The Baby and the Bathwater

So this year we’ve embarked on a really exciting strategic planning initiative, which will guide our journey as a school over the next several years. In my opinion, we’ve had a wonderful start in many ways, and we’ve managed to engage all stakeholders in the process. We’ve purposely worked really hard to engage our entire community over the last five months or so, and most importantly, we’ve gone out of our way to give our students a strong voice, as it’s ultimately all about them and their learning. The one thing that I’m really proud of however, is our attempt to not forget about our foundation and core beliefs as a school…the things that we are currently doing really, really well. Often times in strategic planning, there is such an excitement and desire to change that schools forget about all the things that have made them successful in the first place. It reminds me of that old idiom, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”, because if not done correctly, schools can lurch so hard in a new direction that they end up losing who they are in the process.
A good strategic planning process is an incredible opportunity for a school. It allows you to audit current practices, to review your mission and vision, and it inspires a community to carve out a direction for the future…all very exciting. Now that we’re pretty deep into the process, it’s thrilling to see a few themes starting to bubble up that are common across our community. It feels good to know that we’re all collectively invested in a few areas that will allow us to become an even better school for our students and for our world. It’s also been super interesting for me, particularly since I’m relatively new to the school, to learn all about the history and the fascinating stories that shaped who we currently are…that to me is such an important part to all of this, recognizing and celebrating the work, the passion, and the people who have given our school such a strong foundation. It’s been a validating experience as well, for all of us to review the initiatives that were implemented during our last strategic plan, and to know that many of them have been truly embedded into the fabric of our current day to day practice.
I am really proud to be part of a team that is so grounded in getting this right…committed to not going too quickly, thoughtful about including every voice, diligent in doing the appropriate research, and careful to value the history and the people that have delivered us to this point. I remember one of our first admin sessions at the beginning of the year, where we all had a chance to share our visions for a blue sky future of ASP, and it was Brian Brazeau, our outstanding Deputy Director of Upper School, who in the midst of all of our frenzied excitement to change, reminded us all to not forget about all that is beautiful about our school currently…thank you Brian, you were right. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and the desire for change in a process like this that you can alienate, divide, and fragment who you are as a community. Schools make this mistake all the time, and simply go from initiative to initiative, and from plan to plan without ever honoring or setting a foundation from which to jump.
So, with all that said, I want to thank everyone in our community, particularly the educators who have been here for more than a couple of these strategic plans, for setting such a strong foundation for us to be able to do this work. We are truly a great school, and we’re poised to become even better as we set our goals and plans for the future. It’s an honor to work here and be a part of the process. We’ll throw out the bathwater and keep the baby so to speak, and end up in a place that is anchored in community, student learning, and in creating a better world for everyone. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…
People don’t resist change, they resist being changed!
–  Peter Senge
TED Talk – Patty McCord
Inspiring Videos-

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About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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One Response to The Baby and the Bathwater

  1. Patricia Londono says:

    Dan this sounds stimulating; so much excitement about learning. The kind of learning community where you can grow and contribute ! Excellent point about not discarding the wealth of experiences that have proven to be effective and constructive. Congratulations and much success!!!

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