In September of 2018, the Board of Trustees at Doane Academy unanimously endorsed Right Onward 2023: A Strategic Plan for Doane Academy. I am writing today to share with you the metrics we established to measure our success in addressing the Plan’s priorities and update you on our progress with its implementation. It’s been a very busy 14 months at Doane, and I am delighted to share with you what we have achieved.
George B. Sanderson, Headmaster
Priority One: Supporting Transformative Learning
Throughout the strategic planning process, our constituents consistently expressed the importance of a demonstrably strong academic curriculum, one in which excellence and student-centered outcomes are clearly defined at all levels. We have previously noted that it is clear that such excellence is facilitated not only by innovation and academic rigor, but also by learning outcomes that can only be reached in a diverse, healthy community.
1. Thoroughly revised our 10th grade English curriculum, incorporating a broader range of voices in a dynamic, theme-driven course that allows students to engage diverse perspectives and address compelling essential questions more fully.
2. Devoted time and financial resources to faculty development. In December 2018 and 2019, six faculty members attended the NAIS People of Color Conference. Throughout 2019, faculty members attended conferences and workshops on diversity and inclusion, sponsored by NJAIS and ADVIS. In August 2019, Doane hosted a morning talk and workshop by noted author and speaker Ali Michael, director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators. All of these programs, together with the ongoing work of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, helped to increase our faculty’s cultural competence.
3. Continued to create and support a more diverse faculty as a result of an intentional, highly focused program of recruitment and retention.
4. Redesigned our middle and upper school Lead Onward curriculum, with a particular focus on developing life skills, leadership, and character. Included in this redesign is the introduction of Lead Onward Seminars for seniors, using the Sustained Dialogue process to lead discussions with other middle and upper school students on issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
5. Implemented a new Health and Wellness curriculum in the middle and upper schools. This includes courses on Healthy Boundaries and Healthy Relationships in grades 9-12 and an increased focus on digital citizenship, personal device use, and study skills in the middle school.
6. Implemented Folio as a tool to promote faculty and staff goal-setting, conversations, and professional growth.
7. Conducted and analyzed a comprehensive survey of our young alumni. The results of this survey helped us celebrate perceived strength in our curriculum and community while providing evidence of relative weakness in other areas.
8. Created the role of Director of Studies and Academic Innovation, a position responsible for cultivating and presenting new and innovative academic programs across the curriculum.
9. Launched Discovery Days, an innovative co-curricular program that strengthens our Health and Wellness curriculum so that students are better equipped to build and maintain healthy, positive relationships and provides additional opportunities for students to explore their passions and experience transformative learning by enrolling in multiple "mini-courses". Offerings cover topics such as astrobiology, Greek philosophy, stage combat, political advertising, and many more.
Priority Two: Integrating Technology
The Strategic Plan recognizes the imperative to implement a technology plan that meets the growing needs of the school in the areas of instruction, administration, and communication. In addition, it acknowledges that time and training is needed for faculty to implement the use of technology in their classes and curriculum.
Our students must graduate with a firm grasp of current technological tools and the ability to teach themselves how to maximize the functionality of new tools as innovation in this area continues. In order to achieve our goal of educating the whole and healthy child, this priority includes a commitment to helping our students to make ethical decisions as digital citizens.
1. Completed and began to implement a comprehensive plan for integrating technology in our curriculum, as follows:
a. Enhanced the curriculum, including the integration of technology across all grades and the addition of technology-specific courses in AP computer science and coding, which is now taught to all 9th graders.
b. Implemented a 1:1 Chromebook program for all middle school students.
c. Supplied all faculty members with Chromebooks in conjunction with adopting Chromebooks as a preferred device for student learning.
d. Provided faculty and staff with ongoing, intensive professional development to assist them in integrating technology into their teaching.
e. Monitored and evaluated the integration of technology in courses across disciplines and grade levels.
Priority Three: Enhancing Our Campus
With the completion of building and renovation projects over the past ten years, our facilities now serve our student programs better than at any time in recent memory. However, we still have some programs that are underserved by our facilities. Moreover, we want our campus to inspire our entire community to develop new and innovative programs for our students. In other words, our current facilities and footprint should not limit the innovative work and enhancements that will come from this Strategic Plan.
We thus seek to plan for the necessary renovation and upgrade of our current spaces and physical plant, determine what additional facilities will be required to meet our current and future enrollment and programmatic needs, and secure funding associated with fulfilling such needs so we can take advantage of opportunities, should they arise, to acquire land or buildings adjacent to campus.
1. Completed a study of our enrollment capacity, given our current facilities. This analysis concluded that we currently have a practical limit of 260 students, given scheduling challenges. The study further concluded that our theoretical limit -- if scheduling were not an issue -- is 290 students. This theoretical exercise assumes that all of our “classroom equivalent spaces” are utilized at all times and scheduling is not an issue.
2. Completed the sale of 212 High Street. We determined that, because of its location, this structure would not serve our students’ needs. Moreover, the cost of renovating the structure was determined to be high relative to its potential to the school. Therefore, the Board of Trustees put the property on the market, eventually leading to its sale this month.
3. Completed the acquisition of the Boudinot School property. This 1 ½ acre property is located directly behind the school, across West Pearl Street. It was once owned by St. Mary’s Hall before being sold to the city of Burlington in 1955.
4. Commenced an analysis of our current needs, with a goal of developing a plan for the use of the Boudinot property in a manner that is consistent with the Strategic Plan.
Priority Four: Telling Our Story
Acting to further spread the message about Doane’s value will increase the number of applicants who will thrive academically, socially, and emotionally at our school. This growth of our reach ensures that future generations will benefit from the Doane Academy experience. In addition, by telling the story of our exceptional school more boldly, we will continue to attract outstanding faculty members and increase the engagement of alumni and friends of Doane.
This priority is one that will support the financial sustainability of Doane and allow for the continued growth of the programs and innovative teaching we provide to our students. We thus seek to invest in developing more technologically-advanced methods of telling our school’s story, to focus attention and resources on explaining the benefits of a high-quality early education program, and to create opportunities and programs that increase Doane’s visibility and reputation.
1. Completed a new 2 ½ minute film to be used with our marketing program.
2. Used the new film in an advertising campaign that began in July 2019.
3. Used the “b roll” of the film in an upgrade to the home page of our website, completed in September 2019.
4. Reorganized our admission office to better meet the goals of the enrollment management program.
5. Increased our marketing and advertising budget in an attempt to communicate our message more often, to a broader constituency.
6. Added the use of Google Ads to our marketing strategy.
7. Made design improvements to the fall, 2019 issue of Ivy Leaves.
8. Redesigned our Spring 2019 Open House program to increase attendance.