Waterford Rising: Update on the Strategic Plan II

Date Posted:  Friday, April 26, 2019 Byline:  Andrew Menke, Head of School

As the sun streams through the canyons washing the campus quads with warmth, the grass greens, the pear trees flower and elevated idealism abounds. This is a spectacularly vibrant time at Waterford!

With seven weeks remaining in the 2018-19 school year, I write to update you on our strategic plan implementation progress.

While Waterford continues to be animated by a sense of purpose, we remain steadfastly committed to the core purpose of teaching and learning in the liberal arts tradition. Each day in our classrooms, our committed faculty challenge your talented children to pursue the depth and breadth of our program instilling curiosity, and a love of life-long learning that provides the path to pursue lives of meaning and purpose.

Motivated by our mission to provide a world-class, liberal arts education that stimulates intellect, ignites passion and shapes character we continue to ardently pursue improvement through the five goals articulated in our strategic plan - teaching excellence, the student experience, community partnerships, awareness and outreach and fiscal sustainability.

In an effort to maximize mission efficacy, and enhance the learning experience for students, all members of our community - faculty, staff, administration, parents, students and trustees are happily working to operationalize each of our planning initiatives:

  • As a full academic program review comes to a close, we prepare to review the vertical alignment of our curriculum to ensure divisional congruence that is developmental and mission centered.
  • A faculty task force has formally defined teaching excellence at Waterford—a commitment to the liberal arts, instructional acumen (content and pedagogy), and relational capacity. Next steps will outline an improved process for ongoing assessment and professional growth for all teaching faculty.
  • We have begun to discuss faculty compensation, and in the next school year, we plan to articulate philosophy and policy that best recognizes, supports and retains our talented faculty.
  • We have expanded faculty recruitment efforts and refined interview and vetting practices to ensure that we continue to attract and retain exceptional teaching staff. As seen in a recent email, we will launch an annual faculty/staff and parent survey this spring that will provide valuable input to inform improvement efforts.
  • The health and wellness team is preparing a philosophy statement to guide their work. We have adopted the SafeUT app, an online crisis and tip line supported by University of Utah clinicians; and we have begun a parent speaker series and will offer this resource to parents once per term next year.
  • An athletic task force has articulated a philosophy statement to guide our sports programs going forward and is refining a set of goals to inform athletic improvements in the years ahead.
  • A faculty group is discussing how to build partnerships along the Wasatch front to maximize the resources available to best support teaching and learning at Waterford—an internship coordinator will begin work this spring to build opportunities for Waterford students following their junior year.
  • We have partnered with Silicon Slopes to build awareness and provide informational materials about Waterford to Utah tech sector employees.
  • We have articulated two initial areas of cultural competency focus - building a broader pool of faculty and staff candidates and developing opportunities for empathy-building and perspective-raising through community engagement.
  • We have appointed a Director of Auxiliary Programs to grow non-tuition resources and revenue through mission-appropriate opportunities. 
  • Master Planning is in its final stages and a comprehensive campus plan will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees at its May meeting.
  • At its March meeting, the Board of Trustees adopted a capital campaign to support a new science center, student commons/dining hall, and continued endowment growth. Here is an Executive Summary prepared from the information gathered from school stakeholders this spring.

There is a palpable buzz of energy and excitement, as we work to execute our planning objectives in support of great teaching and and learning at Waterford!

I close with my deepest gratitude to so many who have embraced the opportunity for improvement. Together, we write the exciting next chapters at Waterford and support transformational learning, one child at a time. The liberal arts teach your child how to think, question, and productively engage in a dynamic world that is increasingly more interconnected and interdependent than at any time in human history. Your children, Waterford graduates, are the leaders of tomorrow - and we need them now more than ever.

We are grateful to be in partnership with you in this most noble work!

As always, reach out at any time should you have questions or feedback.

Yours in education,

Andrew Menke,  Head of School