The strategic plan challenged school leaders to find better ways to attract high caliber and diverse candidates. Process improvements were put in place to better seek and find talent to broaden and enhance the school community. Following trainings on best practices in hiring, the school standardized its resume review and interview process, specifically focusing on developing questions related to the specific traits that are most valued at Graland and then asking those same questions to each candidate. Materials were redesigned to better reflect Graland’s culture and values as well as the tangible and intangible benefits of working at the school. A human resources manager position was created to strengthen Graland’s hiring practices and to develop systems for onboarding, training, and support.
Foster an inclusive community focused on supporting Graland’s mission statement and guiding principles.
Creating a Sense of Belonging
The plan advocated for more inclusivity, creating a school where everyone has a sense of belonging. A full-time Director of Equity and Inclusivity joined the administrative team in 2017, sparking initiatives like a DEI cohort, bringing more culturally responsive practices to classrooms, and engaging expert speakers. The role of parents in this conversation became more defined through Parent Education Network (PEN) events, affinity groups, and the Equity and Inclusivity Vice President of the Graland Parent Association (GPA). The School Climate Advisory Committee (SCAC) expanded and the chair was brought in as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees. The School recommitted to the “all-in” tuition model to ensure that most costs are covered by tuition.
Partnering with the Graland Parent Association
The strategic plan called for more active engagement with current families. The GPA works passionately to plan events around community building and connection. Over the past five years, the school’s partnership with the GPA has deepened and aligns more directly with school initiatives. The PEN speakers series is now a joint effort between Graland and the GPA, exploring themes relevant to the student experience. The GPA’s efforts are key to building a thriving community.
Engaging the Broader Graland Community
The plan recognized that all community members, including alumni, past parents, past leadership, grandparents, and friends have invested in and impacted Graland. Thus, new events and communications strategies encouraged broader engagement of the Graland community and invited these valued groups to learn more about the school, connect with leadership, and see the school in action.
Communicating About Who We Are
The strategic plan led to the rebranding of marketing materials to make the “Go Graland” theme feel more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible. The colorful artwork developed is not only more joyful, but also gives a more authentic representation of the Graland experience and values.
Support the most current and effective educational program by maximizing and expanding the school’s resources.
Redefining Philanthropy at Graland
The plan recognized the importance of strong financial support in addition to other types of resources. To educate Graland’s various audiences that its culture of philanthropy and giving included both financial and non-monetary contributions, such as family engagement, volunteerism, and leadership, we developed a new publication: Go Beyond: A Guide to Giving and Getting at Graland. This resource shared all the ways to be a part of Graland, specifically recognizing the value of being an involved parent, offering volunteer time or a specific talent, and contributing to the annual fund, the endowment, and other giving opportunities.We also shared more about the financial model of independent schools to better educate families about the strategic importance of the annual fund and how critical it is to the operating budget. Additionally, The Family of Funds was developed as part of the Graland Annual Fund to allow donors to find increased meaning by directing their giving in one of five categories.
The strategic plan recognized the importance of supplementing tuition with an endowment as a critical revenue source to uphold Graland’s commitment to financial aid, faculty development, and retention. With support from targeted campaigns and skilled fund management by the Graland Country Day School Foundation, the endowment nearly doubled, growing from $35 million in 2017 to $66 million in 2022. The Foundation’s 25th anniversary event and publication recognized the exceptional leadership of past and present donors and celebrated the vital role it plays in providing Graland with a strong financial foundation.
The Inspire Campaign was launched to support the faculty compensation model in perpetuity. Thanks to the Inspire Campaign Co-Chairs and Committee, generous donors, and the Graland Community, the resulting $10 million endowment generated critical resources to ensure that appropriate compensation decisions are made without interference from other budget considerations.
Improving Systems and Safety on Campus
The strategic plan identified the growing need for increased safety protocols for K-12 education, resulting in a focus on identifying new technology platforms and systems to support campus operations and communications. By 2019, Graland had launched parent IDs, increased campus security, implemented a pick-up carline, rolled out an emergency communications platform, and activated the Learning Management System (LMS) schoolwide. These systems, which were already in place by the time the pandemic hit, proved to be essential for supporting operations and communications, including remote learning and other daily disruptions.
Continue board involvement and support to meet Graland’s mission.
Increasing Board Engagement and Accessibility
The final focus of the strategic plan was sharing a better understanding of the role of Graland’s Board of Trustees and its governance structure. With greater board engagement and accessibility, Graland can attract trustees from broad backgrounds, who bring a breadth of experience and knowledge to Graland’s governance. The Board became a more familiar presence on campus through meet-and-greet events, increased community communications and updates, and a revised nomination process that includes recruiting non-Board members to Board subcommittees to broaden participation. The Board also participated in generative learning opportunities to better understand strategic initiatives around independent school education and inclusivity.