September 20, 2019

Our Commitment to Excellence: Strategic Planning, SAIS/AdvancED Re-Accreditation, and CESA Membership Renewal

Last year, Hill Country Christian School began to lay the groundwork for 18 months of strategic planning, membership renewal, and re-accreditation. Strategic planning is the method we have chosen to satisfy the self-study requirement for our SAIS/AdvancED dual re-accreditation, scheduled for the end of 2020. Prior to re-accreditation, we are also due to renew our membership in CESA, another important association for our school. I would like to provide an overview of our plans, and preface community participation in the strategic planning process to occur in early 2020.

On June 14–15, 2019, our school board held a retreat to launch a year-long process of strategic planning aimed at preparing a roadmap for the school for the next five-plus years. To facilitate the process, the school retained Dr. Allen Pue. A former 15-year head of school, Dr. Pue is President of the Barnabas Group and currently serves on the board of the Education Foundation at the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). He has written a book on strategic planning and led more than 80 Christian schools through the strategic planning process over the past 20 years.

Following the retreat, the school board worked alongside my executive leadership team to develop the following draft documents and lists:

  • A new purpose statement, succinctly proclaiming why we exist.
  • A revised mission statement, describing how we achieve our purpose.
  • A revised list and description of school core values.
  • A portrait of the ideal graduate: a shortlist of desired student outcomes.
  • Characteristics of professional excellence: a list of the attitudes, behaviors, and values of the ideal faculty.

Throughout this school year, I plan to convene a series of focus groups to solicit feedback from the community on each of the above guiding documents. In parallel, beginning January 2020, a strategic planning task force will convene to develop a list of strategic initiatives and action items to form our new 2020-2025 strategic plan, also based on community feedback.

All of this information will be reviewed by the school board in the spring of 2020, in preparation for revision and finalization of these guiding documents at the June 2020 board retreat. Once strategic planning ends, detailed preparation for dual re-accreditation through SAIS (The Southern Association of Independent Schools) and AdvancED (formerly SACS, the oldest school accrediting body in the South) will commence in earnest. The accrediting team visit is scheduled for November 9–11, 2020.

During the fall of 2019, we are pausing the strategic planning process to prepare for our CESA (The Council on Educational Standards and Accountability) membership renewal. CESA is a relatively new standards body for Christian schools that embraces high academic and programmatic standards as well as a strong commitment to keeping Christ at the center of educating students. A team visitation from CESA is scheduled for December 1–3, 2019.

Please pray for discernment and wisdom as school leadership works to set our course for the future!

In Christ,
Dr. Jeff Marx