ninth grader racing their mousetrap carby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I benefitted from the guidance of a mentor whose mantra was, “plan the work, work the plan”. The constant drumbeat under his leadership helped me develop an appreciation for strategic thinking and long-range planning. Along the way I learned the necessity of looking ahead and the discipline required to achieve progress. Without an end in mind, as Alice learned from the Cheshire Cat, any road will suffice.

Mounds Park Academy has a long history of strategic planning designed to advance the mission of the school and to meet the emerging needs of students in an evolving and increasingly globalized society. Setting the vision of the school and establishing strategic direction are among the most important responsibilities of the MPA Board of Trustees. Our most recent plan, Momentum 2020, guided the MPA community through the last five years and came to an end last May. Momentum 2020 has been instrumental in setting forth a direction and providing strategic priorities that led to the incredible success and growth we’ve enjoyed over the last five years.

Last year, in partnership with the head of school and the school’s administration, the board began a process that would result in our next five-year plan. However, the planning and progress was significantly impacted by emergence of COVID-19. At the April 7 board meeting, the board of trustees and I shifted the focus of from long-range strategic planning to the development a comprehensive scenario analysis and planning effort to mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19. A detailed three-month integrated risk matrix and scenario analysis action plan was adopted at the May meeting to guide the school through the uncertainty of the summer months.

Throughout the summer, the board and I met monthly to monitor the action plan while simultaneously creating a roadmap to reopen the school. Having affirmed the reopening plan and putting a close to the immediate-term action plan, the trustees turned their attention to the creation of a timeline for the completion of the formal strategic plan. However, given the demand on the school’s fiscal and human resources necessary to successfully navigate the pandemic, the board decided to instead pivot to a two-year strategic plan.

As a result, an abbreviated strategic planning process is underway and will build upon and modify the existing plan, Momentum 2020, in light of our current reality. Building upon the existing strategic plan and four recommendations provided by our accreditation team, a short-term strategic plan will provide the flexibility and agility to move through the pandemic and set the stage for long range planning in the “new normal” after COVID-19.

The shift from long range to short-term planning will enable the school to prioritize supporting and delivering an exceptional educational experience during global pandemic and capitalize on the insights gained from designing and delivering in the COVID-19 pandemic environment in ways that position the institution for success in the future. Although we are on an abbreviated timetable, I nevertheless look forward to the involvement and engagement of our students, parents, faculty, and staff in this dynamic process in the coming months. The innovation, creativity, and success of MPA manifest in our reimagining of school over the last eight months will serve as the launch pad for the bright future ahead.

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