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The Ripple E ect
How the new FIS Strategic Plan prepares our children in an ever-changing world
This past fall the Board of Trustees approved a new Strategic Plan to help FIS ful ll its mission for the next three years. The planning process started in the spring of 2015 when Paul Fochtman, Head of School, introduced to all divisions the so-called “Blue Ocean Strategy” as a tactic to inspire fresh thinking about the best way, going forward, for the school to continue providing an environment that forms strong, principled, successful individuals at FIS and beyond.
When I went to interview Dr. Fochtman about the new strategy, I had a “Big Question” in mind: how can we as parents and educators alike prepare our children to be strong, principled, successful adult humans in a future that is so uncertain?
The school’s mission states that “FIS inspires students to become socially responsible, internationally-minded citizens,” and the Strategic Plan aims to “enable student success at FIS and beyond.” But this “beyond” comes from a world experiencing massive and global disruptions, with very di erent – and even con icting – levels of economic growth, cultural and governance values. So how does FIS enable future success for those with di erent ideas of best practices and values?
“We want all of our students to be excellent wherever they go, regardless of their views of excellence,” Dr. Fochtman answered. “And we have a new focus on balance to help us support the whole child. Our students consistently achieve above average International Baccalaureate (IB) and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scores, but we want to make sure they can do that and be in a school drama production, play sports, or support a civic service outside of school at the same time. We want to give each student the opportunity to succeed academically and develop their whole person – to feel safe and well supported, and to
become excellent people that go out into the world and create a ripple e ect, people who ‘pay it forward.’”
The answer encapsulated the three strands of the new FIS Strategic Plan: Excellence, Opportunity and Balance. In other words, great results, great characters, a great environment to develop that – and great timing, too. FIS can develop a comprehensive growth strategy at a time when it’s critically needed. “My predecessor, Mark Ulfers, laid out the enabling groundwork with a clear mission statement and strategic plans that made that mission viable: curriculum, facilities,  nances, and more,” Dr. Fochtman o ers. “So now we can identify growth opportunities through the lens of the whole child. We can ask ourselves, ‘If it doesn’t impact teaching-learning with the child at the center, why do it?’ Academic excellence, going forward, is achieved by nurturing the whole child. Our FIS Board conversations have become more pedagogical, and we accept the need to address intangibles that can’t be really measured, like kindness and balance.”
FIS will continue to use typical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as IB and MAP results, parent satisfaction surveys, college admissions,  nancial and other metrics. But these alone do not assess the e ectiveness of a growth strategy centered in the whole child. Thus, the Board of Trustees has tasked Assistant Head of School Devin Pratt, and parent Board members Lizette Chapa and Erin Schumann, with de ning a set of indicators that will measure the intangible elements of the educational process that are at the heart of the FIS growth strategy.
Ms. Chapa, who heads the task force, reveals: “International mindedness, character development and social responsibility are some of the intangibles that we will work on. We will research, identify and analyze evidence that can
8 FIS World February 2017

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