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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.


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 These formal multi-year plans can easily become outdated as the context changes.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.


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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