An Independent School • Grades 5-12

In the second article in our re-envisioning series, we review what’s happened so far, from the start of the re-envisioning through work currently underway. If you missed the first article – in which we define the re-envisioning and explain why now is the right time to do this work – you can find it on our website.

Planning for change

Over the course of Lakeside’s history, the school has consistently evolved to prepare students to thrive in an ever-changing world. The current re-envisioning incorporates knowledge collected through Lakeside’s work in three different areas: the curriculum review of 2013-2014; the diversity, equity and inclusion initiative, Our Work Together, which launched in January 2018; and the comprehensive 5-12 global curriculum review conducted spring 2018. These initiatives and other reviews play a critical role in guiding and informing the work of the re-envisioning.

Bert Valdman, chair of Lakeside’s Board of Trustees, says, “The guiding question [of the re-envisioning] – how best to equip students for the future – reflects Lakeside School’s pioneering spirit, which continually puts the status quo to the test. For me, this is the most energizing and exciting aspect of being part of the Lakeside community.”

Fall and winter 2018: The re-envisioning launches

During the 2018-2019 school year, members of the Lakeside community researched, reflected, and began to define what might be possible in a re-envisioned Lakeside School. Head of School Bernie Noe and division directors Felicia Wilks and Elaine Christensen worked closely with Lake Partners, a strategy consulting firm founded by Joe Barer, Class of 1987 and a Lakeside parent, to think through how to best organize and steer the re-envisioning process.

The re-envisioning publicly debuted in August 2018, just before the start of the last school year. On a professional development day, Lakeside’s faculty, staff, and a representative group of students heard from educational expert Tony Wagner on future-oriented skills before gathering in teams to design hypothetical ideal schools. The goal was to get everyone thinking broadly about what education and schools could be in the future.

From there, the school moved into a more concrete exploration phase. In November 2018, teams of faculty, trustees, and interested staff traveled to 24 places of work in local business, not-for-profit, and government sectors to better understand how their organizations are likely to evolve in the future and what skills will be necessary to be successful. The school continued this exploration by hosting spring “salons” at which local leaders in a wide variety of fields spoke to faculty and staff about optimal skills and habits of mind for the future. During this time, faculty and staff continued studying and reading about the future of education and schools.

At a breakthrough professional development day in April, Lakeside’s faculty and representatives from the student body, parents and guardians, staff, alumni, and Board of Trustees came together to determine and articulate the skills, competencies, and mindsets at the core of the re-envisioning. As a framing device for the day, participants considered the question: Using the mission as our guide, how do we teach students to make good decisions in their personal and professional lives and act on them to make the world a better place for others?

Spring 2019: Working groups narrow in on concepts

Starting last spring, several committees composed of faculty and administrators have come together to explore how we might “do school differently” as a result of the re-envisioning. The committees included a re-envisioning task force (RTF), which is focusing on what students will learn through the overall educational program (the content, mindsets, competencies, and skills); a group examining potential academic year calendars; a related group exploring dedicated time during the school year for students to focus on a single topic, perhaps focused on experiential learning (tentatively titled a “Lion Term”); and a study of potential types of internship programs for the Upper School. The work of these groups continued throughout the summer of 2019.

Back to School 2019: Beginning to share our ideas

The 2019-2020 year kicked off with a professional development day devoted to the re-envisioning. Faculty and representatives from the student body, parents and guardians, staff, alumni, and Board of Trustees came together to hear from each of the working groups. “It was an exciting day,” remarks Head of School Bernie Noe, “and there was tremendous openness to the ideas being presented.”

During the morning, the entire group reviewed the close-to-final list of skills, competencies, and mindsets that the RTF believes students will need most to thrive in the future. Participants gathered for conversation around posters in the Wright Community Center, engaged quietly with the concepts in the library, and paired up for “walk and talks” around the track to discuss. In the afternoon, people gathered in St. Nicholas Hall for presentations from the working groups focused on the academic year calendar, a potential “Lion Term,” and internships.

Survey data from participants captured marked excitement and interest in the ideas presented. In September and October, the re-envisioning task force and working groups are incorporating feedback, doing detailed analysis of concepts that were of particular interest, and preparing to present a narrowed list of concepts to the Board of Trustees.

Stay tuned!

Administrators will be seeking feedback from students and parents/guardians in November, after the Board of Trustees provides preliminary feedback at its annual retreat on Nov. 1 and 2. This round of feedback will focus on the skills, competencies, and mindsets that students will be taught at Lakeside. Later this winter, administrators will present and collect feedback on ideas related to the calendar, the Lion Term, and internships.

In the November/December edition of Inside Lakeside, we will review upcoming milestones and what the board will be reviewing at its retreat in early November.  

Read more about the re-envisioning in last month’s article exploring the “why” of the re-envisioning as well as Bernie Noe’s article about how parents and guardians can help students develop the skills, competencies, and mindsets that will help them thrive in the future.