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Meeting of the Minds: Vision 2026, Shipley’s Strategic Plan

Melissa Tassoni
About Our Panel
 
Lisa Schoenberg
Life Science Executive, Chair of Shipley’s Board of Trustees’ Strategic Planning Committee
Mother of Adam ’14 and Ally ’16, Schoenberg has been a member of Shipley’s Board since 2011.
 
Adam Spector ‘86
Managing Partner at Brandywine Global Investment Management, Former Chair of Shipley’s Board of Trustees 2011-2017
Father of Abbie ’13, Jordan ’14, and Evan ’16, Spector served on Shipley’s Board of Trustees for 18 years.
 
Brooksley Wylie
Chair of Shipley’s Board of Trustees
Mother of Cameron ’14 and Austin ’17, Wylie has served on Shipley’s Board of Trustees since 2010.

Q: Describe the essence of Shipley’s Strategic Plan in a few sentences.
 
Wylie: The Strategic Plan is a roadmap for achieving the School’s mission, directed at every student and every family. It’s an extremely student-focused and education-focused plan. It isn’t a broad departure from what we’ve done in the past; rather, it is a re-commitment to what we do best, and offers a way to move that forward.
Spector ’86: The plan shines a spotlight on what is most important at Shipley. Educational excellence, the community, and ensuring that we have the resources for the School to continue its mission in perpetuity.
Schoenberg: The plan is all about ensuring that our students are prepared to excel in an increasingly complex and global world. As a living document, and grounded in our core tenets, the plan calls for an ambitious program that must evolve as the environment and our students’ needs dictate. The other two pillars of the plan—ensuring a strong, engaged community and fiscal responsibility—support our ability to fully maximize and implement our plan.
 
Q: In what ways is Shipley’s plan for the future consistent with its past?
 
Spector ’86: Educational excellence is at the heart of the plan and has been of paramount importance at Shipley for over 100 years. The plan also focuses on students—the success of students, how to challenge students, and how to support them.
Wylie: It also continues Shipley’s tradition of being willing to be at the forefront of educational thinking.
 
Q: What were the highlights of the Board’s strategic planning process?
 
Wylie: The comprehensive nature of the process and our commitment to receiving input from all constituents. Our focus at all points in time has been on the children whom we educate and their families, and to best do that, we sought input from every part of the School community.
Spector ’86: I would say one of the things that really stood out was both the range of focus groups that we did, as well as the visioning conference that really brought together constituents from all segments of the School, not only to think about the future, but also to actively debate what it should look like.
Wylie: It was a very collaborative process, and it was interesting to see that through significant discussion, there was broad consensus about the direction, basic goals, strategies, and emphasis of the plan.
Schoenberg: All of the above, plus the collaboration between the Board and Central Administrative Team as demonstrated by the Strategic Planning Committee, made up of members from each. I had the privilege of leading this team and am proud of the productive, open, honest, and sometimes difficult conversations we had to get to our end product.
 
Q: Based on your professional and prior experience, what stands out about Shipley’s Strategic Plan?
 
Spector ’86: While some strategic plans are more of a to-do list and building plan, this is a paradigm shift from the traditional strategic plan. This plan is a roadmap of how to look at ourselves, how to be introspective, and how to continue to drive the School forward. This is more of a thinking exercise as opposed to a building exercise.
Wylie: With this plan, we’re asking ourselves to challenge our thinking in every place and every step along the way to get the best result possible.
Spector ’86: Just like the School asks its students to continually challenge themselves and grow, this plan asks the whole community, including the Board, to challenge itself to continue to grow, to advance, to adapt technologically. I think that the plan is really evergreen, and as a strategic plan, it can take us more than a decade into the future and will challenge future boards and future administrations to continue to ask hard questions. That process of self-reflection is really the most important thing that’s embedded in this plan.
Schoenberg: A good strategic plan clearly articulates a goal and outlines how to achieve it by setting objectives. This plan does just that, but this is truly a long-term plan; it won’t be finished or accomplished in just a couple of years. Rather, by establishing short-, medium-, and long-term actions, we will begin to see progress toward achieving our overall goals. Past strategic plans that I have been involved in have been more annual plans. This one will live for much longer.
 
Q: How do you think this plan uniquely positions Shipley for the future?
 
Spector ’86: The plan puts institutional and support pieces in place that will allow students to achieve their ultimate success both in the classroom and in life.
Schoenberg: Within the goal for Educational Excellence, becoming a leader in social, emotional, and ethical development through Positive Education is a core objective. We are doing more than just saying we want to support the emotional and social well-being of our students—we are actually strengthening our commitment to this and providing training throughout the School to ensure that success in life isn’t just based on academic success, but rather on the combination of academic success and emotional well-being.
 
Q: What are the first, most important things that people will see coming out of this plan?
 
Schoenberg: We will see the expansion of our interdisciplinary programming throughout the School; we will see enhanced Positive Education; we will see increased support for professional development for teachers; and we will see more integrated community events, among other things.
Wylie: One really big impact of the plan has been the breakdown of silos within the School’s thinking process. The plan demands that everyone, every department, every division communicate not just effectively, but really constructively, productively, and generatively with each other, which is to the benefit of everyone in the School.
Spector ’86: I think that’s right, and something like the Interdisciplinary Task Force is a very obvious manifestation of that, but it gets into everything from cooperative use of facilities to coordinated scheduling and curriculum integration and a lot of things that aren’t as obvious on the surface. There’s now kind of a long-term strategic roadmap for where the School’s administration is going to focus its time, attention, and innovative efforts, and that will guide development over a period of many years.
 
Q: What role do and will members of the community play in the execution of this plan?
 
Wylie: I think it gets back to the idea of breaking down silos. I think every colleague and every student will be a part of the implementation and execution of the plan, but the goal and the hope is that other constituencies are also involved—parents in particular, but also alumni and the broader community.
 
Q: The plan is called Vision 2026. What will Shipley look like once this plan has come to fruition?
 
Schoenberg: I love to think about the possibility of “re-envisioning how we learn, where we learn, and whom we learn from,” one of our Educational Excellence objectives, playing a more integral part in our education. Imagine the benefits of adding a more integrative global experience to our curriculum, where through technology and travel, our students can learn from others, teach others, and gain an appreciation and understanding of the complex world we live in. This will complement our rigorous academic experience while opening our students’ eyes to the world we live in and the opportunities that exist to make a difference, near or far.
Spector ’86: The School will be functioning in a more interdisciplinary way, with more integrated technology, more innovative programing, blended learning, and a more rapidly developing curriculum.
Wylie: I think that we are doing a lot of these things already, but the plan challenges us to constantly ask questions about how to do them best. There isn’t a predetermined result other than to always strive for the highest and best application of those ideals. This plan is intended to be demanding but flexible, and allows us to respond proactively at all points in time to the evolving needs that we’ll see.
Spector ’86: Shipley will be a world-class Pre-K through 12 school where students face one of the most rigorous academic experiences offered with a tremendous amount of support in the midst of a caring community and have strong institutional support.
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.