December 2015

Dear TPS Community,

This time of year is often one of both reflection and anticipation. We look back on the events of the year and look ahead to the possibilities that lie before us. We dream of what the future holds. This framing seems perfect, then, for sharing exciting news about the future of The Philadelphia School.

In 2008, our Board of Trustees introduced The Enduring Vision: City, Country, Classroom, a strategic plan crafted by our school community to guide our progress and direction through 2013. Having reviewed the plan, we think you will agree that we continue to realize many of the goals today. We can be proud of how this roadmap shaped our collective efforts, allowing TPS to grow and thrive.

Seven years later, our school faces a changing landscape that presents exciting opportunities alongside new challenges. Thus, we look ahead to a new period of creative planning – one that will seek to embrace this moment, to honor our history, and to frame our future.

Strategic Thinking should be flexible, nimble and engaging.

Two years ago, while still working with the framework of The Enduring Vision, the Board of Trustees in partnership with school administration decided to think differently about how we plan.  We felt strongly that rather than create a plan to complete goals in three to five years, we would focus on a reflective process of "Strategic Thinking" that allowed us to open our timeline and our thinking. We wanted to expand our focus beyond the walls of TPS and give ourselves a more flexible process to allow for bold and innovative possibilities.

At the forefront of the process would be asking questions, promoting curiosity, and engaging as many of our constituent groups as possible.

The process is the most important part of the plan.

Members of our Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and staff came together for a series of discussions throughout the 2014-15 school year, culminating in a weekend retreat designed to consider guiding principles for the work ahead. Three themes emerged as we reflected on our shared future – our drive to achieve excellence as a leader of progressive education, our desire to cultivate partnerships and realize our civic responsibility, and our need for financial sustainability with a focus on equity and access.

After contemplating how to best move this work forward in a more inclusive, cohesive manner, we agreed to bring in a facilitator. The board and administrative leadership team interviewed several consultants and agreed that Andy Mozenter, Concentrics would be the best match for TPS. Andy will move the process forward in an organized and intentional way, gather information with and for us, and, most importantly, provide the organizational support that will allow us to think boldly and clearly articulate our progress.

Two groups will work hand in hand with Andy: the Strategic Planning Committee and the Steering Committee. The Strategic Planning Committee is a small group made up of the administrative leadership team and the Board Executive Committee; members are Justine Hoffman, Matt Eskin, Frances Hoover, Carol Lerner, Carlye Nelson-Major, Jen Rice, Melody Damis, Derek Jokelson, Erica Salvi, and Ken Young.  This team is tasked with the overall governance of the visioning process. The Steering Committee will be a larger group representing a microcosm of our community – current parents/guardians, students, faculty and staff, alumni, and trustees. This team will be charged with survey design, data analysis, and engagement of their constituent groups.

The success of this process depends on the enthusiasm, insight, and commitment
of the community.

After winter break, you will receive specifics regarding the timeline, process, and opportunities for you to get involved, including focus groups, interviews, open forums, and more. While we recognize that no one person can do everything, we hope that every person will share their voice.

Beginning next month, you will find message boards in both buildings with pointed questions designed to get your creativity flowing. Please take a moment to share your thoughts as you pass through. Can't wait to get started? Visit the Framing the Future page on our website and tell us what you envision for the future of TPS. Be certain to bookmark the page and check back often for updated information on our progress.

We will continue to share details as they unfold, but of course feel free to contact us directly at framingthefuture@tpschool.org if you have any questions.


Looking forward,

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Jennifer Rice
Chair, Board of Trustees      

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Justine Hoffman
Head of School