by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

Happy new year! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful winter break spending time with family and loved ones. I appreciated a few days off plus several days of quiet, uninterrupted time in the office. The building can be eerily quiet when school is not in session and I miss the time with students and the laughter and smiles in the hallways.  

I watched a lot of football over the break and was inundated with commercials promoting weight loss programs and fitness centers, all capitalizing on the new year and the resolutions many make. I made my own resolution to run more, after spending the last year recovering from a serious injury. It also wouldn’t hurt for me to lose a few pounds or so! A quick poll taken of our students today resulted in the following resolutions:

Lower School

  • Play less video games 
  • Spend more time working on cleaning my room
  • Spend more time with my family

Middle School

  • Be more on top of my school work
  • Wash my sheets once a week
  • Be more grateful

Upper School

  • Eat more vegetables
  • Learn sign language
  • Improve my back posture

I love the variety of responses and the earnestness of each resolution. Whether or not any of us are successful, the belief that we can and are able to change and grow is fundamental to human development. The year ahead presents itself as a clean slate and we have the opportunity to boldly look forward with great hope, intent, and anticipation.

I spent a fair amount of time over break analyzing the results from two recent surveys and thinking through the implications. In early December, MPA employees participated in a very thorough survey that is administered on a regular basis and intended to measure workplace satisfaction and employee engagement. You are aware of another survey given last month, the Net Promoter Survey, which measures parent satisfaction. I’d like to share some of the key insights from both and how the data will be utilized to drive decision-making at Mounds Park Academy.

Workplace Survey

Simon Sinek asks the question, “Imagine a world in which the vast majority of us wake up inspired, feel safe at work, and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.” I am humbled to share that faculty and staff have tremendous pride in MPA. They see their work contributing to the school’s mission in meaningful ways, experience a deep sense of accomplishment, and are committed to the success of MPA.  

Over the last several years, we’ve made significant progress (a 33% improvement) in providing the resources for faculty and staff to engage in meaningful professional development. Teachers and staff are truly life-long learners and seek out innovative and creative ways to improve their teaching and their curriculum. 

Overall, employees believe they are valued and appreciated. As a leader, my resolution is to continue to seek ways in which I can involve the faculty and staff in decision-making. I also need to practice more gratitude, to put the everyday demands in context so that I have time to say thank you more often. The survey affirms that MPA is a great place to work and we have incredible people working each day to model our mission and make a difference in the lives of our students. 

Net Promoter Survey

In short, the Net Promoter Survey is commonly used in business to measure customer service.  Similarly, MPA uses the Net Promoter Survey to measure parent satisfaction and solicit feedback for use in continuous improvement. The survey and score is also important because current parent referrals are the most important source of admission inquiries and the best predictor of new enrollment.

Respondents are grouped as follows:

  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.  
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings. 
  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.

Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a promoter).

Fred Reichheld, author of The Ultimate Question, found the average Net Promoter Score among the companies he surveyed was 10 to 15. It follows, then, that if a score is north of 15, it is above average. A small handful of companies have achieved a Net Promoter Score of at least 50, which Reichheld defines as “World Class.” The average score according to Survey Monkey is 16 across 146,716 organizations.

I am humbled by our results. Two hundred and seventy nine families participated and the MPA Net Promoter Score is 59. When asked what MPA does really well, the top three responses were:

  1. Welcoming, kind, caring, inclusive, and safe community
  2. Excellent faculty who really know students well
  3. Strong college prep curriculum without sacrificing a whole-child pedagogy

I was struck by two open-ended responses because they articulated so well what we strive to do each day. 

“MPA simultaneously fosters a culture of compassion, diversity, academic rigor, and a general spirit of inclusion—all levels, all demographics. Integrates important life skills (e.g. collaboration, speaking, planning, analyzing) into the regular curriculum so students “live” development as opposed to only “studying” development; critical in today’s society and with an eye toward the future. Consistently offers individual attention to ensure every student is and feels celebrated and championed. Demonstrates care and the importance of care for its community: students, faculty, families and the world outside of MPA.” 

“At its best, MPA exemplifies a whole-child focus, a commitment to understanding and appreciating each child’s individual strengths and motivations while addressing areas for improvement in a supportive and encouraging way.” 

I appreciate and welcome the affirmation. It is both humbling and inspiring, motivating all of us to continue to work diligently to live up to our mission, the expectations of our parents, and the needs of our students. At the same time, the way in which the second quote begins is particularly meaningful. “At its best, MPA…” By recognizing our best, it reminds me that there are times when we are not our best, not serving our parents or students particularly well, and not meeting our high standards. 

Fred Reichheld of Bain and Company, creator of the Net Promoter Survey, said, “It’s not the score that matters; it’s what you do with it to make promoters that really counts.” My new year’s resolution to you, as head of school, is that MPA will remain steadfast in our commitment to continuous improvement. I am not content to rest on our laurels and am not satisfied with the status quo. As an institution, and as individuals, we must model for our young people that we value diverse perspectives and feedback and that we are capable of improvement and growth.

Author’s Note: I’d like to make my weekly message more interactive. Click here to offer your thoughts on the Net Promoter Survey and resolutions for the new year. I will incorporate your feedback into future Head’s Messages. Thank you!

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