Head of School Kathleen O'Neill Jamieson provided the NCS Parents Association with a review Wednesday of the school's accomplishments achieved over the past five years, and she offered an outline of how NCS will create a new strategic plan, a process that will begin next month.
Mrs. Jamieson framed her address before some 80 parents as a discussion of "how we've grown and where we're headed." The strategic plan
that concludes this year, "On Behalf of Our Students," has driven a remarkable amount of progress, she noted, and the mission statement
anchoring that plan—"We believe in the power of young women and educate them to embrace our core values of excellence, service, courage, and conscience."—now "resonates throughout the school."
NCS's commitment to developing girls' moral sense and guiding their ethical responses resulted in the creation of the Center for Ethical Leadership and Service, which has already earned national recognition for its interdisciplinary approach
to community service, leadership training, and religious life. CELS has also provided an important platform for alumnae to return to NCS
and talk to students about their career and life choices—a way to connect NCS women across the years.
Mrs. Jamieson noted that Prep for Success
, a new summer orientation program, has helped ease the transition for rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders into NCS. What has impressed her most about the program, Mrs. Jamieson said, was that it culminates in asking the girls to connect a story from their life to what NCS values most. Consequently, before the girls had taken even one NCS class, "they were publicly expressing their connection to our mission."
And she pointed with particular pride to NCS's work in diversity and multicultural education
, which she described as "among the best in the country, primarily because that work reflects our spiritual mission" and the result of "the commitment of so many people throughout this school."
The drive to maximize the potential of our science, math, and technology programs has resulted in a trove of initiatives: The Lower School's 1-on-1 iPad program; after-school enrichment
programming; new robotics and Science Olympiad
teams; the construction of an Engineering Garage
; and the development of new Upper School courses in math, technology, and science.
NCS continues to attract and retain outstanding faculty and staff, and Mrs. Jamieson highlighted a new tradition of dedicating one all-school Cathedral service to recognize the service
of adults at the school. "Clearly the girls appreciate tenure," she joked, adding, "Their love of their teachers and how they honor their teachers does nothing but good for anyone" attending that service.
Looking ahead, Mrs. Jamieson sketched a process that will culminate a year from now with a new five-year strategic plan. Members of the NCS Governing Board will kick off this effort May 8, when they are scheduled to hear about research on issues and trends affecting independent schools and higher education. Discussions will be significantly informed by the result of surveys completed by students, parents, faculty/staff, and, currently, alumnae.
"I look forward to a dynamic planning period that will take advantage of the expertise, good will, and perspective of NCS community members in anticipation of publishing the new strategic plan in September 2018," Mrs. Jamieson concluded.
Elise Rabekoff, the chair of the NCS Governing Board, followed Mrs. Jamieson to the lectern, where she reviewed the 2017-2018 budget. The board's first expense priority, she said, is "maintaining the quality of the education" through investing in NCS faculty. She reported that NCS's fiscal picture compares favorably with other independent schools in the region and the school is financially strong, with robust oversight and no new debt on the horizon.
Looking ahead, Ms. Rabekoff added, the board anticipates that investment returns from the school's endowment will play a larger role in financing NCS operations, easing the pressure on tuition to provide for annual needs. So its "ambitious" goal for the near future, she said, is growing the NCS endowment. "We are tuition-dependent, and we don't want to be," Ms. Rabekoff told the parents.