From the Head of School
At Eagle Hill, we continuously reach for excellence in all we do. The reality, however, is that excellence is not an end point or product; rather, it is a process with no end. We are proud of our accomplishments with our students and yet we are always seeking ways to better address their learning needs.
As a faculty, we know that we must be learners ourselves. The first step is devoting every Friday afternoon to professional development, honing our skills and coordinating our efforts. We seek conferences, workshops, and courses that can provide us with new ideas and strategies to strengthen our craft. We are committed to setting challenging goals as educators and setting high expectations for our students. In addition, we know how important it is to provide opportunities for our parents to learn and support one another, as they will always be their child's most important advocate.
It would be easy for a school such as ours, highly respected in the field of education for children with learning disabilities, to rest on its laurels, but there is no time for that. Since our program is a transitional one with most students staying two to five years, there is a sense of urgency in our work. We have only a limited time to address the learning challenges of our students. We want to know that we are using the most effective research-based approaches to meeting our students' needs.
We also need to look to the future to assure that our school remains strong and can sustain itself well into the future. For this reason, the Board of Trustees decided to undertake a major study of our school this year. We invited the Gowan Group, educational consultants from Westport, CT, to bring in a team to complete an in-depth and comprehensive study of how our school is performing, and how we could strengthen and grow our impact in the years to come. We asked them to look at our educational program, administrative structure, financial status, admissions, tuition, communications/marketing, the boarding program, summer programs, the governance structure, and opportunities for expanding our reach.
Though not limiting them to any one area, we posed five questions:
1. What outside forces are affecting the number and timing of applications EHS receives each year?
2. Are there potential new income streams that could bolster the EHS budget?
3. Could tuition be stabilized or even reduced without affecting the quality of our program?
4. Could the EHS school model be replicated in another country?
5. What does research say about potential branding and marketing for EHS?
We are in the research and discovery phase of this study. Our consultants have held faculty, administrator, parent, and trustee focus groups to reveal common themes that challenge our school. These have been followed by surveys customized to parent, faculty, and trustee concerns. Our consultants have been visiting classes to observe our program in action and conducting individual interviews with school leaders. We have provided them with extensive written information about our school, including enrollment records; budgets for the last five years; annual fund records; curriculum guides; faculty and student/parent handbooks; secondary school placement records; a facilities audit; tuition history; and a campus master plan.
It is our hope that we will learn a great deal from their comprehensive program study, as well as the competitive analysis of our school with those of a similar nature. We believe that the results of this study can inform our next strategic plan, guiding our school into the future and assuring that it can continue to offer children the life-changing experience that so many currently experience. We are not satisfied with the status quo. We want to ensure that we become even better at what we do. Just as we are dedicated to the success of our present students, we are committed to finding ways to assure that our school continues to do this important work effectively and efficiently, long past the years that we will serve as members of the faculty and staff of this amazing school!
Dr. Marjorie E. Castro
Note: Stay tuned ... In the fall, we plan to share the results of the study with you, and our plans to respond to it.