The past two years have called on us individually and as an institution to reexamine long-held assumptions, beliefs, norms, and ways of being.
Throughout this issue of Select News, you will read about the ways that Friends Select is thinking and acting differently with increased clarity about our mission. Although this time of tumult has accelerated and intensified our focus on issues of equity and justice, the groundwork was already in place in our strategic plan, Advance Friends Select. The pillars of the plan (Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Use of Space, Financial Sustainability and Endowment Growth, and Strategic Partnerships/Relationships) provided the scaffolding, and we turned the crises facing us into fuel to take on these challenges with increased urgency and intention.
The work of the board of trustees isn’t always obvious or seen in the wider community. The most visible action the board has taken recently has been to enthusiastically approve the transformation of the front of the Parkway Building and the purchase of the new STEAM Building at 1520 Race Street. Even in a time when so much of the school’s attention and energy had to focus on new COVID-19 health and safety protocols and navigating fear and uncertainty, we also had the opportunity to be bold and expansive with our commitment to create learning environments that match our phenomenal teaching while prioritizing environmental sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion in these transformative projects. Less visible but also important, we are reviewing our board practices, policies, and goals through a DEI lens and each board committee has added specific DEI goals to its work.
As trustees, we have to remain diligent about our fiduciary responsibility and the need for our focus to be at the 30,000-foot level looking toward and planning for the future. We have worked especially closely with head of school Michael Gary and the Friends Select administration since the beginning of the pandemic, being mindful not to step over into operational decisions. I have been so proud of the hard work and collaboration between the board and Michael as we navigated through hard decisions to support our community in the present while also being strategic in taking bold steps that will positively affect future generations of students and further establish Friends Select as being in the city and of the city.