Dear Members of the Archmere Community:
The Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees, under the leadership of the Chair, Mrs. Vicky Yatzus, board member and Head of The Independence School, has initiated plans to move forward with a process to gather perspectives, data, and information over the next several months to develop the next goals and initiatives for the next planning cycle for Archmere. As we close the current five-year planning cycle, we can point to many accomplishments over the last five years in each of the five focus areas of the Strategic Plan 2012-2017.
Here is an executive summary of the Plan’s outcomes:
Goal: To articulate, promote, and live the mission of Archmere Academy
- Created through retreats, workshops, and conversations with various Archmere constituencies “core value words,” and developed new print and on-line materials and language that is more reflective of the Academy’s mission.
- Revised the Mission Statement of the Academy, making it shorter in length (three sentences), and therefore, more memorable. The Mission Statement, as well as the accompanying nine belief statements, are visible in the classrooms and hallways of Saint Norbert Hall and all other buildings on campus.
- Placed greater attention on liturgy preparation and worship through the creation of a Liturgical Music Ensemble, specific training opportunities in all liturgical ministries, planning meetings to develop prayer and workshop opportunities around the liturgical seasons and feast days of the year, as well as significant days in the history of Archmere, celebrated in prayer.
- Introduced daily “kenosis” at the start of each lunch period for all who wish to attend in the Oratory. It is a “pause” in the day of about 5 minutes or less for reflection of a phrase or two from the Gospel, followed by a one or two-minute reflection led by faculty or students.
- Developed a new Oratory worship space in Saint Norbert Hall, with icons and stained glass that reflect the mission and history of the Academy, used as teaching tools. Other areas of campus were identified as places of spiritual inspiration, for example, the student-produced glass-tiled wall adjacent to the newly-created Stations of the Cross in the garden between the Justin E. Diny Science Center and the Patio.
- Created a Norbertine Heritage Trip Program that connects the Archmere community with the Abbeys in Europe – France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic to date, with a 2018 summer program that will add Hungary to the list. The visits have created an international network and a resource for learning about Norbertine history and tradition.
- Created an Auk Recruiters program as part of the Admissions program, with students, parents, and alumni participating in “training” to be able to articulate uniformly and consistently the mission and values of Archmere.
- Developed an on-line admissions application process that provides families with a comprehensive introduction to the Archmere community, with a focus being the Academy’s Catholic, Norbertine charism that is notably welcoming and inclusive.
- Developed a consistent hiring process for new staff, such that a discussion of mission and history of the Academy are a key component in evaluating candidates.
- Modified the faculty and staff evaluation process to include discussions around living the mission of the Academy.
Goal: Hiring, retaining, and developing excellent teachers
- Working with the faculty and staff, developed a new evaluation rubric.
- Reviewed employee benefits and made adjustments that provided mutual benefits to the Academy and the employees in cost savings and cost containment. (Health care benefit increases have been kept at annual increases of approximately 5%.)
- Created a new compensation “salary banding model,” abandoning the rigid published salary scale based only on years of service and degrees earned.
- Maintained a low attrition rate for faculty.
- Expanded professional development resources to accommodate individual faculty members’ plans to obtain advanced degrees or certifications, as well as to attend workshops and conferences.
- Added professional development days to the calendar.
- Created a practice of faculty members’ visiting one another’s classes to generate conversation and ideas.
- Expanded technology resources and creative uses to enhance learning and communication, successfully implementing the 1:1 laptop program, with three all-school updates of new equipment in the last seven years.
Goal: Attract and advance motivated students
- Developed cross-curricular courses and projects.
- Introduced Mandarin as a world language option.
- Advanced wireless technology and laptop computer usage.
- Created a Culture Council of students to work with the student body on school culture and spirit.
- Maintained student enrollment (Delaware independent schools have seen a 19% decline in enrollment over the last 8 years, opposite Archmere’s growth from 478 students in 2009 to 503 in 2017).
- Enrolled consistently high –achieving students, based on students’ average test scores on the entrance exam. Other statistics support this trend, including Advanced Placement test scores, and other standardized assessments.
- Implemented the CWRA+ assessment to quantify students’ growth in critical thinking skills, supporting the positive anecdotal information reported by graduates about their preparedness for college and career.
- Initiated in collaboration with Saint Norbert College a summer leadership institute – The Saint Norbert Leadership Corps, now in its sixth year, with an average of 18 students attending each summer.
- Expanded college counseling staff and services to students, assisting with the college application process.
- Expanded the counseling services for students, addressing social and emotional issues as well as academic questions and diagnosed learning differences.
- Expanded transportation services for our students with the purchase of four vans that provide shuttle service daily and assist with athletic team transport.
Goal: Engage and involve alumni in the Archmere community
- Revised the by-laws of the Alumni Association and have made revisions in the committee structure to better support events and initiatives.
- Implemented data base software and programs to improve contact information on file for alumni, moving from an accuracy level of 27% to greater than 85% for good contact information, i.e., mailing address, email address, and/or phone.
- Initiated new programs including AukTalks and AuksConnect, which provide career networking opportunities.
- Established a reunion giving program, focused on the 50th anniversary reunion classes and building endowment for scholarships.
- Created an on-line alumni newsletter, Facebook page, and social media presence using Twitter and other social media outlets.
- Established the Norbert Award, recognizing personal achievement and/or service to Archmere among alumni.
- Created the Senior Class Pledge Program, with the members of each graduating class invited to make a five-year pledge toward a Class Gift for a special project that will carry the Class’ name.
- Initiated a Young Alumni Giving Society that affords younger alumni to be recognized for their philanthropic leadership in proportion to their means.
- Enhanced and expanded alumni events, generating larger attendance and more funds raised for the Academy.
- Committed to make an annual $30,000 contribution to Archmere, with $10,000 funding financial assistance grants to children of alumni, $10,000 to fund an Alumni Legacy Scholarship Fund, benefitting children of alumni, and a five-year, $10,000 commitment to support the renovations of Saint Norbert Hall.
Goal: Assess and articulate Archmere’s needs and priorities
- Implemented cost-saving programs, including energy savings through direct digital controls on all HVAC systems on campus, LED lighting with motion sensors, renegotiated contracts with third-party service providers and vendors, a review of the facility use policy and facilities rental fees, monthly departmental budget reports and management, preventive maintenance measures, and planned renovation projects.
- Enhanced fundraising programs, including planned giving, scholarship and endowment giving, Archmere Fund, and most recently a Comprehensive Campaign for Saint Norbert Hall renovations and endowment.
- Completed an $8.5 million renovation of Saint Norbert Hall.
- Completed renovations and preservation projects in the Patio, making use of a majority of the spaces on all floors of the building for offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, outside functions, and school events.
- Have in place a workplace safety program, which has resulted in costs insurance premiums.
- Developed a transportation program that has provided a valuable service to students, and thereby has assisted with admissions. The Archmere shuttles, with complete wraps, serve as a “moving billboards” for Archmere during prime drive times.