St. Mary School Advisory Board
STRATEGIC PLANNING UPDATE
Prior to the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the Advisory Board began work to implement a strategic planning process. As previously shared, strategic planning is the process of looking at all aspects of our school and planning how to move the school forward. It provides the ‘big picture’ of where we are, where we are going and how we are going to get there. The point of a strategic plan is to improve our school by outlining the future direction, identifying issues impacting our school and deciding on the priorities for action. In January 2014, a community meeting was held to engage our stakeholders in the strategic planning process. Through a review of data, committees were developed and board, school staff and community members began work in five areas:
To date, each committee has moved forward with the following initiatives:
Identified three key areas of focus:
- Communication of monetary support for key audiences
- Determine what is already communicated and enhance those opportunities
- Posted Scholarship Opportunities to the St. Mary Web Site
- Posted hard copy of scholarship opportunities in front hall of school
- Included list of scholarships in periodic church bulletin
- Posted link to the St. Mary web site for the FACTS reporting tool
Next Steps: Continue to look for opportunities to educate on these tuition assistance opportunities.
- Develop a St. Mary Parish Communication Plan to educate our key audiences as to the financial support that is available as well as how our community can support the financial needs of our families.
- Expand parish communication of “what my Catholic education means to me” to a semesterly event
Next Steps: Coordinate with Fisher Catholic on better education around the need and use of the FACTS tool. Work to develop a training, education and help program for the tool.
A key need at this time is the development of an Athletic Association to support the school administration and athletic directors. The committee has reviewed by-laws of similar associations. A group of initial association members have been invited to serve for a term of one year to establish the association. This group will serve in an advisory capacity, similar to the school advisory board. An initial meeting of the Association will be held in May.
This group has had many accomplishments, with the goal of creating and strengthening relationships among school families, between the school and the parish, the school and the community, and connecting to our alumni.
- New Family Orientation- This group developed and held an orientation for all new school age families, which was held in June 2014 to welcome and acclimate families to our school, as well as answer their questions and provide them with needed resources. This is now an annual event held each June.
- Kindergarten screening parent outreach- During kindergarten screenings, members of the committee met with incoming kindergarten parents to provide information about the school and answer any questions. This will be an annual event.
- Summer Kindergarten Playdate & Popsicles- In order to help families and children get acquainted, a playdate was held at the park prior to the beginning of school. This summer, more dates will be scheduled.
- Family Buddies- New families were offered the opportunity to have a buddy family.
- Open House Fingerprinting- To help make fingerprinting more convenient, this was provided at the back to school open house.
- Alumni Data Base- Efforts are underway to gather alumni information in order to have an alumni database and begin an alumni newsletter
- Family Rosary Night- Committee members organized October and December rosary nights in the Spirit Center which included saying the rosary, fellowship, snacks, kids movies, and Advent crafts at the December event. These were well attended and enjoyed by all. Another event will be held in May.
Recruitment & Retention
In addition to continued outreach efforts by the board specific to St. Mary School (yearly school open house, letters sent from the board to parish families when children are baptized) and school staff and students (open house and school invitations to families of deanery parishes, follow up letters inviting students to visit, arranged middle school and prospective student visit days), this committee has organized an enrollment committee composed of stakeholders from all of our deanery schools (St. Mary, St. Bernadette, St. John and Fisher Catholic High School) to work on common marketing initiatives. This group has met numerous times during the current school year and is working on several initiatives. This has been a very positive experience as we share a common goal of increasing enrollment across all of our schools by educating our community about the benefits of Catholic education and inviting and welcoming families to consider Catholic education.
This is an internal committee of school faculty who are focusing on educational initiatives. In addition to completing the accreditation process through the Diocese and conducting an in-depth review of student data, this group has made it a goal for our school to achieve distinction as a National Blue Ribbon School by improving student achievement. A focus on close reading strategies across the curriculum resulted in improved Terra Nova test scores, bringing the school closer to achieving this goal.
The strategic planning process is a continual process of improvement, evaluation and readjustment of goals and initiatives dependent upon our needs. We will never be done, but rather, constantly working for excellence. In the words of Dr. Kevin Baxter, Catholic school author and educator, “We are not meant to sit still; we are meant to grow and develop and improve on the gifts that were bestowed upon us by God. We do not settle for where we are; we look to grow what we have in order to be good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us by God.”
In addition to this update, you can visit our school website Advisory board page for monthly updates of our strategic planning initiatives in our board meeting minutes. Parent/guardians of our students as well as community members who are interested in joining our strategic planning efforts are welcome to contact any board member or the school for more information.