As positive trends emerge in the economy, the Imagine Deerfield strategic plan is back in action with the recent publication and distribution of the first set of implementation plans.
Imagine Deerfield began with the appointment of Head of School Margarita Curtis. “It was a good moment to take stock and get organized,” said history teacher Thomas Heise, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. In 2009, when the board of trustees read over the finalized plans, they were unanimously approved.
“It’s an attempt to sustain excellence, whether in the classroom getting a liberal arts education, at a sit-down meal building character, or partaking in the DAPP program and developing an ethic of service,” said Dr. Curtis. “We are examining the core traditions of Deerfield, affirming the best of our past, while preparing for the exigencies of the new century.”
“The world is changing rapidly, and in order to remain true to our mission, we must consider the definition of citizenship in the 21st century. We want to ensure that our graduates are morally grounded, globally literate, technologically adept, and environmentally responsible,” Dr. Curtis continued.
A major advancement already in effect is a boost in financial aid. In the fiscal year 2012, $300,000 was added to the financial aid budget.
Another major initiative underway is the expansion of the faculty. “The more faculty members we have, the more time we can allocate for their own learning and renewal,” said Dr. Curtis, “ensuring that they remain vibrant in the classroom, on the playing field, in the studio, or in a dorm throughout their careers.”
There are also tentative plans to build another dorm and to expand global faculty intiatives by sending members to overseas enrichment programs.
Some, however, feel that a strategic plan brings the school too close to the corporate world that is so different from the world of education.
“People view systematic planning and focus on outcomes as corporate,” responded Dr. Curtis, “but I don’t see the dichotomy. You can be a warm nurturing community while ensuring the delivery of a top-quality experience.” In fact, according to Mr. Heise, Deerfield is one of the last of the major prep schools to implement such a plan.
“A way to think of it is to compare it to a classroom,” Dr. Curtis continued. “The teacher creates a syllabus and course structure. Goals are defined and students are expected to achieve them. The teacher puts into place a sequence of activities and assignments that will get them there.”
“In running a school, as in running a classroom, we have put forth a roadmap for our future in order to achieve our goals,” she said. “And because it’s a school, it’s ultimately all about the students.”