and to celebrate the coming of yet another decade. Before long we will all be back here at it again. In the meantime, find time to rest and be thankful.
Seth W. Yocum
Head of School