An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Carey Crutcher Smith ’77, chair of Lakeside’s Board of Trustees

Lakeside’s Board of Trustees recently engaged in a two-part visioning exercise designed to help us reflect on the school’s future given the considerable impacts of the pandemic on the world of education. The purpose of this timely discussion was to develop trustees’ skills around visioning and help shape decision making around potential future strategic initiatives. It was also designed to help trustees prepare for upcoming transitions, including selecting and onboarding Lakeside’s next head of school.

The visioning process started in December. Board member Michael Nachbar, executive director of Global Online Academy, facilitated our first session. We called it “Looking Back,” and trustees reviewed various chapters of Lakeside’s 100-year history and talked about themes, trends, and outside forces (in the world, the country, and Seattle) that shaped the school’s program and purpose. Lakeside archivist Leslie Schuyler shared stories about noteworthy leaders and students at the school and photos that highlighted issues and culture of the times.

After that first session, trustees read two texts suggested by Head of School Bernie Noe: “The Coming Disruption” featuring the predictions of Scott Galloway and the World Economic Forum’s “2020 Future of Jobs Report.” Both texts made forecasts about the future of education and potential disruptions due to the pandemic and the acceleration of several trends including partnerships between tech companies and universities and people moving away from bricks and mortar experiences.

Our second session, held last month, was facilitated by Kawai Lai, a designer and professional facilitator serving schools and nonprofits focused on strategic planning, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is a founding member of Living Strategy, a firm partnering with K-12 school leaders in planning for the future, and she formerly served as vice president of innovation at the National Association of Independent Schools.

Kawai kicked off the session with a grounding exercise around the Lakeside mission: Each board member shared a word from the mission statement that represented a meaningful experience for them. Then in small breakout groups we used the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) tool to analyze and discuss how future trends and market pressures might affect Lakeside’s future. We brainstormed key themes for a potential future vision and discussed why those themes were important to each individual. Hearing from each of the trustees about what they found compelling about Lakeside’s mission, and how they envisioned the future of the school was a powerful experience and helped all of us imagine different possibilities.

After that second session, Kawai analyzed the feedback from the day and created a draft vision story that summarized our themes. The top priorities were very consistent with Lakeside’s current direction. Later this spring, the board will review and discuss the draft as we consider plans for the years ahead and our work with a new head of school.

Carey Crutcher Smith ’77 is the chair of Lakeside’s Board of Trustees. Learn more about the board and find contact information here.