STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

The Wellan Board of Trustees has adopted the Strategic Priorities planning model as an alternative to writing a traditional multi-year Strategic Plan. This decision was influenced by a recommendation to all independent schools by Pat Basset, the former head of the National Association of Independent Schools.

Rationale

The traditional strategic planning process typically involves periodically investing lots of time and energy in making decisions about future timelines, action steps, and resource allocations. These formal multi-year plans can easily become outdated as the context changes. Basset argued that school leaders and trustees are better positioned to help their schools thrive using a more flexible process in which goal-setting and decision-making are focused on priorities and vision—both annually and on an ad hoc basis whenever the school is faced with a particular threat or opportunity.

Process

In the Strategic Priorities planning model, school leaders and trustees identify specific projects to work on that are tied to enduring priorities (which might vary due to each school’s mission or history) and to an institutional vision statement. These priority projects may be attainable in a single year (e.g., a capital improvement project) or over several years (e.g., curriculum review and development). 

Maintaining a list of potential priority projects allows the school to annually select as goals those that are most urgent, those that are most do-able in the current context, and/or those that lay the foundation for or tie off a multi-year project. As the context changes, it is likely some projects will drop off the list as no longer aligned with priorities. Similarly, new ones will be added as perceived threats or opportunities arise.

The Strategic Priorities and Vision Statement come into play annually during the process of establishing strategic outcome goals for the Head of School for the upcoming school year, as well as goals for the Board itself. Aspects of strategic planning that would normally show up in a multi-year plan, such as a timeline and the allocation of resources to support the priority-based projects embedded in goals, can be thus addressed within the current context of that particular year’s operational challenges and finances. The Head of School uses the Strategic Priorities and Vision Statement to establish operational outcome goals and assigns related projects or tasks to administrative direct reports.  

The Strategic Priorities and Vision Statement also come into play when the Head of School and/or Board are making decisions about major initiatives. Essential questions that are asked before investing time, talent, and money include: Is this aligned with one or more of our Strategic Priorities? Will this bring us closer to our Vision for the school?

Wellan Vision Statement

The Wellan Board and leadership team (then Newton Montessori School) generated this vision for the school’s future state:

 

 

Founded in 2006, Wellan Montessori School (formerly Newton Montessori School) is currently thriving and actively planning for the future. Strategic priorities for the next few years aim to strengthen the school‘s reputation as:

A premier Boston-area independent school offering educational excellence.

 

A diverse, inclusive school community of engaged families.

 

A well-run school that is innovative and responsive to changing student and family needs.

 

An inspiring, rewarding place to work.

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Select the drop down arrows to learn more about the completed and on-going initiatives of each priority.

EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE


Maximize the academic learning and personal growth of all students, from toddlers to young teens. Examples of completed initiatives:

  • Develop and launch the Voyager educational program for grades 7-8; conduct an outside evaluation of the first 2-year curricular cycle to identify weaknesses and strengths
  • Develop and launch Wellan Wired for remote instruction in Spring 2020
  • Develop Wellan Wired 2.0 to be prepared for possible school closure in 2020-2021; also develop and implement small Remote Learning Cohorts for students unable to attend in-person classes
Examples of on-going initiatives:
  • Develop curricula for Health, Safety, Wellness; train teachers to deliver it; pilot; launch full implementation; conduct evaluation and adjust as needed
  • Develop curricula for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism; train teachers to deliver it; pilot; launch full implementation; conduct evaluation and adjust as needed
  • Develop and launch an optional program for students interested in learning to play a musical instrument




TALENT MANAGEMENT


Attract, retain, and support the professional development of high-quality teachers and administrators. Examples of completed initiatives:

  • Review compensation model and establish salary bands
  • Hire School Nurse and School Counselor
  • Develop, with monies donated by alumni family, a Travel Research Grant program for faculty professional development
Examples of on-going initiatives:
  • Review and update maternity and family leave policies
  • Research best staffing model to advance school-wide DEI-Anti-Racism efforts
  • Develop and launch The Wellan Institute, a Montessori education program for adults that will authorize Wellan to certify its own teachers, provide new professional development teaching opportunities for current faculty, and serve as a DEI initiative to attract diverse candidates to Montessori teaching as a profession




SCHOOL IDENTITY


Strengthen the school’s identity, brand recognition, and family engagement. Examples of completed initiatives:

  • Conduct viability of re-naming school to have greater branding impact; implement change and roll-out new marketing campaigns
  • Build Wellan’s reputation for expertise by developing outreach programs to educate parents, grandparents, nannies, and daycare professionals about Montessori philosophy and practices; launch annual live Heart and Hand Early Childhood Conferences; launch online Montessori Is For Everyone workshop series
Examples of on-going initiatives:
  • Increase participation in the Wellan Annual Fund among enrolled families, alumni families, grandparents, and others
  • Develop and implement strategies to strengthen school-family and family-family ties after the reduced contact required by COVID-19 protocols




MANAGED ENROLLMENT


Build and maintain stable enrollment of students from diverse families who deeply value what the school offers. Examples of completed initiatives:

  • Increase retention from PY3> LE to reach the point that the School has 3 LE classrooms (Wellan now has 4)
  • Open Voyager with a first class of 5 or more (actual=8)
  • Increase participation of Elementary students in after-school and summer program
Examples of on-going initiatives:
  • Develop multi-year plan for managed growth/admission selectivity
  • Develop robust high school placement program for Wellan graduates




FINANCIAL & OPERATIONAL HEALTH & SUSTAINABILITY


Maintain the health and sustainability of the school’s infrastructure. Examples of completed initiatives:

  • Enhance efficiency by moving the annual school registration process and payments online
  • Train Division Leaders and teachers to monitor classroom-based and department-level budgets, allowing for greater flexibility while maintaining centralized budget controls
  • Renovate the lower level of the school to create an Arts Wing
  • Renovate a floor of the Sacred Heart Convent to allow for expanded enrollment
Examples of on-going initiatives:
  • Continue working with Sacred Heart to address ADA issues so Wellan can renovate and rent additional square feet in the convent when needed
  • Research the viability of purchasing property for school use and/or starting an endowment