Catlin Gabel Strategic Planning
An Introduction by
great education doesn’t just happen. It requires a coordinated effort between students, teachers, and family members – the circle of support that guides a child’s journey. It’s a complex process built on theory and practice, and one that is evolving constantly to meet students when and where they are ready to learn.
Catlin Gabel does this better than almost any school in the nation. And central to our success is a commitment to principles of progressive education. We focus on providing every student with a top-tier academic education, and lessons in character and integrity that they carry with them throughout their lives.
Our plan is to maintain and build upon this excellence for generations to come. We’ll accomplish this by concentrating on improvement, rather than focusing merely on change.
Our year-long Strategic Planning process revealed our remarkable capacity to be bold, and our potential for the future. The effort brought together many voices in our community to help us define the “best” of what we are, and to imagine what our students will need from us in the years ahead.
We began with a collective understanding of what is working well:
Students are thriving at Catlin Gabel. They’re learning in a diverse and inclusive community characterized by warmth and respect. Kindness is the norm. They’re encouraged in their interests, and highly engaged in their educational journey.
Families are embraced as partners. They are highly satisfied with their child’s experience at Catlin Gabel, and deeply committed to supporting the school.
Teachers and staff are dedicated. The school attracts talented, ambitious educators who grow in their profession, and a highly skilled staff who partner with them.
The school is flourishing. Our fiscal health exceeds peer school benchmarks, with a consistently balanced budget and healthy endowment. Demand for admission is high.
Programs are dynamic. Distinctive signature programs take students beyond the classroom, where they learn by exploring the city, the region, and the world.
We provide a strong grounding in academic disciplines. This continues to be central to a Catlin Gabel education, delivered with teaching methods that reflect the best practices of an evolving profession.
Character development is an educational component. A long-standing school ethos, we teach respect for oneself, and for the ideas, feelings, and experiences of others. Increasingly, these ethics and morals extend to online identity as well.
The campus is an oasis. As city life intensifies, the campus remains peaceful and pastoral, a natural setting for students to explore. Facilities are impeccably maintained.
The school epitomizes excellence. Catlin Gabel is recognized as one of the nation’s finest schools. Our students develop into global citizens who value learning, diversity, social responsibility, and achievement.
Alumni are citizens of the world. The empathy and interest they’ve gained at Catlin Gabel lead them to responsible action, and to make positive contributions to society.
This level of success should be a source of pride for anyone associated with Catlin Gabel. But recognizing our current qualities and outcomes is only the start.
he educational model of Catlin Gabel is enormously effective and advancing our institution begins by acknowledging this fact. Our approach to teaching and learning has inspired generations of independent thinkers and lifelong learners. We will inspire many more.
Changing the direction of the school or developing unrelated new programs will not improve the Catlin Gabel experience, but committing fully to our progressive principles will. We will benefit our students by both building on our strengths and focusing on our aspirations:
Engage our students in deeper and more meaningful learning by expanding opportunities for experiential learning on campus and in the wider world.
Attract and develop the most talented progressive educators by ensuring that Catlin Gabel is always a top choice for the nations’ best teachers.
Bring a disciplined approach to innovation and success by simultaneously building on our strengths and practicing the laboratory approach.
Inspire educational innovation reform nationally by sharing our thought leadership and educational model.
Our success in achieving these aspirations depends on our ability to focus in the coming years on two key strategic priorities.
xperiential learning – learning by doing – is a powerful way to engage a student intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. It’s an approach that develops adaptable and resilient learners, provides context and relevance, and integrates academic knowledge with real-world experience.
Learning by experience is a Catlin Gabel tradition, but our Strategic Plan expands these experiences with a new aspiration: to connect students to their community in practical, authentic ways. With cultural competence, students can lead responsibly, and explore the world with empathy and understanding.
We Will Embed Experiential Learning Across All Grades and Subjects
We Will Create Interdisciplinary Learning Experiences in Varied Environments
We Will Develop a Network of Community Partners
We Will Engage Students in Portland-based Initiatives That Have Positive Social Impact
We Will Encourage Appreciation For and Understanding of the Natural World
xtraordinary teaching and institutional focus will enable us to achieve our strategic goals, and to further the school’s standing as an educational leader. We will grow as an educational laboratory for learning and innovation, both within our classrooms and as institution.
Students will benefit from a more collaborative teacher approach to improving classroom practice, and from a more disciplined institutional approach to developing new ideas and assessing value. They will benefit as well from a unified “one school” approach to creating new programs, hiring employees, and making resource decisions.
We Will Reinforce Principles of Progressive Education
We Will Use Evidence of Student Learning to Improve the Educational Experience
We Will Foster Disciplined Innovation in Curriculum and Operations
We Will Measure Institutional Outcomes and Define Success
We Will Inspire Innovative Education Reform Locally and Nationally
ith our Strategic Plan, Catlin Gabel teachers, staff, parents, and school leaders were challenged to do precisely what we encourage of our students: to be bold and principled, embrace change, take risks, and be prepared to learn from our mistakes.
Our plan will succeed because of this approach. We know that achieving long-term goals requires us to be flexible and adaptable, and to learn as we proceed. In this realm, Catlin Gabel has always excelled.
As in all laboratory models, results drive further exploration, and this is true for all aspects of our Strategic Plan, from the creation of innovative programs to the allocation of resources. We will learn and evolve as we deepen our commitment to diversity and inclusion, for example, and as we make decisions around campus infrastructure, enrollment planning, and financial planning.
Every part of our Strategic Plan provides an opportunity for the school to evolve and improve. As we work towards creating a better educational experience for our students, we ask our school community to stay engaged. Visit the webpage regularly for updates, and share your thoughts directly by emailing HOS@catlin.edu.