Long-Range Planning

Grace Church School's fifth Long Range Plan provides a roadmap for shaping the future of the School within four distinct areas: programmatic and academic excellence; Episcopal identity as the foundation for an intentionally diverse community; greater integration of the four divisions of the School; and financial security and sustainability. The Plan embodies a commitment to the traditions and ideals that have served the School well for over a century, while also embracing innovations in curriculum content and design demanded by the complex and interconnected world in which we live.

Progress Reports

List of 5 items.


    The Long Range Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in May 2015 serves as roadmap for the school through 2022. Each year trustees, administrators, faculty and parents will address actions mandated in the distinct areas of the plan and will report on what has been accomplished.
    This year, in the programmatic area, the school adopted a new advisory system for the Middle School coupled with daily tutorials. A revamped classroom schedule was put into place at 86 Fourth Avenue, a schedule that will receive additional review going forward to ensure appropriate flexibility across all divisions. The Cross Grade Connection (CGC) program was strengthened, bringing together cross-grade groups of students to include affinity groups with spaces for LGBT and gender-neutral students. A new honor code and discipline system for the High School reflects that division’s allegiance to ethics and kindness as a member of the GCS community.
    The school completed the National Association of Episcopal Schools Identity and Culture Self-Study.  More work will take place in the upcoming year to create a concise and easily understood statement about religious diversity in an Episcopal school that includes children of all faiths or no faith.  A new Diversity Structures Task Force has formed to coordinate diversity and anti-racism efforts throughout the School in a more systematic way.
    Work to promote greater integration of the four divisions of the School has included instituting cross-divisional meetings among faculty to discuss curriculum, teaching, and developmental expectations. Attention has been paid to improving communications vehicles for parents at all levels JK through 12.  There has been progress in efforts to unify the visual identity and branding of the School through the adoption of a redesigned School crest.
    The Finance, Development and Capital Campaign committees continue to adhere to rigorous schedules regarding financial security and sustainability.

    The Long Range Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in May 2015 serves as roadmap for the school through 2022. Each year trustees, administrators, faculty and parents will address actions mandated in the distinct areas of the Plan and will report on what has been accomplished. This is the Year Two report.
    A drafting group addressed the charge in the Plan to create a concise and easily understood statement about the School’s Episcopal identity and how it is the foundation for religious diversity in a school that includes children of all faiths or no faith at all.  A draft statement of Episcopal identity at Grace Church School was developed in a year-long, iterative process of review, feedback and revision that drew upon School administrators, faculty, parents and trustees.  The statement includes a brief statement that will inform the “elevator speech” called for in the Long Range Plan, as well as additional details on four key elements of the School’s Episcopal identity: equity, inclusion and social justice; service learning; chapel; and the study of religion and ethics.  The Board of Trustees adopted the draft statement in May 2017, and it is now posted on the School’s website at gcschool.org/episcopal-identity. 
    The Diversity Structures Task Force, created at the close of last year in response to the Plan’s directive to continue to broaden and deepen all aspects of diversity in community and programs, focused on assessing existing School structures with responsibility for fostering diversity. The Task Force will next examine comparable structures at peer institutions.
    As part of promoting greater integration of the four divisions of the School, the Branding Committee continued its work on unifying the visual identity and branding of the School in ways that characterize the School’s mission and best present its visual identity.  New graphic images, based on design elements found in the new School crest and featuring the word Grace, were adopted as symbols for the School to be standardized according to use. The Communications Office will take the new brand concept and roll it into all school publications, websites and items that bear Grace symbols and graphics over the summer and into the fall.
    In the programmatic area, progress was reviewed in the areas of enhancing cross-disciplinary teaching and learning; use and expansion of curricula that integrate and strengthen the sciences, math, art, design thinking and technology; and curricular overview of language instruction and student placement, highlighting the ease of communication that has resulted from frequent meetings between language instructors from both campuses.  
    The Finance, Development and Capital Campaign committees continue to adhere to rigorous schedules regarding financial security and sustainability.

    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)

    The Long Range Planning Committee continued to monitor the achievements accomplished during the fourth year of the 2015-2022 Long Range Plan. The Committee is pleased to report that task forces created in response to the Plan made significant progress in the areas of diversity and inclusion and in assembling relevant metrics to measure the School’s attainment of excellence in data driven areas of concern.
    The Program goal of the Plan continued to receive thoughtful attention. The goal of developing curricula that integrate and strengthen the sciences, math, art, design thinking and technology is being implemented following a comprehensive evaluation of technology conducted over two years from 2016-2018. Because technology is embedded in every subject, the School’s pedagogy was reviewed in the context of inquiry-based learning, with the outcome that Grace will fold design thinking into the design learning approach of enlightened trial and error. A faculty group now meets regularly to share curricular projects across disciplines, and technology integrators will be available to co-teach or provide support in the lower and middle school divisions. The challenges and benefits of the School’s physical education and competitive athletics programs received a fresh look in light of the dramatic effect School-wide of the opening of the new gym at 46 Cooper Square. Program and space growth are enhancing the School’s ability to attract top quality faculty and presumably even stronger student athletes – a true “win-win”. A fundamental part of the Grace ethos is relational, as expressed in the Program goal statement that relationships between and among students and faculty take precedence over demands of systems and efficiency, a product of which was the revamped JK-8 schedule.
    The different goals of the Plan intersect, such as the Program goal of integrating experiential and service learning opportunities and partnerships with neighboring institutions fully into the School’s programs and the focus of the second goal on the School’s Episcopal identity and intentionally inclusive community. Both of these goals have been greatly enhanced by the new Office of Community Engagement (OCE), which became fully operational this year as a resource center for values-laden components of the School’s programs, i.e., service, sustainability, equity and inclusion, and health and wellness (social-emotional learning). The School is actively moving towards a comprehensive service learning approach that is integrated into the School’s curriculum and touches every student. Such a model is deeply aligned with the School’s commitments to social justice and anti-racism, and with its identity as an Episcopal School, and allows students to learn about social issues, engage in meaningful service, and reflect on their experiences.  
    Progress in the Vertical Integration goals of the Plan was tracked in connection with four areas of cross-division integration: the Math and Foreign Language Department Reviews, Faculty Professional Day, the impact of the OCE, and other cross-campus events. The math curriculum is intended to teach by engaging and challenging students to solve problems together and learn reasoning, rather than to learn rote steps. Of note, students transitioning from middle to high school report being well prepared overall for high school math. While students at all levels of Grace have math outcomes similar to peer schools, math department self-study suggests there is room for improvement in the consistency of the curriculum, organization of support resources, and standards and language around testing and grading, and these areas will be addressed., Overall, it appears that the language department does an admirable job of preparing each division for the next and in creating opportunities for cross divisional interactions. The goals of this year’s professional day were to introduce the school to the OCE and to give faculty an opportunity to learn together across divisions. As noted previously in connection with other goals in the Plan, the OCE has continued and initiated a number of activities that seek to integrate the four divisions around issues of equity and inclusion. Vertical integration continued to grow across school divisions with other cross-campus events, including high school parent socials held on the 86 campus, Spirit Day engaging all divisions, and Homecoming, a new week-long event fully planned and executed by high schools students with fun for all.
    The Board’s Finance, Development and Capital Campaign committees continue to adhere to rigorous schedules regarding the Financial Sustainability goal of the Plan. The school remains on track to meet the financial goals set out in the Plan. This summer at the Board Retreat, there will be a special focus on the Why, What and How of Financial Aid.

    By Lee Chamberlin, Chair, Long Range Planning Committee

    The Long Range Planning Committee’s monitoring of the work accomplished under the 2015-2022 Long Range Plan was impeded by the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which resulted in the cessation of in-person instruction on April 1.  While the Committee’s monitoring subgroups were unable to follow through with much of their intended work for the year, the Committee nonetheless is pleased to report on continued progress under the Plan.
    The Program goal of the Plan was thrust into the spotlight as the academic year’s trajectory took a sudden, dizzying swerve.  The School showed remarkable flexibility in moving quickly to deliver program elements in new and age appropriate ways in each of the four divisions, never losing sight of the Program aim of “promot[ing] excellence in mind, body, heart and spirit across the school community, divisions and academic disciplines.”  Anticipating closure, the School responded by ending classes a day early for spring break to providing faculty training and Zoom practice sessions in preparation for smooth, all-remote teaching April 1.  The faculty did an amazing job of adapting to remote teaching and learning, with the consensus that students reached all of the fundamental goals of the School’s program, even though unable to enjoy the nuance and depth that they would have experienced with in-person instruction. This was true at all levels, but the younger the student, the less effective the remote learning environment.   
    The Program goal also includes specific focus on integrating and strengthening the School’s STEAM curricula and reviewing the scope and sequence of language instruction at all levels. During the 2018-19 year, departmental self-studies by the Foreign Languages and Math Departments were conducted. Both reports offered recommendations, some of which were implemented in full or in part in 2019-20.  With regard to language instruction, work progressed in a number of areas, including focus on offering beginning languages to new Middle School (MS) students during flex time; efforts to emphasize benefits of staying with one language at key transition points; consideration to offering Mandarin in MS, should there be sufficient interest; consideration to expanding Latin curricular resources for those who wish to pursue classics in college.  Efforts took place with the Dean of Equity and Inclusion to propose specific professional development for the language department to undertake.  Work in connection with math instruction focused on increasing math support for students and teachers. This took the form of adding a member of the Math Department to the Math Science Center leadership, to train consultants and match them with students, and assigning a math specialist to the Middle School Learning Center to provide individual support in class and out.
    Under the second Goal of the Plan – concerning the School’s Episcopal identity and its commitment to Diversity and Inclusion – a significant accomplishment was the creation of a new standing committee of the Board known as the Institutional Culture Committee (ICC) to focus on diversity and inclusion.  The ICC will seek to ensure that the core values that make the Grace Church School community unique will receive commensurate attention and commitment from the Board and the School.  The ICC will mirror the Education Committee and comprise a broad cross-section of the Grace community.  The ICC will develop structures to guide the Board and School towards ever increasing active ethical consciousness to be certain that Grace students have the ability to excel in a diverse world and are empowered to promote diversity, equity and belonging.
    The results of the Spring 2019 Community Survey continued to provide a useful measure of progress under the Vertical Integration goals of the Plan.  This was the first community survey conducted by the School, and as anticipated, there would unexpected results, both positive and negative.  Of particular note for the Committee and the Vertical Integration monitoring subgroup was the perception that many people believe that that there are two different schools at 86 Fourth Avenue and 46 Cooper Square, rather than a single, integrated school located on two campuses.  The Committee is engaged in considering ways in which those at the respective campuses can better understand how their perceived differences are in fact age appropriate expressions of the same overarching mission.
    The School learned that the start of its anticipated NYSAIS 10-year accreditation review would be postponed for a year until the fall of 2021.  This shift occurred as a result of NYSAIS member school closures, which prevented NYSAIS from completing on-going accreditation reviews.  While the expectation had been that the School would embark upon its next long range plan in the summer of 2021, in light of the change in the timing of the NYSAIS review, the planning process for the next long range plan may begin one year earlier.

    Submitted by Leona Chamberlin, Past Chair, Long-Range Planning Committee
© 2022 Grace Church School
Grace Church School is a co-educational independent school in downtown Manhattan, New York City providing instruction for nearly 800 students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12.