Strategic Planning

Building our vision together

Periods of extreme disruption such as the one we are currently in compel us to think differently about everything—opening up opportunity and providing impetus for growth. At Gould, we are striving to take full advantage of this moment.

We're choosing this time to take a fresh look at the school's mission statement, to renew the values that guide our decision-making, and articulate a clear vision of Gould's future with a strategy for long-term success.  Engaging the whole community in this effort will gain us the benefit of diverse perspectives, building broad alignment.

How it works

Who is Greenwich Leadership Partners (GLP)? 
To help ensure that we do our work thoroughly and well, the Board of Trustees has engaged Stephanie Rogen, the author of Creating Schools that Thrive, and her team at Greenwich Leadership Partners. This firm has extensive experience working with schools to guide them through a strategic design process. GLP is a consulting firm that helps many schools with strategic planning.  

What is a strategic plan? 
According to Greenwich Leadership Partners, “Planning is where strategy and leadership come together in a dynamic process for designing the future, making decisions and executing effectively."  

How will GLP help Gould?
  • Plan strategically for the future.
  • Harness our talent in the present.
  • Build capacity to execute in the present and future.
How does this get done? 
  • Workshops and focus group meetings
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Surveys to all types of stakeholders
Who will take a lead role? 
  • We all will. Community members' voices and ideas lead us forward. 
  • The Strategic Design Team will manage the process.  Team members include trustees, faculty and staff, parents, students, and alumni. 

Gould Strategic Design Team Members

1st row:
Sam Adams '77, P'18, Trustee
Doug Alford P'18, '20, Faculty
Rick Foyston '75, P'14, Trustee, Design Team Co-Chair
Maggie Furneaux '97, P'25, '26, Trustee

2nd row:
Ben Kamilewicz, Faculty
Frank Lee P'10, Former Trustee
Stephanie Montgomery P’00, Trustee ‘07-’10, ‘13 - ‘19, Faculty
Carter Ros, Faculty

3rd row:
Desiree Plata '99
Sara Shifrin '88, P'19, '23, Faculty, Design Team Co-Chair
Anita Tucker P'25

What's new? Updates about our progress

List of 10 news stories.

  • New Mission, Vision and Values

    In mid-June, the Strategic Design Team presented to the Gould Board of Trustees a final version of the Mission, Vision, and Values. We are proud to share this, as it will become formative in realizing our vision for Gould and decision-making going forward. 
    Read More
  • Mad Libs, Mottos, and Strategic Planning: Can Mad Libs help uncover Gould’s next mission statement?

    “Early drafting is like throwing clay on a wheel and playing with shape,” counsels Stephanie Rogen, the principal lead of Greenwich Leadership Partners. 

    During the November 28th in-service day, all employees were invited to help shape early drafts of Gould’s mission statement and core values. After a few laughs as different generations of Gould’s staff shared their Mad Lib memories, small groups dug into the work of identifying active verbs, clear phrases, and powerful nouns. Stay tuned for the next round of mission statements to cast a wider net for feedback. And tune up on your Mad Lib skills!  
    Read More
  • Gould's Strategic Plan: Update

    During Fall Family Weekend, Head of School Tao Smith ‘90, P’23 hosted a strategic planning update and the strategic design team held parent focus groups.

    Why is Gould updating the mission statement?
    The mission of the school is something that should be recognizable to all generations of students, including alumni who attended 30, 40, or 50 years ago, everyone should be able to read our mission and believe it’s aligned with their own experience. We are sharpening the focus of our mission by making sure the language is relevant. There's a character and an essence of “what is Gould” that doesn't change throughout time, but the language around it changes.

    How does the mission statement impact the strategic plan?
    A big part of our strategic plan is looking at the changing world, the world our students are going to inherit, and how we can use our mission statement to make sure we are positioning our students to have the greatest success now and in the future.  We will build alignment and ensure our mission statement reflects the core and essence of Gould, and then build a framework around the three pieces (mission, vision, and values) to guide us in our decision-making. 

    What’s next for the strategic plan?
    The strategic design team is working with Greenwich Leadership Partners (GLP) to strategically back into a draft of our strategic plans by first writing a vision statement. The words we choose will be very important and chosen for a strategic purpose. The vision statement will lead to the refinement of our values and mission, and then the team and GLP will work together to build a strategic framework around it. Expect to hear from the Stratgic design Team as we socialize our work and iterate based on your feedback. 

    What is expanding, and what will Gould be removing?
    Mr. Smith explained there are so many wonderful programs at Gould, and there are so many great things we do, so this process has to be thought about as an evolution, not a revolution. The purpose of the process is not to throw everything out and start anew, but to be thoughtful about the 75 or 85% of what we do today that's going to remain unchanged. What do we need to reduce or eliminate to make space amplify our signature programs and unique strengths? We have to take away 10, 15, or 20% of what we currently do, or modify it in a way that will create efficiencies.  We have to figure out how to focus on delivering an exceptional educational experience, supporting social-emotional learning, being present for the students, and creating strong relationships. These are the strengths of our school and pairing them to program experiences is essential.  Gould’s senior leadership team is also analyzing programming parallel to the strategic design team’s work.  One topic that has come from the analysis is whether we should use trimesters or semesters. It’s looking very likely we're going to change our structure from trimesters to semesters, or some version thereof. There are a couple of great reasons why this makes sense for Gould. First, with trimesters, there are six marking periods of the year that are time-intensive for teachers to write comments and deliver report cards. With semesters, six periods would be reduced to four. 

    Second, with trimesters, the biggest pain points of the year for our community are at the end of the fall trimester and the end of the winter trimester. At the end of the fall trimester, the days get darker, the first snowflakes fall, then Sunday River opens, and most of our students are involved in activities on snow in some shape or form. This excitement and distraction happens at the same time as our two-week fall trimester finals preparation and exams. It disrupts the natural flow of what students are trying to do, and this creates tension between coaches, teachers, and students, so we're working against our own self-interest. The same thing happens at the end of the winter trimester at the end of February. Teachers are working hard to calculate grades and write comments, while at the same time also heading out in the field for Gould’s signature Four Point program, which is also the same time of year that our main marquee winter athletics have their championship events. We are working against our own self-interest in these moments. 

    What does Gould hope to have accomplished by the end of the year?   
    Gould engaged with Greenwich Leadership Partners in early 2022 and initially, we were hopeful we would have our first draft of the plan by the end of December 2022. That timeline has been pushed out from December to maybe April, the strategic design team will continue to work through the winter and present something to the board at our spring meeting. There could be a final draft for the board to review at this point, if so, it would be a point of adoption, and then release and publication. 

    What is the overall timeline?
    The next step of the process is for the strategic design team to start writing and revising a draft of the vision statement and plan, which they will bring to our constituent groups for feedback and revisions. Reviewing drafts with constituents achieves two things: One is that it improves the language and clarifies the vision. The other thing it does is it starts to build alignment around the message because anyone who's been involved in the process will have already seen it in draft form. GLP is not doing the work for us, but they're keeping us on a timeline and guiding us with structure and logistics about how to form our committees, what to do next, and helping us understand the stages of the process.  
  • Welcoming Desirée Plata '99 to Commencement

    This year’s commencement ceremony speaker will be Desirée Plata ’99. She is passionate about protecting the quality of the air, water and soil, and educating the next generation of engineers, especially with regard to the influence of their designs on the natural world. She has recently been named to our Board of Trustees and also serves on our Strategic Design Committee. Learn more about her in this GAzette article published in 2020
  • How we got here: A letter from Phyllis Gardiner, Board President and Tao Smith, Head of School

    The Board of Trustees is tremendously grateful for the amazing job that teachers, coaches, administrators, housekeeping staff, the health center team, and maintenance and kitchen staff have done for nearly two years now to keep everyone safe and well. We also appreciate the confidence that Gould families have placed in our team by keeping their students in school with us. The health challenges continue, but it is now time to begin lifting our gaze from the daily tasks of coping with the pandemic and look to the future.
    Read More
  • Announcing the appointment of a Strategic Design Team

    Gould is proud to announce the appointment of a Strategic Design Team comprised of trustees, faculty and staff, parents, students, and alumni. Leading the team as co-chairs are: trustee Rick Foyston ’75, P’14, who also chairs the Board’s Futures Task Force, and faculty member and Director of Innovation at Gould, Sara Shifrin ’88, P’19, P’23, who has been practicing and training others in design thinking for many years. One of the team's first tasks will be working with GLP on a survey to solicit input from all sectors of the Gould community.
  • Planning session to discuss the upcoming survey and distribution methods

    Today GLP hosted a meeting with Gould leadership about the upcoming survey and distribution methods.  The survey will be completed by students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and families.
  • Coffee Chat - recording from 3/2 and upcoming schedule

    During the March Head of School Coffee Chat on Wednesday, Mr. Smith introduced Karen Burns, our new Director of Development, and also presented updates on things the school is currently working on. The recording of Wednesday's session will be available for 30 days

    The next Head of School chat will be hosted on April 6th. We usually host a Faculty Coffee Chat on the second Wednesday of the month but there won’t be one in March due to vacation.
  • Employee workshop with GLP

    All employees are invited to attend.  Teachers, administrative employees, and 12-month coaches are required to attend.  GLP will be providing prompts and exercises to gather information from Gould employees.
  • Strategic Planning is the Focus of Board Retreat

    The Gould Board of Trustees and Leadership Team met for a retreat focused on strategic planning.  Greenwich Leadership Partners hosted the online session. Agenda items included:
    Framing for the Meeting/Taking Stock - Our objectives/agenda
    Adaptive Boards and Strategy
    -Role of the Board in Strategy
    -Testing assumptions
    -The partnership work of the Board and Head
    Developing Vision: A Structured Dialogue with the Head of School
    Moving From Here to There: An Agenda for the Future

    Leading up to the session, participants were assigned the following readings:
Questions about the planning process may be directed to Sara Shifrin, who may answer or direct to other members of the Gould Strategic Design Team.

Sara Whalen Shifrin ’88, P’19,’23
Director of Innovation
Private High School for Boys and Girls | Grades 9-12, Postgraduate and Winter Term for Grades 7-8 | Boarding School in the Mountains of Maine

Gould Academy guides students to be creative, courageous and resilient and to lead lives of fulfillment and purpose.