As families prepare to return to school this fall, Lakeside administrators, faculty, and staff are working together behind the scenes to re-envision what a Lakeside School education will be in the next ten years and beyond. As we move forward with this re-envisioning, we’ll share regular updates with members of the school community, highlight upcoming milestones, and point out where to learn more.
Defining the re-envisioning
In brief, Lakeside’s re-envisioning encompasses a set of projects exploring new ways to answer the question: Within the framework of Lakeside’s mission and values, how do we teach students to make good decisions and act on them?
The projects include examining what students will learn through the overall educational program (the content, mindsets, competencies, and skills); the structure of the program itself (the length and organization of the academic year and school day); other special programs we don’t currently offer (internships, intensives, etc.); and the possibility of growing the size of the school. Of core importance is the fact that all pieces of the re-envisioning are tied to Lakeside’s mission and the school’s focus on academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, ethical behavior, and global citizenship. “We are in no way changing the mission of the school,” says Head of School Bernie Noe.
He sums up the purpose of the re-envisioning as both simple and complex: “Our goal is to do what Lakeside has done so well for 100 years: Prepare our students to live joyful lives of meaning and service in the world they find when they graduate.”
The world is currently experiencing the greatest period of change in two centuries as the result of globalization and technological advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and other applications of information. The McKinsey Global Institute report, "Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works," cited that half the jobs that currently exist in the United States will be automated by 2055, and this could happen as early as 2035, depending on the speed of technological breakthroughs and other variables. “This will lead to what many are now calling the fourth industrial revolution,” Noe wrote to parents and guardians in January 2019. “This is possibly the greatest change in the workplace since the first industrial revolution in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when millions left their farms to move to the new industrial centers.”
As this massive worldwide shift occurs, it will affect how Lakeside students of today and future years live, work, and play. “There is no ignoring this,” stresses Noe. “If you’re not moving forward, you’re actually going backwards. The world goes on; you either go with it or it goes by you.” Of concern is that some of the careers and industries that Lakeside students pursue – including medicine and law – are likely to be highly affected by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Imagining the future of Lakeside students and Lakeside School, Noe and his colleagues are hopeful. The school is approaching change from a position of strength, with motivated students, dedicated teachers, located in a growing city, and with a strong endowment. “Lakeside kids will be okay because if we do this re-envisioning well, they will have tremendous agency in this world,” he says. “As an educator, what excites me is preparing students for the world they’ll find and not clinging to outdated methodologies and traditions.”
Lakeside’s centennial – which the school celebrates this year – provides an ideal opportunity to examine how the school has changed over time. Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Felicia Wilks remarks, “In one sense, this is a continuation of a tradition at Lakeside: looking at what we are doing and whether that is meeting the needs of students …. Our willingness to engage with new ideas has led to much of Lakeside’s success. [The re-envisioning] will allow us to celebrate the success of our past and to continue the school’s legacy of excellence for many years to come.”
Today’s students are the priority
While decisions and changes related to the re-envisioning will roll out slowly over a period of years, Wilks and Middle School Director Elaine Christensen are also overseeing changes taking place in this current school year. This fall the Middle School will roll out a new daily schedule, both divisions are reviewing their grading and assessment practices, and new and evolving programs and trainings focused on equity and inclusion will involve both adults and students.
“The students we have at Lakeside right now are our primary concern,” emphasizes Wilks. “It speaks to the commitment of our faculty and staff that they never turn away from a student who needs something. The priority is teaching and taking care of students.”
Re-envisioning milestones: August and September
- Aug. 28, 29: Faculty, staff, and representatives from the student body, parents and guardians, alumni, and Board of Trustees hear and give feedback on the research and work done by the re-envisioning task force and the other working groups, including possible changes to the school calendar (daily and yearly) and internships.
- Sept. 20: Lakeside’s Board of Trustees meets for an update on the re-envisioning.
- September: Plan finalized for focus groups of students, parents/guardians, and alumni.
Over the course of this year, we’ll be sharing details about the re-envisioning every month. We’ll also highlight opportunities for students and parents and guardians to hear from administrators in person and provide feedback about ideas under consideration.
Read Bernie Noe’s Inside Lakeside article for more about the re-envisioning, and how parents and guardians can help students develop the skills, competencies, and mindsets that will help them thrive in the future. Director of College Counseling Ari Worthman also shares why he’s excited about the re-envisioning in his article.
In the October edition of Inside Lakeside, we will explore more deeply what re-envisioning work has happened thus far and what is scheduled for this fall.