Character-based leadership and creative problem-solving are at the forefront of a strategic plan revealed Sunday at The Summit Country Day School in Hyde Park.
Head of School Rich Wilson announced the initiatives during the “Summit Summit,” a meeting exclusively for the school community in which he and other administrators gave a State of the School address and offered a vision of the school’s future state.
Wilson reviewed the financial results from the previous year noting endowment growth to $35 million and unrestricted Annual Fund for Excellence growth of 11%. “We are financially strong,” Wilson said. “The unwavering support from school believers coupled with fiscal prudence has ensured a future that supports the hiring and ongoing professional development of a highly trained faculty teaching a rigorous curriculum that outpaces national standards.”
Although Sunday was the first public reveal of the strategic initiative, the Summit’s Board of Trustees and a wide cross section of the community have been researching, planning and implementing the strategies over the past two years.
The two academic planks – character-based leadership and creative problem-solving –are the highlights of a five-plank strategic plan that also includes enhancing the school’s value proposition, sharpening the business model and building a culture of philanthropy.
“It’s very clear that things are changing rapidly,” Wilson said. “We really needed to step back and look at what skills these children are going to need because their time horizon is the balance of this century.
“The research we conducted among those hiring college graduates indicated the need for more leaders of character and better problem solvers,” he continued. “The approach we’re taking will give Summit graduates an advantage in college admissions and beyond.”
At the “Summit Summit,” Dr. Kirstin McEachern, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, spoke more specifically about the objectives of the two educational planks of the strategy.
“There are several elements of the character-based leadership program,” she said. “We will continue with our nationally recognized character education program, social skills program, and diversity and inclusion standards which the best leaders recognize as key elements in making the best decisions without bias. Among the teaching standards we’re adopting, we’ll be working on encouraging children to have a growth mindset, become better listeners, and learn conflict resolution skills. When they graduate, we want them to view themselves as changemakers and peacemakers that Christ calls all of us to be.
“Great leaders are also creative problem solvers,” she continued. “Children will be developing a tolerance for ambiguity, learning the importance of perseverance (failure isn’t a disaster, it’s an opportunity to learn), employing multiple idea-creation techniques, collaborating effectively (being comfortable working with people from different cultures and backgrounds), making connections, knowing and using a deliberate design process, demonstrating originality and inventiveness, calculating when is taking a risk warranted and when is it not, and most important of all being reflective (what have I learned, and how do I apply that going forward).”
Dr. McEachern noted that parents will start seeing these skills being taught to their children as this school year progresses with more lessons coming on stream in the following years.
The Summit is an independent, co-educational, college-preparatory school which serves children age 18 months through grade 12. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the school maintains its affiliation with the Catholic Church through the Sisters, although it has been governed by an independent board since 1984. Summit is the only Catholic school in Cincinnati accredited by the prestigious Independent Schools Association of the Central States and recently was again recognized by Niche.com as the best Catholic high school in the State of Ohio.