Strategic Plan update
We couldn't be more thrilled to announce that this June the Board of Trustees enthusiastically approved Westtown's new strategic plan, "The World Needs More Westonians." Our community has spent two years developing, refining, and pursuing this plan. We're humbled by and grateful for the wide array of Westonians who have contributed so wisely to this plan. The more time I spend with it, the more voices I hear in its words, from alumni to faculty and from members of the Board to members of our parent communities. I'm also taken by the courage and intellectual honesty within the plan. As you'll read in the excerpt from the introduction below, we are clear-eyed about the environment Westtown is in at this moment and just as clear about why we need to forward a bold vision for Westtown's next great era. I hope you find our vision to be compelling and worthy of your love of our great school. Just as importantly, I hope you find yourself in this plan. After all, when we say the world needs more Westonians, we're talking about you.
Head of School
Excerpt from the introduction to The World Needs More Westonians.
Our Mission: Guided by the essential Quaker calling to seek out and honor that of God in each of us, Westtown School challenges its students to realize their individual gifts while learning and living together in a diverse community. Westtown inspires and prepares its graduates to be stewards and leaders of a better world.
Since its founding by Quakers in 1799, Westtown School has been dedicated to providing a sound education based on spiritual values of integrity, mutual reverence among people, and the communal pursuit of truth. Originally planned for Quaker children of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Westtown now serves students of diverse background and religion who hail from all parts of the globe. Westtown has long been guided by the understanding that we can remain faithful to and guided by the fundamental values of the school while opening ourselves to understand the ways and needs of others.
The school and the Board are united in the belief that the world itself is the community that we now serve and that our contributions to this world are needed more urgently with each passing day.
Technological developments in communication and ease of travel mean that students in southeast Pennsylvania are connected with people and communities throughout our increasingly complicated world. Our students, teachers, and alumni are engaged in pursuits to bring innovation, justice, peace, conflict resolution, and community building to regions far removed from the school.
To fulfill this mission today and in the immediate future, the school and the Board have formulated five strategic imperatives to address one overarching goal. These commitments build on the successful completion of many of the objectives of the 2006 strategic plan. For many institutions, including Westtown, the economic collapse of 2008 interrupted the orderly implementation of such plans. Since 2008, Westtown’s enrollment has declined steadily, and the school has responded with several courageous and difficult moves including moderating tuition increases, expanding financial aid resources, cutting costs including contributions to employee retirement funds, reducing the workforce, freezing salary increases for a year, as well as modifying the boarding requirement, and building the new science center.
While the 2008 economic collapse felt like a momentous disruption, in many ways it simply served to reveal fault lines in the independent school landscape that have been shifting quietly over the last decades. It is clear now that our economic model relies on increasingly volatile funding streams and market demand. The cost increases outpace inflation. Families have more options than ever. Technology alters possibilities and expectations. Demographic shifts shrink the pool of potential students. In concert, these shifts lead to a time of great uncertainty and indeed skepticism about the value of an independent school education including Westtown’s.
And yet, it is clearer than ever that a deliberate, progressive independent school like Westtown will be able to provide a service and value that other schools simply will not be able to provide. Many schools lack Westtown’s core values, tradition, and bold vision and as such will not be able to respond to the new day deliberately and with discipline. Westtown will because this is what we are. The stakes are too high and our history is too rich for us to miss this urgent call to action.
Westtown offers a rare education that prepares students for lives of purpose, success, and conscience. Our academic program continues to evolve and innovate while we sustain and deepen our culture that values attributes that our society desperately needs – reflection, action, and attention in a world of busy-ness and strife. Today we are poised to move forward towards a robust future for a flourishing Westtown that lives up to its principles.
The overarching vision that guides our work is this:
Because we are uniquely qualified to do so and because the world urgently needs us to, Westtown will become a recognized leader in developing the next generation of globally aware, scientifically literate, spiritually grounded, and ethically responsible leaders and stewards of a better world.
This bold vision builds on Westtown’s historic mission and strong academic program while adding a new emphasis on becoming a “recognized leader.” While it may feel uncharacteristic to overcome our tendency to “hide our Light under a bushel,” it is an essential step to fulfilling our historic and critical mission. A Quaker vision of the world impels us to be of use and of service, and to do that work effectively, we must also be seen and understood. We will set Westtown’s unique approaches on the national stage, and as a result, we will reach families who desire our progressive program and attract the resources to sustain it.
There is no greater expression of our Quaker heritage and our school’s mission than to create more Westonians who will be agents of good in a world that sorely needs them.