News

The Path Forward


As we wrap up what has been a most challenging school year by any measure, we have been hard at work planning for the upcoming Fall Semester and the next school year.
 
Much like our approach of the past few months, our planning process is being driven by three main objectives:
 
1. Ensuring the safety and health of our school community
 
2. Enhancing our commitment to engaged teaching and learning
 
3. Maintaining and growing our strong community connections
 
Importantly, these objectives will be met while being true to Drew’s mission and while continuing to innovate and embrace new possibilities presented by the current public health condition.


Unlike this past semester when our students, families, faculty and staff had to turn on a dime to create and adapt to a new way of learning outside our campus, we plan on building on this experience this summer in shaping an even more engaging and inspiring educational environment both within and beyond the traditional classroom and campus setting.
 
Clearly, our hope is that we can gather in person on California Street when school begins on August 19th and we are working hard to make that a reality. However, concrete plans of what exactly school looks like when students and faculty return from summer break will be informed by evolving San Francisco Department of Public Health guidelines. 
 
Regardless of the model we adopt, Drew’s student-centered, challenging and supportive pedagogy will determine the student experience. The work that the school has been doing around our mission and educational values through the curricular review of the past few years has allowed our already nimble faculty to pivot quickly and deliberately. In fact, we are excited by the possibilities that some of these changing circumstances have brought to deepen our continued effort to innovate our pedagogical approach and better prepare students for the 21st century. 
 
Dan Henkle, our Board of Trustees Chair, has established a Fall Planning Sub-Committee which has been meeting to help support the School's Leadership Team in developing the plans for this Fall. The objectives of the sub-committee are three-fold:
 
1. Contribute to a comprehensive Drew School operational plan on how to successfully and safely reopen Drew, including a broad range of contingency and mitigation plans.
 
2. Assist in identifying and addressing key health and safety issues, including policy and procedure development.
 
3. Communicate plans and progress with the broader Drew community.
 
This sub-committee, led by Dan, includes:
 
David Frankenberg, Drew Head of School
Tracy Kirkham, Drew Board Vice Chair
Arpana Vidyarthi, Drew Board Secretary
Irene Sung, Drew Board Member
Doug Moore, Drew CFO/COO
Wayne Buder, Drew Director of Marketing and Communications
 
We are extremely fortunate that Arpana, Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Irene, Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, are bringing their considerable expertise in health and safety to our discussions so that we can ensure the plans we are developing address our primary planning objectives for the coming school year. 
 
Separately, the school’s Leadership Team has partnered with Leadership & Design, our strategic planning consultant, to engage with our faculty, staff, students, and parents in reflection and creative ideation as we plan for next year. This work is already leading to the development of innovative approaches for enhancing the school’s commitment to engaged, student-centered learning and deep community connection.
 
Additionally, our work is being informed by the wealth of research and insights provided by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) as well as the independent schools’ National Business Officers Association (NBOA). These organizations provide essential data from the broader universe of independent schools experiencing the same sets of challenges and opportunities we are experiencing at Drew. 
 
More locally, David is also in regular contact with the Heads of School at our peer schools to gain and share perspectives on the planning process. The Heads have all acknowledged the need to remain flexible in their approach to re-opening plans given the fluidity of the public safety guidelines as we approach the beginning of the new school year.
 
In the weeks ahead, you will be receiving regular updates on the status of the planning process on our website, by email, in virtual Town Halls, and on social media.
 

Planning Timetable/Benchmarks

 
• Special Board of Trustees Meeting           June 22 
   -School Opening Scenarios Reviewed
 
 
• Community Virtual Town Hall                  June 25
   -Update on Planning Process/Q&A 
     
           
• School Opening Scenario Determined       1st Week of August
   -Based on public health guidance
    at the time.
 
 
• 2nd Community Virtual Town Hall            2nd Week of August                     
              
• First Day of School                                 August 19
 
                                         
In closing, we want to extend our thanks and appreciation to all our community members for their commitment, collaboration and strength in persevering through a year of unexpected challenges. In particular, we want to commend all our students who have shown incredible heart and spirit during this time.
 
While there is much uncertainty in terms of what the future will bring, what has become evident the past year is the deep resilience, compassion, and flexibility of our community. 
 
These qualities have allowed us to address the many challenges we have faced this past year. In taking stock of them, we will continue to keep our students' experience and our mission our priority as we develop a plan for re-opening and remain optimistic about the possibilities ahead.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Dan Henkle                                    David Frankenberg
Chair, Board of Trustees                  Head of School
 
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