At our board meeting last week, I invited Anne-Marie Kee, Executive Director of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS), to identify the top ten questions CAIS boards should be considering (see below). It was a very engaging meeting with Anne-Marie challenging our board to be strategic and always focused on the future.
Ten Strategic Questions CAIS Boards Should Consider:
- How can we contain future fee increases and expenses?
- How will we assess, cultivate and leverage our word of mouth perceived quality and value
intentionally and effectively?
- How can we deepen the engagement of, and increase the support from, our current and future top donor prospects? Domestically and internationally?
- What are the drivers of strength and permanence?
- How will we become more intentional about delivering our character related curriculum?
- Is our learning program meeting the individual needs of our students (and their parents)?
- How can we more effectively assess and report on student success beyond graduation?
- How will our students be more broadly involved in arts, athletics, service, leadership and character education programs?
- How will we enhance our responsiveness and engagement with our current community of students and parents? How will we KNOW and DELIVER on what our students and their parents want?
- How hungry, humble and nimble will we be?
As one might expect, the top three questions are focused on financial planning, admissions/marketing and fundraising. The question that I gravitated towards the most was #10: How hungry, humble and nimble will we be? This question struck home as it speaks to school improvement and change management. The two are very challenging topics that go hand-in-hand.
Our current strategic plan, Our Way / More Intentionally Lakefield speaks to how we wish to improve the program at LCS for our students in many ways.
“We will intentionally foster 21st-century learning skills and strategies, such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, risk-taking, reflection, imagination, initiative, and global mindedness.
“We will leverage the latest technology and expand our learning to reach across borders and around the globe. We will build ‘Programs of Distinction’ that will be recognized far and wide for their unparalleled student learning experiences.
“We will employ flexible schedules that take advantage of our 24/7 learning environment, allowing us to maximize the potential for individualized and collaborative learning.”
The challenge for school leaders is to facilitate and encourage improvement without impacting the positive culture of the school and expectations of staff. They are the most important aspects of our school that we hope to maintain and protect—our mission and values and how we are able to teach and learn through the positive relationships we create between staff and students.
As we make plans for the future, we look forward to our participation in CAIS’s upcoming 2051 Project, at the Summer Leadership Institute at St. Margaret’s. While LCS has doubled it’s summer entrepreneurial revenue in the past three years, ensuring that we have strength and permanence while seeking innovation for the future is also a top priority of our strategic plan.
The 2051 Project – The Future of Education Incubator
Designing strategy to meet the dual challenge of academic and
Our Vision: Exploring business and academic innovation to ensure independent schools’ strength and permanence.
Our Mission: Create an engaging experience for a diverse group of school leaders to gather best international practices and create a strategy to grapple with the dual challenge of designing innovating academic programs while also managing cost per student.
LCS will be sending our CFO, Tim Rutherford, to attend this workshop and join in the conversation. By collaborating with educators and business leaders from across Canada, we hope to identify how we will continue to be hungry, humble and nimble while implementing our strategic plan and ensuring LCS remains like no other.