Thank you for attending Vision Night!
I wanted to follow up on Vision Night to thank all of you who attended, and contributed to the evening. Special thanks to the trustees and administrative team members who helped to facilitate the conversations. It was really remarkable to gather in a room with alumni, alumni parents, current parents, new parents, trustees and staff to collaborate around creating a shared vision of how we can build on our past and strengthen our future.
The evening kicked off with Appreciative Inquiry, which resulted in a very powerful experience of sharing compelling stories of times when being part of the Corlears community was transformational. These small group conversations revealed clear common themes of the importance of our teachers, the power of our educational program and community to help our children develop into confident and flexible problem solvers who want to make a difference in their communities. There was story after story about how student voices grew over time here at Corlears and how their teachers and other community members taught them that they can use that voice to have an impact.
We also shared some of the feedback that we have been processing from the surveys and other streams of communication. We highlighted the Net Promoter Survey (NPS) conducted last spring, which is going to be annual tool that we use. An NPS survey provides a score that tells you how you are doing in meeting the needs and desires of your community. It also provides feedback that can be organized into strengths and challenges to focus on.
Our score was a 63, which is quite strong according to the educational consultant who conducted the survey for us (noting that anything above a 50 is very positive). Not surprisingly, our most frequently listed strength is our teachers, and the fact that students here are thriving and growing here was a close second. Additionally, the curriculum was a frequently mentioned strength.
Amongst the challenges were some points that we actually would like to propose as strengths, such as the fact that the school ends at 5th grade/moving on to middle school, as well as mixed age classrooms. Both of these items are really very central to why we exist and reinforced by the commitment reflected in our mission statement of the importance of designing a school that creates a foundation for students during the critical ages 2 through 10. We believe that with this foundation in place, students can do anything. The end results are our terrific graduates who are headed off to a broad variety of their top choice schools, and emerging as leaders who want to impact the world around them.
Two challenges emerged from the NPS that we are addressing head on. First, concern over smaller class sizes in the upper grades. We have added admissions tools and connections to make sure that we can meet a goal of 12-16 students in each of our graduating classes moving forward. We do have one small class at the moment (our rising 9s), but it will actually be growing from 6 to 8 students next year. This year’s graduating class is 16 and next year is 15. This is a trend we anticipate continuing.
The second concern identified in the NPS was cost, which is a concern across independent schools. Even though we are not high priced, but in fact a little on the lower side of our market, we do understand that families do make value judgements and want to see the value behind the tuition cost. So, we see our efforts as two fold here. First, to control costs while also finding additional revenue sources. Second, to do a better job of communicating the value of a Corlears education. This something that we will focus on in the coming year.
Finally, I shared with everyone that the board of trustees and administrative team have been hard at work in developing both long and short term strategic plans. Our most immediate focus is on strengthening our position moving forward by elevating the school’s profile as a leader and important member of the community. Strength and visibility in the community will enhance our ability to keep growing and sustain the important value of graduating high achieving, thoughtful and compassionate leaders.
We’ve settled on three main priorities to distinguish and raise our profile in this way:
- Investment in our faculty and staff
- Engagement of our community
- Creating financial flexibility through enrollment and fundraising
These actions are already underway to support these priorities:
- Focus on and investment in early years mathematics education
- Extensive professional development in early years social justice education
- Community partnership conversations that have begun with our neighboring corporate organizations, the Meatpacking BID, other nonprofit organizations who are working to support social justice
- Creation of the Auxiliary Program and Community Outreach Position
- A branding campaign effort that will make us more visible in digital media
Over the next few months, I will continue to share some of our thinking around these priorities and the work that is underway to make sure we achieve our goals.
Thank you for your partnership and support. I look forward to our continuing work together.