Year Four Review
2020-21 Catlin Gabel Strategic Planning
by Tim Bazemore, Head of School
Teaching and Learning
This year, we launched our redesigned professional learning program, a strategic plan priority in development for the past two years. Instead of traditional conferences and one-off or one-size experiences, we followed the research and shifted professional learning to be embedded, relevant, and ongoing. The instructional coaching program provided teachers with feedback on how to improve their practice and promoted promising innovations in the spirit of our educational laboratory initiative. Our three instructional coaches partnered with over 60 teachers, observing Zoom and in-person classes and offering feedback on everything from student engagement to virtual assessment to tech tips.
An important experiential learning initiative was realized this year when we concluded a primary curriculum project: review and alignment of our PS-12 math program. Following research and decisions made in 2020, Beginning and Lower School math teachers implemented the Illustrative Mathematics (IM) curriculum, employing inquiry-based materials to support students in their investigative approach to learning mathematics. A committee of Middle and Upper School math teachers reviewed a variety of math curriculum options and concluded that Illustrative Mathematics was the best choice as the core text for students in grades 6-12, as it requires students to think critically and analytically, and to understand math concepts more deeply before practicing algorithms. Next year, teachers will pilot IM materials with the goal of transitioning all grades to using IM in the 2022-2023 school year.
Equity and Antiracism
A significant area of focus and work this year has been on issues of equity, antiracism, and inclusion. The tragic events of last summer emphasized the need for Catlin Gabel, like all institutions, to better understand the experience of marginalized people in our community, and how systems and culture sustain inequity.
This acknowledgment led to a variety of efforts, including cross-constituent work groups considering areas such as hiring and curriculum, the student-led Anti-Racism Collective meeting with administrators to learn and question how the school operates, and parent affinity groups meeting with the board of trustees to share their experience and recommendations. We took steps to initiate change and institutionalize this work with new financial and staff commitments and are developing an overarching strategic equity plan that will integrate ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives with the antiracist imperatives we identified this year.
Guided by our long range strategic plan, we continued this year to pursue institutional excellence in key areas: fiscal health, sustainability, operations, and social-emotional health.
After assessing the budget impact of COVID-19, we identified savings to ensure a balanced budget. Increased tech, facilities, financial assistance, and personnel costs were offset by freezes and reductions, and lower utilities and transportations costs. The school qualified for an EANS grant to help offset COVID-19 expenses. The overall result is a stable and positive financial picture as we head into our next fiscal year, which begins on September 1, 2021.
The Catlin Gabel Fund, which provides nearly $2 million in gifts to support the school’s budget, also met target goals this year. The generous philanthropic support of community members made this possible.
A significant factor in our financial health was a successful admission season. Our enrollment team designed a virtual process that was highly engaging and informative, and the result was a well-qualified pool of applicants across the grades and a projected full enrollment of 775 in 2021-22.
Our investment in PGE’s Green Future Enterprise Program, which commits us to 100% renewable energy, led to over two million fewer pounds of CO2 entering the atmosphere this year. The Sustainability Team supported families and colleagues with ways to conserve resources and reduce carbon footprints at home. On-campus community efforts were limited, but we have joined forces with SCRAP to serve as a pick-up site for reusable materials.
In our ongoing efforts to support a healthy and positive culture of relationships, we hired an independent firm, SOS360, to conduct a review of our student safety policies, practices, and employee trainings. They provided us with positive reviews of existing systems, as well as suggestions for updates and other opportunities.