As we approach the halfway mark in the life of the 2015-2022 Long Range Plan, the Long Range Planning Committee is pleased to report on the work and achievements accomplished during the past academic year in addressing the actions mandated in each of the four distinct areas of the Plan. A notable highlight for the year was the Town Hall meeting held on January 29, when members of the Board met with the School community for a comprehensive update on progress under the Plan in the following areas: physical plant expansion; security audit and plans; community, diversity and anti-racism; curriculum changes; and School finances, including budget, tuition, fund-raising, financial aid, and faculty compensation.
The Program goal of the Plan showed movement in many directions. Of particular note, the Committee detailed examples of ways in which the School develops competence and confidence in students, coupled with excellence in thought and action, through a variety of curricular elements and School-wide traditions that encourage an examination of ethics and goodness in contemporary life. For example, this year the English curriculum included two weeks on media literacy, asking students to ponder “What is fake news? How do you distinguish it?” Discussion included examining the First Amendment in the context of examining one’s own biases. In the HS journalism class, students look at the website “allsides” and are asked to determine how to write a wire story without bias, using facts only - an ethical as well as compositional exercise. The pursuit of “excellence” throughout the academic program frequently accompanies examination of “goodness,” and what hinders it. Examples were compiled of how the content and quality of service learning in all divisions is reviewed to ensure that students learn community action skills and reflect upon the School’s mission statement and who we are as a Grace community. Extracurricular and after school programs, as well as the School’s commitment to multi-sensory teaching and learning also were favorably reviewed in light of the Plan’s proposed actions for these initiatives.
The Diversity Structures Task Force led the effort under the second Goal of the Plan. The Task Force outlined major recommendations to the Board for steps to achieve the Plan’s objectives to broaden and deepen all aspects of diversity and anti-racism at Grace; increase community awareness of programming and provide adequate staffing for these efforts; and promote efforts to ensure that all students and families feel welcome and are able to fully participate in the life of the School. A highlight was the creation of a new position of Dean of Equity and Inclusion, which has been filled and will fully operational beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year. In addition, the Diversity Mission Statement for the school was rewritten to reflect the current breadth and scope of our commitment to this work.
The Committee’s effort to track the progress of the Vertical Integration goal of the Plan focused on the following specific activities designed to integrate the four divisions of the School: the Great Thanksgiving Listen Project; school-wide events commemorating MLK Day; the National School Walkout organized by students to end gun violence; Grace Spirit Day; cross-divisional faculty and department meetings and events; initiation of a high school transition meeting to replace the former open house; restructuring of the Parents Association to create co-president positions for the High School division in addition to the co-presidents already in place at the JK-8 campus; and science and athletic department reviews. The Committee noted that the administration and faculty have been thoughtful about identifying the best ways to bring divisions together and in some cases reversing initiatives after determining that there was little to be gained.
The Board’s Finance, Development and Capital Campaign committees continue to adhere to rigorous schedules regarding the Financial Sustainability Goal of the Plan.
Our Commitment to Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism
Grace Church School seeks to provide its students with an outstanding education and with the desire to use it to make the world a better place. Every facet of our work is enhanced by the diversity and strength of our community. We believe that equity and inclusion are not only hallmarks of a just society, but also virtues essential to sound learning. And so, Grace seeks to recognize and honor the unique gifts of its students, families, faculty, and staff—and the cultures, beliefs, values, and experiences that have shaped them—striving always to cultivate mutual understanding, humility, respect, and kindness.
But inclusion is not enough and equity is an impossibility if we cannot name, acknowledge, and oppose the forces of racism and all forms of bias, hate, and fear that exist in our society and that seek to diminish so many in our midst. Knowing this, we commit ourselves to the work of anti-racism and to the cause of justice: that all students may find in Grace a home, may learn from Grace their precious worth, and may hear from Grace a call to serve the common good and the dignity of humanity. (Adopted 2018)