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Seeking Knowledge, Modeling Christ, Serving Others The Saint Matthew School Strategic Plan for the Future

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

In 2001, Saint Matthew School was formed as the only primary Catholic educational institution in Williamson County. Since our founding, we have abided by one principle that has always held true for our school, students and staff: to seek knowledge, model Christ and serve others.

Recently, a group made up of the Saint Matthew administration, faculty, students, parents, and alumni participated in the 12-month strategic planning process to review what we’ve accomplished in the 18 years since our founding and determine what we want to accomplish in the future. This group took a long and in-depth look at the school’s legacy and growth, and they decided on the action steps needed to prepare the school for the future.

Throughout all the discussions, one thing remained clear: as Saint Matthew nears its 20th year and we look to the next 20 years, our school will remain focused on our one guiding principle to seek knowledge, model Christ and serve others.

Although this guiding principle will remain, another truth emerged as well. If Saint Matthew is going to continue to seek knowledge, model Christ and serve others in the years to come, then we must take a number of critical steps to best serve the next generations of Saint Matthew students.

We will build on the recent steps we have taken to become a leader among schools in the diocese and the community. Here are just a few examples of that success.

  • 2017 was a banner year for us. We were proud and humbled when the U.S. Department of Education named Saint Matthew School a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School under the High Performing School designation. Out of the 130,000 public and private schools in the country, only 342 received the 2017 National Blue Ribbon Award, placing Saint Matthew in the top 0.3% of schools in the nation. In Tennessee, we were one of only two schools recognized as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.
  • Also, in 2017, we celebrated the opening of our PreK 4-year old program that develops children emotionally, cognitively, physically, socially and spiritually. Due to our highly regarded reputation, we maintained a full classroom during our first year.
  • Our academic program has grown with an expansion of the 6-8th grade math departments and a new, guided literacy program for our elementary school students. With these new programs, we can continue to offer the high caliber academics that you have come to expect from Saint Matthew.
  • We continue to put Christ first in all that we do, with a focus on modeling Christ and serving others. Therefore, for our middle school students, we started a new Campus Ministry program, which makes us the first Catholic elementary school in the diocese to have an active and defined campus ministry.
  • Coming this year, we are pleased to implement our “One student to One device” program, which also makes us the first elementary school in the diocese to offer this program.

While we are proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short time, we recognize we have more to achieve. If we want to fully embrace our mission to seek knowledge, model Christ and serve others, then we cannot stop here.

Below are the immediate areas of focus and our goals for each area as we prepare for the future of Saint Matthew School.

We have set an internal completion date of Fall 2021 for the following nine initiatives. We will begin working immediately to reach this goal; therefore, we have determined a number of sub-dates of completion within each initiative.
Catholic Identity

As part of our Catholic identity and faith, we believe in developing students who desire to use their God-given gifts and talents to serve their community and grow in their relationship and understanding of the Divine. To that end, we will encourage and welcome families of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to attend while maintaining our strong Catholic identity. We will continue to provide opportunities for our students to maintain and grow a strong Catholic faith foundation through participation in daily liturgies, parish activities and increased service activities.

To grow a strong Catholic identity, we will:

  • Engage 8th grade students more fully by increasing their participation in the daily liturgies.
  • Coordinate and promote parish youth activities within the school community in collaboration with the parish. The school will publish the youth activities in the weekly email to the parents.
  • Review the performance of students in grades 3, 6, and 8 to attain scores on the Assessment for Catholic Religious Education that would be among the top 3 in the diocese.
  • Increase the number of opportunities Saint Matthew School students have to participate in Room in the Inn or similar programs. Saint Matthew School will have a focus group comprised of parents and teachers to determine if the school will have required service learning hours. The focus group will meet in the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year.
Academics

To maintain and further the success of our 2017 National Blue Ribbon High Performing School designation, we will develop a plan to increase student knowledge and create lifelong learners by differentiating instruction and providing consistent support for all students.

Elements of that plan include:

  • Map curriculum in grades Kindergarten through 8. The first content area to be mapped will be writing. The writing map will be completed by May 2019 with curriculum recommendations to be implemented in the fall of 2019.
  • Saint Matthew School will implement the 6 +1 traits of writing or a vertically aligned writing program.
  • A committee will be formed to examine the best practices in the area of writing. The committee will be formed by December 2018.
  • The committee will also evaluate online textbooks for middle school social studies and science. This evaluation will be completed by January 2019.
  • Every enrichment class will offer one field trip or guest speaker in the academic year of 2018-2019.
  • The PreK will achieve 100% academic readiness for students who are socially and emotionally ready for Kindergarten. All students will score a minimum of 55 on the Kindergarten readiness exam.
  • Students will be expected to achieve 1.5 years beyond grade level on national standardized tests in the spring of 2019.
  • Saint Matthew School will implement a “One student to One device” program in the middle school.
Community and School

To fulfill our mission of seeking knowledge, modeling Christ and serving others, we believe in the importance of broadening our presence in the community and being a living example of the Gospel. To continue to serve others both in our community and abroad, we plan to:

  • Expand opportunities for students to experience Catholic social teaching,
  • Increase students’ understanding of our school’s mission in Haiti,
  • Investigate additional service opportunities at local organizations in our community, including NHC and the Lodge.
Student Life

Co-curricular activities in and out of the classroom that foster the growth and development of well-rounded students are just as important for students as a thriving academic program and faith-based school. Therefore, we will:

  • Open formal discussions with the Harpeth Valley Athletic Association about increasing the number of sports offered, including the possible organization of a girls soccer team in the fall of 2018, ready to compete by 2019.
  • Offer class retreats for all middle school grades so that at the conclusion of the 2019 academic year, every middle school class will have completed a retreat.
  • Increase the number of co-curricular activities offered. By 2019, the school will have six co-curricular activities, including Model United Nations, Forensics, Science Olympiad, and Drama Club.
  • Explore criteria for Cardinal Newman Honor Society and AdvancEd STEM certification. The curriculum director should produce a plan to be a member of the CNHS and obtain STEM certification by December 2018.
  • Lay the foundation for Junior National Honor Society. The Junior National Honor Society should have its first class inducted by the fall of 2019.
Enrollment Management

During our almost two decades of educational excellence, we have grown our enrollment to more than 410 students. Looking toward the next decade, we plan to maintain and sustain our optimal enrollment while advancing the mission of the school in the following ways:

  • Examine the possibilities of expanding the PreK program to a Preschool program. The PreK director will produce a report, including her recommendations, by January 2019 to determine whether a Preschool program is feasible.
  • Examine the costs and options of expanding the Cohan Hansom or a second floor of the school to benefit a Preschool program. The feasibility study for a school expansion and estimate of costs will be completed by May of 2019.
  • Develop a financial aid plan for non-parishioners.
  • Examine the non-Catholic perception of Saint Matthew School.
  • Increase student opportunities to experience diversity.
Advancement and Financial

As we look toward our next decade of educating future leaders and saints, we must also look toward creating a sustainable source of funds to ensure the vitality of our school for generations to come. To do so, we have identified several opportunities to increase the visibility of our annual fund and other giving opportunities, both within our parish and school community and within the broader Williamson County community.

Those opportunities include:

  • Starting an internship program to target alumni relations. The internship will start in the fall of 2018.
  • Increasing visibility of parish investment in the school.
  • Achieving $125,000 in annual fund giving and $50,000 in restricted giving by June 2019.
  • Increasing the endowment to $2.5 million by 2023.
  • Increasing the net amount raised on the Mane Event by February 2019.
  • Increasing participation in ABC and HSA dues payment by 33 percent by December 2018.
  • Investigating available grants related to STEM or other academic expansions by February 2019.
Marketing

To properly maintain and grow our enrollment, it is essential to have an effective marketing and communication plan that supports the mission of our school. Therefore, we will develop differentiated marketing plans that target various communities surrounding Saint Matthew and develop new communication vehicles to use when communicating with these communities.

- The marketing plans will be completed by November 1, 2018 and will target the following communities:

  • St. Matthew Parish
  • St. Philip Catholic Church and Holy Family Catholic Church - Within two years, we will offer a busing service for students in Brentwood, Franklin, and other Williamson County cities.
  • Bellevue, Stephen’s Valley, Franklin, West Franklin (Westhaven), Fairview (Catholic and non-Catholic)

- In addition, as part of our continuing outreach, we will broaden our marketing efforts to members of the Spanish-speaking community.

- Gather 35% of alumni contact information.

- Have two communications targeting alumni, the first completed by December 2018, the second by May 2019.

Facilities

In our current educational institution landscape, it is vitally important to create and maintain a modern facility plan that ensures student safety and campus security while enhancing our students’ learning environment. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount; therefore, we have identified several opportunities to maintain a safe and secure campus.

They are:

  • Implement the recommendations given to the school by the Vigilance Group. To complete all recommendations by the Vigilance Group, Saint Matthew will develop a school safety committee. This committee will meet three times during the academic school year of 2018-2019.
  • Host a self-defense and student safety seminar by March 2019.
  • Propose a school resource officer to the Sheriff’s Department of Williamson County by fall 2018.
Governance

For any organization to prosper and flourish, the administration must rely on the advice of informed, dedicated and diverse stakeholders from within and outside the community. Therefore, we will maintain a Saint Matthew School Board that can advise, guide and monitor the school and administration in following the school’s mission and strategic plan, with the following reporting schedule:

  • The Vice-Chair will meet semi-annually with the Saint Matthew staff to monitor and direct the progress of meeting the stated strategic goals and
  • The Vice Chair will report monthly to the school board on the status of the strategic plan.

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