Francis Parker School will be poised on the threshold of its second century of educating young people when it has implemented this five-year 2006 Strategic Plan.
The plan is student-centered, acknowledging that a superior college-preparatory education casts rigorous curricula in a context that not only supports each student’s personal growth and well-being but also balances emerging self-awareness with appreciation for diverse viewpoints and peoples.
The innovations of the 1912 Parker have become the traditions of 21st century Parker. In implementing this Strategic Plan, Francis Parker School strives to renew its historic position as an innovator in education and to establish itself as a nationally recognized academic institution.
Parker's founders sought a school that would exemplify the finest educational practices, becoming a learning laboratory for its students and a model to improve the education of all children. The school will approach its second century recommitted to the pursuit of invigorating, exemplary programs blending tradition and innovation, in which students and faculty nurture passions for learning and for challenge.
Goal 1: Ensure that Francis Parker School offers each student a superior education, one that inspires excellence in academics, athletics and arts.
- Evaluate the program comprehensively, developing new measures and fully utilizing such existing components as the recommendations of the re-accreditation process.
- Review and evaluate the appropriate enrollment, class size, student-teacher ratios and teaching loads in order to optimize the educational program.
- Reevaluate the school’s foreign language offerings. In particular, consider the expansion of Spanish as a foreign language in the Lower School, and the addition of a non-western language in the Middle and Upper School.
- Assess and expand summer and other potential intersession programs to meet the needs of current and prospective students.
- Provide appropriate technology for teaching and learning as determined by ongoing assessments, including the 2006 Audit and Technology Plan.
- Explore opportunities to build partnerships with local universities.
To Colonel Francis W. Parker, teachers advanced the pursuit of educational ideals through “ever-changing, ever-improving” methods. Today, teachers remain the School’s greatest single resource. In its pursuit of academic excellence, the School will commit itself to ensure that the faculty is of the highest caliber.
Goal 2: Attract, retain, and develop an exceptional faculty, administration, and staff.
- Review the compensation plan to ensure that salaries and benefits are adequate to attract exceptional faculty and staff.
- Increase funding for professional growth and development.
- Review and enhance the faculty, staff, and administrative assessment and development process to ensure that all teachers maintain the highest standards of professional excellence.
- Enhance strategies for attracting an increasingly diverse pool of leading candidates.
- Recognize, reward, and celebrate outstanding faculty, and enhance internal leadership opportunities.
At its founding, Parker adopted John Dewey’s principle that school is not a preparation for life, but life itself. Today's program encompasses opportunities for development in life skills. The school challenges itself to enhance students' healthy development and maximize their problem-solving and decision-making capabilities so that they can make effective, satisfying, and fulfilling life choices.
Goal 3: Develop in Parker students the skills for a healthy, balanced life.
- Review current policies pertaining to students to determine what impact they have on student well-being.
- Enhance and coordinate school-wide curriculum that promotes ethical development and encourages informed decision-making.
- Teach students how to recognize and deal with stress by developing healthy habits, including nutrition, balance, rest, problem solving and reflection.
- Teach leadership skills and expand innovative opportunities for students to exercise leadership.
- Provide appropriate counseling, student support services, advisor training, and increased opportunities for parent education. In particular, consider appointing a counselor dedicated to the Middle School to support the wellness program and enhance the existing advisory program.
- Establish and periodically review guidelines for health and nutrition.
In designing the original Mission Hills campus, Parker's founders blended architecture with the school's educational objectives, creating a central courtyard to facilitate communication. The current master plan echoes the educational program's emphasis on collaboration, creating unique, environmentally compatible spaces where students can thrive.
Goal 4: Provide and maintain first-rate facilities that meet our current and future needs.
- Complete the facilities called for in the Master Plan (Library, Middle School science labs and classrooms, Student Leadership, Music and Arts,).
- Review design elements and programmatic needs of the remaining phases of the Master Plan.
- Develop a plan to address future facilities needs on both Mission Hills and Linda Vista campuses.
Parker’s founders encouraged dialogue to probe issues facing the burgeoning school community. Current trustees and administrators continue to model collaborative leadership, embracing divergent ideas in building consensus regarding school-wide objectives. Long-range planning, developing and implementing policy, and raising funds and managing finance are among the challenges confronting today’s leaders. Communication with the entire Parker community informs their work.
Goal 5: Cultivate mission-driven and strategic practices in governance, leadership, and management.
- Create a school-wide vision statement.
- Review the mission statement and consider potential revisions.
- Create metrics, and collect data, comparing Francis Parker School to appropriate peer schools, so that the school is better able to evaluate the approach to its core issues.
- Increase community awareness of Board operations, including the guidelines for determining Board composition.
- Establish and implement a professional, comprehensive, and unified communication and marketing plan.
- Conduct a survey of the Parker constituencies every two to three years in order to provide for meaningful communication within the Parker community.
Prudent financial management sustained Parker’s survival through the international upheavals of its first century. The School’s continued fiscal health demands equally astute financial planning and oversight. Vigilant management of resources, matched with broad-based community commitment to School philanthropy at the highest possible level, will help the School remain accessible and affordable to Parker families, while fulfilling its mission for students.
Goal 6: Strengthen the School's financial foundation by building endowment and acquiring needed capital and operational funds.
- Raise sufficient funds to complete all phases of the Master Plan and significantly increase the endowment.
- Increase parent participation in the Parker Fund to meet or exceed our peer groups, and double the alumni and grandparent participation.
- Double the membership in the Legacy Society.
- While attempting to remain accessible to all families, set tuition at the level necessary to support the school’s goals, including providing competitive faculty compensation and making appropriate investments in the educational program.
Colonel Francis Parker saw “the school as a transition from family life to living as a responsible, effective member of a larger community.” The Parker of today embraces diverse cultural, racial, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds in an enriched school community.
Goal 7: Foster a more inclusive community.
- Develop strategies to increase involvement among alumni, grandparents, and parents of alumni in the life of the School.
- Review out-of-school programs with respect to their educational appropriateness and cost, and establish limited funding to support accessibility.
- Increase applications for admission, with special attention to communities in San Diego County that are under-represented at Parker.
- Evaluate policies and practices in financial aid and increase funding at a rate that equals or exceeds future tuition increases.
- Increase opportunities for community relations, multicultural awareness and global citizenship.
- Update and implement our current statement on diversity.
In a 1929 statement of priorities for Francis Parker School, principal Ethel Sturges Dummer Mintzer wrote, “The purpose of the school, in a broad sense, is to…evolve…an education which teaches pupils to think and to solve problems by their own initiative….”
The purpose of a Parker education early in the following century is essentially the same. Parker teachers, and the rich and demanding Parker curriculum, stimulate creative, critical, and independent thinking in young people who are learning to live in an increasingly complex world without borders, and developing the confidence and the humanity necessary to live meaningful, fulfilling lives.
In implementing this Strategic Plan, Francis Parker School will stimulate student programs, school leadership, and facilities enhancements, creating a flexible fiscal dynamic to advance its objectives.
The commitment to support students inspires every objective, as it has since Parker's 1912 founding. Parker will move forward fueled by its traditional progressive spirit and inspired by students who distinguish themselves and their school.
(Historical notes with permission of Ethel Mintzer Lichtman, author of “The Zest for Learning: Founding and Early Years of Francis Parker School.” The Journal of San Diego History, Summer, 1993; Volume 39, Number 3.)