Blake 2015: Building on our Strengths

In setting forth a strategic plan for The Blake School for 2011 and beyond, the Board of Trustees reaffirms the current mission of the School, its core values and its Commitment to Pluralism.

The Board recognizes that the far-reaching Blake community members – students, faculty, administration, staff, parents and alumni – all bring their own perspective and unique hopes and dreams for the School’s future. This strategic plan aims to build on the high level of success we have reached within the independent school world and point us in the direction of even greater achievement within the top cohort of similar schools.

The Board’s four overarching goals frame the objective of this strategic plan. In our role as Trustees, the Board expects all decisions to be viewed through the lens of these objectives and to be aligned with these goals:

  • Strengthen Academic Excellence
  • Cultivate Preeminent Faculty and Staff
  • Prepare Students for World Citizenship, Leadership and Service
  • Invest in Blake’s Future

STRENGTHEN ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
Blake has established itself as a leading independent school as a result of the thoughtfulness, innovation, efficacy and lifelong value of its academic program. Small class sizes enable Blake professionals to know each child well. These relationships allow Blake teachers to help students build collaborative skills, explore areas of passionate interest and learn how to think, reflect and create. An ongoing evaluation of academic rigor and program consistency of our core curriculum will ensure that students are able to achieve at the highest levels possible.

  • Analyze curriculum PK-12 to ensure that topics are presented from multiple perspectives so that children at Blake can see something of themselves and their culture in the things they study.
  • Manage the pace and prioritization of new initiatives, and encourage students, faculty, administration and staff to maintain school and life balance.
  • Establish more interdisciplinary connections across the curriculum with the completion and regular updating of curriculum mapping to ensure complete and comprehensive alignment of content areas. PK-12 chairs will continue analysis, improve alignments and take advantage of synergies.
  • Define how best to use normative assessments within the context of our mission. Utilize internationally normed assessments that allow us to calibrate our students’ performance with all students who will be their peers in selective colleges.
  • Offer differentiated instruction for all students with consideration for those at the outlying ends of any spectrum.

CULTIVATE PREEMINENT FACULTY AND STAFF
The Blake School will continue to recruit and retain a talented, passionate, and diverse set of professionals and offer them the training, resources and support they need to thrive. We believe the community is strengthened with the encouragement of a dialog among peers and a broad sharing of innovative and best practices.

  • Continue to refine the teacher evaluation process such that the experience is individualized, growth-oriented and relevant. Offer professional development for evaluators to hone their evaluation skills. Plan a comprehensive review of the Effective Teaching Initiative (ETI) with a goal of developing advanced level reviews (Enhanced Performance Review 3 - EPR3) and beyond.
  • Offer significant professional development and training opportunities to non-faculty employees recognizing the crucial role they play at Blake.
  • Require and support the appropriate use of technological tools by all School employees that can help further the School’s mission. Through increased training and linkage to curriculum, faculty will meet expanded proficiency goals.

PREPARE OUR STUDENTS FOR WORLD CITIZENSHIP, LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE
Blake is committed to supporting our diverse, inclusive and engaged community, which is essential to developing globally competitive and competent leaders. We will prepare our students for college and the world beyond by looking across borders and encouraging our students to consider multiple perspectives and opinions. The overarching goal is for every Blake student, family and employee to be included and engaged in the Blake community.

  • Recruit, support and retain students, faculty, administration and staff who are committed to building a diverse and inclusive school community that allows students and families from a wide variety of backgrounds and lived experiences to succeed at Blake. Continue to develop cultural competency among all members of the community.
  • Integrate inclusivity and multiple perspectives into the teaching and learning program at all levels as they are essential for educational excellence and support the work of creating a supportive learning environment for all.
  • Maximize the potential of the Office of Equity and Community Engagement (OECE) to further Blake’s commitment to developing responsible world citizens through service and cultural immersion.
  • Align Blake’s public image with this goal and make every effort to differentiate Blake from other excellent educational options that families have.

INVEST IN BLAKE’S FUTURE
Blake will ensure its future success by investing in people and facilities that support the School’s mission and by maintaining financial stability. This will require prudent operational and financial management coupled with controlled annual tuition increases.

  • Safeguard our commitment to financial soundness:
    • Utilize operational efficiency as the primary method of funding new initiatives. Identify new potential sources of net revenue including the development and growth of Summer Programs and other auxiliary programs and initiatives.
    • Administer the Financial Aid program in a responsible, systematic manner while managing the average financial award size to allow for broader representation of income levels.
    • Make every effort to increase the ratio of endowment (net of debt) to the annual operating budget to bring it closer to 2:1.
  • Launch a comprehensive fundraising campaign to achieve long-term goals regarding investment in people, endowment, as well as physical plant and equipment. Continue fundraising efforts for the Faculty Excellence Fund.
  • Address facilities needs on the Northrop (Minneapolis) and Blake (Hopkins) campuses, particularly in the Lower School, the Northrop science wing and athletic department. The Hopkins Master Plan will guide all development plans for the Hopkins campus. Support ongoing upgrades in technological infrastructure.
  • Continue to identify and institutionalize best practices regarding environmental sustainability initiatives

Background and Process