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Strategic Planning

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.
Dear members of the Gould community,
 
Spring has arrived, and despite the continuing cloud of COVID-19 there is hope and optimism in the air! Students are back on campus after Four Point trips and March break, there is still a bit of snow on the slopes and trails to enjoy, and classes, sports, arts, and other activities are going strong.
 
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.
 
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, the pace of change had already been accelerating on many dimensions, as Thomas Friedman eloquently outlined in his book, Thank You for Being Late (a fascinating read). When the pandemic hit, our patterns of life, work, relationships, and interactions with friends, family, co-workers, and strangers were dramatically disrupted—even for those of us lucky enough to escape painful personal losses. At the same time, a wave of police shootings forced us to see in vivid and horrifying detail the injustices that people of color in our society continue to experience with alarming frequency. 
 
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.
 
Last year, the Board of Trustees established a Futures Task Force to “identify and analyze implications of the changing educational environment related to technology, competitive alternatives, market demand [and] demographics;” to “gather and distill information and perspectives, [and] analyze and identify a menu of strategic alternatives for the Board and related constituencies to consider in defining the future of the school and its community.” 
The Task Force met regularly last winter and spring, exploring trends and possibilities, asking provocative questions about changing educational models, and imagining what strategic changes should be made so the Gould of the future both builds on the school’s history and traditions and responds to a rapidly changing environment. Their work has broadened and enriched our perspectives on the future.
 
We recognize that planning for the future also must incorporate Gould’s commitment to forging a community aligned with principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. The DEI Task Force formed over a year ago began delving deeply into these issues and gained some good traction. This important work is continuing this year with the added leadership of Stephanie Montgomery, our new Director of Inclusion, Equity and Belonging.
 
The work of these two task forces is ongoing and will help fuel the next phase of inquiry.
 
It is now time for us to take a fresh look at the school’s mission statement, to express anew the values that should guide our decision-making, and to articulate a clear vision for Gould’s future with a strategy for long term success. We want to engage the whole community in this effort, to gain the benefit of diverse perspectives and to build broad alignment going forward. To help ensure that we do this work thoroughly and well, the Board 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.
 
Today, we are announcing the appointment of a Strategic Design Team composed 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. The team will begin meeting in February, and one of their first tasks will be working with GLP on a survey to solicit input from all sectors of the Gould community. You should receive the survey in your inboxes sometime in March. GLP will compile and analyze the survey results later in the spring. 
  
In shaping the future of Gould, we want to build on Gould’s strengths and develop our full potential as a school—just as we strive to do for our students. All of you are an important part of this process, and we welcome your participation.
 
Thank you so much for growing and learning with us as part of the Gould community and for embracing positive change for a better future.
 
Please stay safe and protect your health.
 
With best wishes for a bright future,
 
 
Phyllis Gardiner, Board President
Tao Smith '90, Head of School
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Gould is a small, co-ed, independent boarding school for grades 8-PG.  We are passionate about preparing academically motivated students for college, helping them to become independent-minded, ethical citizens who will lead lives of purpose, action, excellence, and compassion in a dynamic world.