Our Vision for Strategic Planning

MKA will provide our students with a transformational education within a strong, vibrant, and innovative school community. We will guide our students as individuals and learners on their journey to becoming ethical beings, critical thinkers, honorable leaders, and responsible citizens.  We will create the best possible learning and teaching environment for students and faculty across a well-integrated three-campus facility.  We will advance our commitment to diversity and inclusivity through our curriculum and programming, and we will both broaden and deepen our dedication to environmental sustainability. 

These accomplishments will confirm MKA’s leadership among educational institutions, serve the greater good of our students, and ensure the betterment of our community and the world in which we live.

Fulfillment of the Strategic Plan is the responsibility of MKA’s Board of Trustees, who hold the school in trust for future generations. In order to accomplish these goals, the Board of Trustees assumes responsibility for identifying and acquiring the resources necessary to achieve the goals of the strategic plan. Therefore, the Board of Trustees will:

  • Establish priorities within the Strategic Plan
  • Identify the cost implications of each goal and develop a financial plan to support implementation
  • Ensure that the goals and associated strategies and action steps are placed on a timetable, with appropriate assignments of responsibility
  • Monitor progress made on MKA’s strategic goals

Sincerely,

Kathleen M. Logan, President, Board of Trustees
Chair, Strategic Planning Committee

Our Strategic Goals

Goal 1 - Program

MKA will transform the lives of our students by providing a program that: focuses on growth-minded development of the whole person; develops students’ curiosity, creativity, discovery, innovation, and ability to analyze and inquire; enhances students’ understanding of varied and multicultural perspectives; and encourages students to use their education to positively engage with the world.

Implementation

  • Define and develop a Pre-K-12 multicultural curriculum that reflects and affirms the identities of our students and provide professional development to the faculty to support implementation
  • Design and transform program at MKA to provide new types and levels of challenge for MKA students
  • Identify, evaluate and advance the STEM or STEAM experiences and opportunities at MKA
  • Continue to integrate sustainability concepts and practices into the curriculum and community life
  • Highlight and support the structures and processes that promote creative and strategic program design at MKA

Goal 2 - A One-School Community

MKA will further integrate and connect each of our distinct and age appropriate campuses and the school in ways that are inclusive, creative and practical.  We will deepen our relationships with each other by fostering a diverse and inclusive school in which we understand and engage with our varied backgrounds and cultural identities.

Implementation

  • Increase the systematic use of the Mission Statement, the Character Standards, the Diversity and Inclusion Statement of Purpose and the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies in the professional discourse of the faculty and administration
  • Strengthen annual engagement with the principles of the Mission Statement, the Character Standards, the Diversity and Inclusion Statement of Purpose and the SEL Competencies in Trustee education and the work of the Board of Trustees
  • Deepen our relationships with each other by fostering a diverse and inclusive school in which we understand and engage with our varied backgrounds and identities through community building activities, programs and engagement
  • Continue to develop the role of the Culture of Integrated Ethics Committee in unifying Pre-K-12 programs and initiatives
  • Provide All-School recognition for students who serve the MKA community
  • Integrate recurring use of resources such as the Green Roof classroom and the Upper School Amphitheater into the academic programs at Primary and Middle Schools
  • Create recurring opportunities for students at each of the three campuses to share their work in the fine and performing arts by performing and presenting at the other campuses.
  • Incorporate discussion of MKA’s brand statement into the annual work of the Administrative Council

Goal 3 - Faculty

MKA seeks to be a preeminent school for professional educators where excellence in teaching is normative, where ongoing professional growth is expected and supported and where educators are honored and respected for their daily contribution to the success of our students. By their commitment to their vocation, our educators shape the very nature of the educational experience at MKA and further distinguish the school’s reputation. 

Implementation

  • Ensure that every teacher is supported to fulfill the commitments of MKA’s mission
  • Implement a consistent and formative evaluation process that supports teaching excellence and is complementary to the Professional Growth Process (PGP), the Protocol for Faculty Support, and existing systems of feedback for faculty
  • Strengthen faculty and administrative recruitment, retention and development with a model program that promotes and ensures each educator’s engagement with professional growth
  • Increase the racial and ethnic diversity of MKA’s faculty through the development of strategies and increased resources to identify, recruit and retain diverse candidates
  • Identify schools, thought leaders, and organizations from around the world with whom MKA can partner on program innovation, planning and implementation and provide faculty with support and incentives to draw on these resources
  • Market the professional development of faculty as a signature program at MKA

Goal 4 - Outreach

MKA will cultivate a distinctly outward looking relationship with our alumni and institutions with a relevant or educational mission such as universities, service organizations, medical centers and innovative enterprises in technology, research and business in order to provide our students with unique learning opportunities beyond the boundaries of the school and to offer a human benefit to those partner organizations.

Implementation

  • Map MKA’s partnerships and collaborative initiatives with other communities, organizations and educational institutions through connections such as MKA’s Pre-K-12 Community Engagement Program, Global Experiences, May Term, The Green School Alliance, and faculty professional development
  • Assess the range and depth of these partnerships and collaborative initiatives in order to balance what is available over the course of an MKA student’s experience
  • Develop thematic strands that link the opportunities we offer and and provide insight to develop additional partnerships and collaborative initiatives

Goal 5 - The Teaching and Learning Environment

MKA will ensure that our teaching and learning environments are attractive, flexible in purpose and conducive to teaching and learning and that they meet the aesthetic, physical, creative and technological goals of our programs and the needs of our students.

Implementation

  • Develop a set of educational design principles informed by sustainability to guide developmentally appropriate space design, usage and care for all three campuses
  • Advance our understanding of the digital environments where learning can occur and the associated broadening of when and where teaching and learning can take place
  • Expand the facilities of the Primary School to include redesign of the campus site to address issues such as parking, car line and general safety as well as building a new flexible space that includes an auditorium, dining room and kitchen that will then make possible renovations to the existing entrance, the “gymnatorium” and the library
  • Transform current space at Middle School into a comprehensive academic center such as now exists at Upper School
  • Redesign and upgrade Middle School athletic fields and outdoor play areas
  • Develop plans and associated cost estimates and timetable for the phased installation of air conditioning in Primary, Middle and Upper School classrooms

Goal 6 - Financial Growth and Sustainability

MKA will develop and implement proposals that strengthen sources of non-tuition revenue such as annual giving, endowment, grants and auxiliary operations in order to provide a transformative education to our students, robust and meaningful professional development opportunities for our faculty and to fulfill all of our aspirations included in the Strategic Plan which require the growth of MKA’s financial resources.

Implementation

  • Establish realistic and aggressive goals for annual giving growth
  • Develop long-term goals for endowment growth and the strategies to achieve them
  • Review current and initiate new auxiliary programs to advance MKA’s reputation and to provide increased revenue
  • Include grant applications in the funding proposals for new programs and projects
  • Develop a rationale for MKA’s next campaign that includes enhancing and diversifying the school’s financial resources

 

Our Values

We are committed to the development of each student's character by providing a program of academic excellence and sustaining an inclusive adult and student community in which all are important, all can succeed and all maintain a collective commitment to continuous improvement. We will foster these values by fulfilling the following commitments:

Building character:

  • Inspiring students to express themselves intellectually, artistically, ethically, and emotionally
  • Honoring the hard work and and fulfilled commitments of each member of our community
  • Authentically engaging students with multicultural perspectives, people, organizations and resources in our community and around the world
  • Modeling leadership and fellowship
  • Achieving balance in the qualities of one’s character and commitments

Providing an academic program with the following characteristics of excellence:

  • Nurtures a love of learning
  • Teaches students to think critically, to learn widely and to recognize the significance of process
  • Is innovative, challenging and engaging
  • Elevates the importance of reflection and collaborative learning
  • Educates the whole person as an independent learner and a contributing member of the community
  • Develops self-aware citizens with broad perspectives who can meaningfully contribute to the world

Sustaining an inclusive school community in which all are important and all can succeed by:

  • Celebrating our strengths as an inclusive and diverse community
  • Knowing and respecting one another and celebrating our differences
  • Ensuring that each student is recognized and connected to school and to communities beyond MKA
  • Building strong relationships with all of our constituents
  • Developing the whole person – students and adults
  • Fostering a vibrant community
  • Supporting the pursuit of our students’ passions and interests so that they may discover who they are

Maintaining a collective commitment to continuous improvement by:

  • Recognizing the importance of innovation
  • Embracing change while honoring tradition
  • Continually deepening our ethical understanding of the world
  • Encouraging each of us – students, faculty, administrators, and all employees -  to push our own limits and to excel beyond our own expectations
  • Modeling and teaching what it is to be life-long learners
  • Encouraging the professional growth of all MKA colleagues

Our Process

The strategic planning process undertaken by MKA is noteworthy for its inclusive, innovative and collaborative qualities. The School relies on our mission-based commitment to provide our students with a transformative education. In relation to program, MKA is committed to advances in teaching and learning that are not necessarily additive, but advance the quality and the impact of what is taught and learned, and in the lives of our students a transformative education fosters their intellectual independence and their positive engagement with the world.

MKA's Reaccreditation Process

The 2014 NJAIS/MSA Visiting Accreditation Team's commendations and recommendations provided a valuable, external assessment of MKA's strengths and opportunities that led to a revision/refinement and clarification of the school's mission statement and informed strategic planning conversations.

The Strategic Planning Retreat

We began in September 2015 with a community-based Strategic Planning Retreat under the direction of an experienced and respected consultant, Diane Hulse of Hulse Consulting, who had come to know MKA in 2013-14 through co-chairing the NJAIS/MSA Visiting Accreditation Team. The Values and Vision Statements included here emerged when over 90 alumni, student, parent, Trustee, and faculty retreat participants collaborated to identify MKA"s core strengths in terms of its values and vision and areas for strategic improvement.

The Online JAM

In the spirit of innovation and inclusiveness, MKA held an extended online forum – the JAM, hosted by Knowledge in the Public Interest – in November 2015 to engage other members of all of our constituencies in reflections and conversations, facilitated by faculty, students, alumni and trustees, about specific topics generated by the retreat.  Our constituents responded to the following JAM topics and questions derived from the September Strategic Planning Retreat:

1. The Best of MKA

What do we value most in an MKA education?

As a student, graduate, past or present parent or faculty member, what have you found most unique, vital and enduring – the best of MKA in terms of strengths, values, experience?

2.  The Next Generation

From student research opportunities across disciplines to technology and environmental focus, MKA has steadily enlivened and expanded its program. 

Where should we invest further to strengthen students’ educational experience?

3.  Three Unique Campuses = One Great Community

Benefits and challenges are inherent in MKA’s physical structure. 

How can we make the most of our unique, historic three-campus presence? 

4.  The MKA Connection

At MKA, we believe “what starts here doesn’t end here.” 

How can we continue to be a source of value for our extended community of alumni and families long after graduation? 

5.  Reputation in Action

To thrive and grow, we need to let the world in on what makes MKA tick, thrive,    and excel.

What actions can we take to keep inside and outside perceptions in sync with reality?

Goals Development - MKA’s Strategic Planning Committee and Board of Trustees

Led by a Strategic Planning Committee of Trustees and Administrators, collaboration between the Board of Trustees and Administration has characterized the work of the final part of the planning process in which there have been multiple opportunities to review, discuss and organize our community’s contributions to MKA’s next strategic plan.

In December 2015 and February 2016, MKA’s Strategic Planning Committee reviewed and analyzed the community’s responses to the JAM topics and developed a set of draft goals for strategic planning.

In March of 2016, the Board of Trustees was led in a parallel exercise to review the Values and Vision Statements developed at the September Retreat and to draft 4-6 goals to guide MKA’s strategic planning for the next 5 years.

Final Revisions – Goals for Strategic Planning

In April 2016, MKA’s strategic planning consultant provided the Chair of Strategic Planning and the Headmaster with a consolidated document of strategic goals and associated action steps that had been recommended by the Strategic Planning Committee and the Board of Trustees.  In five working meetings from July 2016 through February 2017, a task force of administrative and trustee members of the Strategic Planning Committee continued a process of refining and balancing the draft Strategic Plan which was then presented to the Board of Trustees in March 2017 and approved at the April, 2017 Board of Trustees Meeting.

Strategic Plan Task Force

Merrick Andlinger (co-chair)
Carlaina Bell
Evelyn Colbert
Carolyn Everson
Dave Flocco (co-chair)
Margaret Gonzales
Ben Goodrich
Tracy Higgins
Kate Logan
Tom Nammack
Karen Newman
Stephen Valentine
Rachel Geringer-Dunn
Randy Kleinman

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Strategic Planning Retreat & MKA JAM

Ninety members of the MKA community participated in a Strategic Planning Retreat in September 2016. The daylong session was inspired and informed by the collective experience of the students, parents, alumni, Trustees, faculty, and administrators in attendance. The findings from this day served as a catalyst for the MKA JAM, an online conversation that took place in November 2016. The vision shaped by both events provided a foundation for the work of the Strategic Planning Committee led by Trustee and Committee Chair Kate Logan.

Community Voices

Primary School Parent

"I have been impressed with how the students at all grades care for one another. It is something the school has instilled in our children. They understand that they are citizens in this special community."

Parent/Faculty

"What unites us across campuses and across constituencies, I believe, is our shared commitment to providing the best possible experience for our students: academically, athletically, socially, and emotionally."

Parent/Trustee

"I think one of the greatest values of an MKA education is that our students are taught to question and think for themselves and to defend their own points of view."

Alumnus

"An education at MKA is the foundation for critical thinking, authentic inquisitiveness, and exploring a variety of learning/teaching styles."

Upper School Parent

"The thing I hear the most is that MKA graduates are extremely prepared for college/university. This speaks to our high level of academics and the quality of our faculty."

Faculty

"MKA's attention to professional development is second to none. Also, MKA's collegiality and attention to collaboration between colleagues is truly unique."

Middle School Parent

"I feel that the level of academics, the quality of the faculty, and the available experiences offered to our children are some of MKA's strongest assets."