Strategic Planning—Finding our North Star

by Maura Joyce, Head of School | From the April 2019 issue of The Post

Strategic planning is a necessary process for most organizations, including schools. At Post Oak, the structure around it mirrors other independent schools, but takes on the culture of our school. Like other schools, strategic planning is the work of the Board of Trustees, whose primary role is focused on the future, and ensuring that the school is here, thriving, for your children’s children, that is, way into the future. Strategic planning has changed dramatically over time. In my previous school, during my early years as a head, I remember working on a five-year plan, executing it, and moving onto the next five-year plan. I soon learned how quickly the plan became outdated. We found ourselves working on the new plan in year four, then in year three, then in year two, until we realized that strategic planning is an ongoing cycle.

The Post Oak School’s last two strategic plans brought to life the vision of creating a high school program. A tremendous amount of energy and time went into the realization of that dream, and now the high school is well-established as part of our Post Oak program and identity. When I first came to Post Oak in 2016, I knew that it would be my task to work alongside the Board in identifying the next vision for the school. This time, I headed into the work knowing that strategic plans need to be more relevant to the times—that is, they need to be more like a GPS. Once we identify where we are going, we’ll need to find the best way to get there, knowing that an obstacle or better option could get in our way and we will need to try an alternate route. Twenty months ago, we began a process to engage the Board, administration, faculty, and staff to discuss our school values, identify a vision, create a strategy map, and articulate the behaviors and actions necessary to get there. This process took a lot longer than we expected as it was interrupted by Hurricane Harvey and our flooded Bissonnet Campus. The timeline was altered, but the engagement in the work was great. It allowed us to talk about where we are, what we want to improve, and how to head in the right direction.

In the coming weeks, we will share with you the vision statement and strategic summary which are the result of our work. The outline we will soon publish acts as our North Star, pointing us in the right direction, allowing us to follow our educational GPS coordinates and re-route ourselves when necessary to serve the needs of our students.

Although we are close to handing the community a finished product, the Board’s strategy work is just beginning. We continue to engage in strategic conversations about outcomes and communication, diversity and inclusion, the Houston Montessori Institute, community outreach, just to name a few. As we look to the future, we also take advantage of opportunities that help us realize our strategic goals. (See the opposite page for information about the new property.) The Board’s work is both vision-focused and grounded in the Post Oak mission. This means that every strategic decision we make centers on the best interest of the children and young adults we serve.

Museum District Campus Expansion

Post Oak is pleased to announce that we have acquired additional property in the Museum District through a purchase by friends of the school who have offered us a long-term lease. Across Autrey and adjacent to the eye center, we will be developing the parcel of land where three buildings currently sit (1013, 1103, 1105 Autrey Street). This will allow us to increase indoor and outdoor space for classes and athletics.

It’s an exciting development for Post Oak. The Campus Planning Committee of the Board has had several meetings, soliciting input from the Middle and High School teams about possible ideas for the space. Other improvements to the existing campus to maximize parking and classroom space are also being developed. Several parent volunteers have offered their expertise, and a project manager has been hired.

As we have more concrete details to report, we will keep you posted on this exciting project.