Strategic Plan (2023-2028)
In 2023, Woodstock Day School adopted a comprehensive and forward-looking strategic plan anchored around a 5-year shared vision.
The Vision 2028 section lays out that forward-looking view of WDS, and the Priorities and Objectives lay out the strategies we will employ to successfully achieve that vision.
Our Vision for 2028
WDS is an open-hearted and open-minded community that guides each student toward knowledgeable,
compassionate, and confident adulthood. Our dedicated and collaborative faculty embraces each child’s
strengths, helping students develop the academic and social-emotional skills they need to thrive.
We focus on the arc of a child’s total development—not just on the results of a single class, semester, or school year—building knowledge and skill, from nursery school through graduation from twelfth grade. We integrate our curriculum with a set of five Key Skills that guide learning at every grade level, and we offer several Signature Programs that showcase the benefits of our educational approach. As they grow, every WDS student learns to:
- Communicate effectively for purpose and audience.
- Explore a diverse range of resources and experiences to fuel curiosity and uncover meaning.
- Demonstrate agency through self-guidance, self-discipline, and self-assessment in learning.
- Evaluate information using analysis, evidence, and reason.
- Create work that is original and meaningful.
The small size of our Upper School allows us to deliver a unique and powerful program based in experiential learning and independent study. Our Upper School students are exemplary, and they graduate from WDS well-prepared for their choice of college or career.
A renewed campus home supports our learning activities and facilitates an operations model that is human centered, sensible, and straightforward—and we strive to prioritize environmental sustainability in our decision-making. As a community, we seek continuous improvement and greater organizational alignment in our teaching, in our daily practices, and in our long-term planning. WDS benefits from a Board of Trustees that embraces best practices to bolster school leadership, promote financial sustainability, and fuel the advancement of WDS.
Priorities and Objectives
Investing in Our People
At WDS, we know that teachers—and the individualized, personal attention they provide WDS students and families—are the heart of our school. WDS will continue to invest in its people, in order to attract, retain, and develop excellent faculty, staff, and administration. As part of this effort, we will:
- Strive to provide competitive compensation and benefits for all WDS employees.
- Expand resources for employee professional development.
- Improve organizational alignment, clarifying employee goals, roles, and decision-making authority.
- Foster a forward-looking employee culture that emphasizes current strengths and future opportunities.
- Improve Board governance structures and practices, in support of school leadership.
Aligning our Academic Program
Recognizing that families value WDS as a formative environment where students spend more than a decade of their lives, we will continue to sequence and connect our program across grade levels, fostering vertical alignment through emphasis on the school’s Core Values and Key Skills. As part of this effort, we will:
- Develop a WDS Educational Philosophy statement that links Mission, Core Values, Key Skills, and WDS’s distinctive approach to pedagogy.
- Unite WDS faculty around a well-planned, vertically-aligned curriculum, while fueling excellence and fostering joy in teaching and learning.
- Ensure that teachers foster the WDS Key Skills in their pedagogy and lesson planning.
- Increase academic rigor while also developing our students’ intrinsic motivation for lifelong learning.
- Raise expectations for students to practice and demonstrate their learning at school and at home.
- Adjust assessment and grading practices to support the WDS Educational Philosophy.
- Emphasize and promote the development of student Portfolios at every grade level.
Building Signature Programs
WDS is uniquely positioned to prepare students for knowledgeable, competent, compassionate leadership. We will extend our leadership by investing in distinctive programs and powerful opportunities within the WDS experience. As part of this effort, we will:
- Fortify existing programs like Media Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, Intensives, and Residencies, and showcase these programs as hallmarks of the WDS experience.
- Consider the opportunity to reorganize some academic programs (e.g. Spanish, Math, Collegian programs) so that students can advance their skills, no matter their age or grade-year.
- Pursue environmental sustainability education through school-wide co-curricular and extra-curricular programs that leverage campus assets like the garden, pond, trails, and woods.
Building a Unique Upper School Based in the Strengths of WDS
We will align the Upper School with the WDS Educational Philosophy by using the school’s small size as a strength and examining the central principles of the program. As part of this effort, we will:
- Realign the WDS Upper School program around experiential learning, problem/project-based learning, independent study, and communications—building students’ skillfulness, maturity, and critical thinking abilities in pursuit of Deeper Learning.
- Emphasize facets of the Upper School program that are similar to college or professional experiences that students might have after they graduate. Highlight a greater sense of student agency—and the ability to relate to teachers as mentors.
- Improve communications around the school’s SUNY Ulster/Collegian partnerships.
- Market the high school program as unique and academically rigorous; attract students based the promise of a community built on identity formation, choice, and self-determination—where everyone belongs.
- Adjust high school structures and resources to support this new model.
Enrolling a Full Community of Learners
To pursue our mission in an increasingly costly and competitive environment, we must sculpt a strong learning community and operate the school at an efficient scale. As part of this effort to expand our marketing and recruiting activities, we will:
- Articulate a clear, customer-oriented value proposition that emphasizes WDS’ distinctive pedagogy and program elements, including its Key Skills, vertically-aligned curriculum, Signature Programs, and unique Upper School program.
- Build more diverse and intentional summer and after-school programs designed as incubators and “trials” to attract full-year students.
- Add a Director of Admission to lead recruitment efforts.
- Prioritize recruitment for nursery-school through eighth grade—and prioritize retention for the middle and upper school.
- Increase resources to support crisp, contemporary, well-designed, and cost-effective marketing communications that drive increased enrollment while maintaining standards for admission.
Maintaining a Campus that Fuels our Program
WDS needs a campus that supports its program, that provides a comfortable and attractive place to learn and work, and that fosters safety, security, and efficiency. We must address campus planning, deferred maintenance, and facilities needs. As part of this effort, we will:
- Create a prioritized Campus Plan for additions and upgrades.
- Assess, realign, and improve campus space and resources around key priorities.
- Consider climate change, environmental sustainability, and financial sustainability priorities in campus planning.