School Spotlight: Jacksonville Country Day School Strengthens Its Strategy to Support Its Students

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Source Newsletter for Private School News Header Image

Private School News

We have often cited that every private-independent school should live by its mission, making each decision with this statement in mind.

Along with the mission, ISM recommends that schools create their full Purpose and Outcome Statements.

Purpose and Outcome statements include:

One school that recently took up this initiative, concentrating specifically on the Portrait of the Graduate, was Jacksonville Country Day School (JCDS). The school will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020 and is continuing to evolve to provide an innovative and dynamic learning environment for children and families while maintaining its mission.

To support its efforts, JCDS’ Board, in collaboration with the Head of School, chose to bring ISM in to help provide focus to its most recently completed strategic plan. We sat down with JCDS’s Director of Advancement, Rebecca Schwam, to ask some questions about the experience.

Q: What was it like working with ISM to complete your Strategic Performance Analysis?

A: From the Board of Trustees to our faculty and staff, everyone found the work with ISM to be focused and accessible. The ISM team did their due diligence and knew who we were the first day they stepped onto our campus.

Q: What impact have the results had on your school so far?

A: The impact of our work with ISM has been measurable. Not only have we improved efficiencies within our teams, but we have also been able to identify ways to better work across areas to provide a more meaningful approach to reaching our short- and long-term strategic goals.

Q: What impact do you think they will have in the future?

A: We have always treated our strategic plans as working documents, but in the past have not had the tools in place to work with them effectively. Working with ISM helped us not only define the “what” but the “how.” This will impact us as an organization for the long term.

Q: Your school also focused on developing your Portrait of the Graduate as part of this process. Why did you think it was important to create this type of statement?

A: The Portrait of the Graduate was the capstone to the work we were doing. By incorporating our faculty and staff in a collaborative process, we were all able to articulate who we are and allowed everyone to see what makes a JCDS education so unique—for current and former students.

Q: What impact do you hope your Portrait of the Graduate statement will have on recruitment and re-recruitment?

A: As an independent school that focuses on the education of Pre-K3 through sixth grade, we know how critical it is to provide children with a strong foundation in the classroom, on the field, and in the arts, coupled with our signature character education program. Our Portrait of the Graduate succinctly defines who we are and this will give us all something to rally around as we lead our school into the future.

Q: How do you think it’ll impact your graduates as they move into the higher levels?

A: Most children will spend more time at JCDS than they will at any other educational institution in their lifetime. Our graduates can look at the Portrait of the Graduate and find themselves in it—no matter who they are or where they go, they are a JCDS graduate first.

Q: Any advice for other schools looking to create their Portrait of the Graduate statement?

A: We have been successful in this process because we were all in—from our Board to our associate teachers to our Head of School. Everyone was, and remains, an active participant in the process.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, JCDS!

ISM's Advancement Academy

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for School Heads Vol. 16 No. 4 Creating a Focused and Condensed School Mission Statement
The Source for Advancement Vol. 15 No. 8 The Importance of Creating a Portrait of the Graduate Statement for Your School
The Source for School Heads Vol. 16 No. 3 Six Ways to Use the Characteristics of Professional Excellence

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 31 No. 5 Purpose and Outcome Statements: Capture the Essence of Your School
I&P Vol. 38 No. 7 Solutions for Your Wandering Mission Statement


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