2015-2016 Annual Report
Letter from the Chairman of the Board
These words anchored us as we began our journey to chart the future of Solebury School and define its vision. In my letter last year, I shared that we had started down the road of the strategic planning process. This year, I’m pleased to report that, with the help of students, parents, alumni and friends of the school, we’ve reached an important milestone: the creation of a multi-year, informed yet ambitious, strategic plan. Here’s how we got there.
We began with a simple yet powerful question: What draws parents and students to an independent school? More specifically, what draws them to Solebury School? We wanted to learn the key attributes that compel families during their decision-making, so we began our strategic planning process with a market research study in early 2015, which surveyed Solebury School’s current and prospective parents. In addition, we asked our respondents to evaluate Solebury on those attributes.
With this market research data as our foundation, in Fall 2015, we brought on a consultant who organized one-on-one interviews, small focus groups and large group workshops. We recruited a diverse and inclusive group of representatives – current and past parents, current students and alumni, community leaders, thought leaders in education, our faculty, the administrative team and the Board of Trustees. Our goals were to: 1) identify Solebury’s current strengths, as well as areas for future improvement; 2) outline and clarify opportunities in our market for us to focus our efforts; 3) create a long-term vision for our school that would serve as our North Star, one that would help ensure a sustainable future.
How do we remain true to the heart and soul of Solebury? To ensure our core values, the team identified a set of characteristics to maintain and build upon. They included the teacher-student relationship, college and life preparation, diversity, informal environment, strong community, inclusive culture, small size and financial sustainability.
As a result of this tremendous effort and commitment from scores of members of the Solebury family, Solebury School now has a strategic plan and vision that will help guide us for the next 15+ years. You may have read about our plan in the Summer/Fall 2016 issue of Solebury Magazine.
The process worked and now the work begins. We take these finely crafted ideas and begin to layer them on our landscape, infuse them with our culture and community – the Solebury Way. I’m proud to say that the Strategic Planning process not only worked, but greatly exceeded my expectations, thanks to an unbelievably committed and dedicated community of Solebury supporters who gladly volunteer and unselfishly give when asked. We also see this giving spirit here, in this Annual Report. I am proud and humbled to be associated with such a fine group of talented and caring people.
Sometimes I think ahead to our 100-year anniversary in 2025 and how proud our founders would be of their school. A place that began with dreams of summer camp, three students and the belief that learning happens best when it is unfettered and inspired. The efforts of our community – whether to build our next strategic plan, endow the visual arts or achieve 30 years of consistent giving to the Annual Fund – strengthen Solebury School every day.
Thank you for your incredible support.
Chairman of the Board