Every so often, we need a little help from our friends. The Beatles knew it first, then Joe Cocker took it to No. 1 on the charts, and then more than 50 other singers have covered the song. Here at BFS, we need help from our friends to partner on planning for our future. As a Quaker school, we would have it no other way.
This past September, Brooklyn Friends School held its first meeting of the Strategic Planning Team, which was held under the facilitation of Leadership + Design, our carefully selected partnering firm, which will guide the school with their experience, energy, and excitement.
“As a member of the Friends Council on Education’s board and someone who has worked in Friends education for almost 20 years, I am thrilled to be part of the Leadership + Design team working with BFS,” said Shu Shu Costa, who along with L+D Executive Director Carla Silver, have teamed up to work with BFS. “The school has a long and storied history of being a warm and welcoming place for a diverse community, a place where both the mind and the heart are inspired. I think of BFS as a bright light shining out from the NYC area. I am so excited to be a part of its future.”
That 20-person Team is charged with the process of dreaming about our school’s future, gathering the lived experiences and needs that are present in our school today, and building concept and compass maps to strategic initiatives that represent the most desirable, viable, and worthy possibilities for our school. Each person on the Team brings a breadth and depth of representation that is indeed as diverse as our BFS Community. They include parents of current BFS students and graduates; colleagues who teach in each division and who support and lead the efforts of our students and teachers; mentors, leaders, thinkers, scholars; and trustees, experts, activists, and dreamers. Some are new to BFS and some have long histories with this community. We have as many identities represented as we do areas of expertise.
“Crissy and her team have done a wonderful job gathering dedicated and thoughtful people from so many different parts of the BFS community—colleagues, parents, and board members,” Shu Shu said. “Each one brings a unique perspective, each one adds gifts and skills to help us collectively imagine a future for BFS.”
The launch and subsequent meetings have included discussions, reflections, and explanations of the process. Nearly 100 people in our community by now have been interviewed, taking a deep dive into our students, colleagues, alums, and families. Those interviews and the data they yielded have been poured over, dissected, and put into action. There have been think tanks for our families and our colleagues, and more interactive partnerships are on the horizon.
“In Quaker fashion, members of the strategic planning team listened openly and carefully to what people said—their hopes and their concerns,” Shu Shu said. “Right now, we are at an exciting stage of more deeply researching some areas of inquiry and interest that have emerged from our interviews.”
Perhaps the biggest event of all will be held on Saturday, January 21, when Brooklyn Friends will host an all-important Community Design Day where family members, alumni, as well as our current students and colleagues will be invited to dream and design. You can RSVP to the event here!
“Along the way we invite as many people as possible to join the journey, knowing that multiple perspectives and truths will produce a stronger, more innovative plan,” Shu Shu said.
To that end, Crissy looks forward to having many members of the BFS community as a part of the special day. “There needs to be a robust showing of our community,” she said, “for what should be a very vibrant design thinking day.”
In less than one year from now, BFS will be living what we are now planning. A big lift—and one with unlimited possibilities.
“At L+D, we talk about strategic plans being compasses not maps. A lot will shift in 5-10 years, but if we have a compass, we can keep driving toward our goals no matter how the road signs change,” Shu Shu said. “We also engage the strategic planning team in some futurist thinking, lifting our heads from 2022 and taking a look at what experts are thinking about the future of education, the future of the workplace, the future of our environment, etc. This kind of exploration helps us put our ideas and initiatives into a broader context. It also exercises our futurist muscles, the ones that help us envision future trends or events, and keep us nimble and hopeful as we respond to changing circumstances. A strategic plan isn’t a crystal ball. But together, we can create a plan that not only provides a call to action for the next 5 to 10 years, but also strengthens the community, builds capacity across constituencies, invites all voices, and keeps the BFS mission as true north.”
Brett Topel is the Director of Communications and Marketing at BFS.