Strategic Vision

Challenging Students to Think Expansively, Act Ethically and Lead Responsibly

In May 2012, Shady Side Academy adopted the strategic vision Challenging Students to Think Expansively, Act Ethically and Lead Responsibly, which provided a road map for the Academy's ambitious and successful future. From 2012-2017, the Academy made great strides toward achieving its goals. This final report lists the six goals of the Strategic Vision and their corresponding strategies, with notable progress and achievements listed beneath each strategy.

Goal 1; Academic Program

Deliver a rigorous academic experience renowned for preparing students to excel and lead in a complex, rapidly changing global society.

Ensure an integrated PK-12 curriculum that is meticulously sequenced, pedagogically consistent and developmentally appropriate.

  • A PK-12 Integration Committee, which included the school heads, examined the full scope of SSA’s academic program. Sequencing of skill and content within each academic discipline was examined to identify where grade-level transitions could be improved.
  • Peers and aspirational schools were researched regarding curricular integration emphasis, organizational and governance structures, staff and resources, and the presence of overarching curricular themes.
  • ommittee recommendations included implementing a more formal structure to sustain current curricular integration efforts, allocating professional development funding to curriculum work and considering the addition of curriculum coordinator position(s). The committee also created a new course adoption protocol.
  • Teachers are doing cross-divisional peer visits and department leaders are working with their counterparts in the other divisions to ensure curricular continuity.
  • A small group approach to teaching literacy in Junior School grades PK-1 has yielded enormous growth in students’ reading assessments, and the Wilson Fundations program has helped to build phonemic awareness and phonics skills in grades PK-2.
  • The Writing Workshop curriculum was successfully implemented in Junior School grades K-5 in 2013-2014 to develop young students’ writing skills. Students are learning to write in three genres – narrative, informational and persuasive.
  • The Math in Focus: Singapore Math curriculum was implemented in Junior School grades K-5 in 2012-2013 and later expanded to Middle School grades 6-7.
  • After several years of the Flex Language Program, the Middle School is sending classes of Chinese learners to the Senior School, and many students place into Level 3 classes.
  • The Reading Workshop curriculum was successfully implemented in Junior School grades 2-5 in 2017-2018, allowing students to read books on their specific level, utilizing techniques taught by the teacher in a mini-lesson format. Students are challenged to read “long and strong” in a variety of genres with an emphasis on non-fiction reading.

Strengthen the science curriculum and the use of technology at all three divisions to inspire and prepare more students to pursue the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math at the university level.

  • A Science Program Committee examined the science curriculum PK-12 to ensure good progression of skills and content instruction, pedagogical consistency between divisions, more outdoor learning opportunities, adequate lab time, and preparation for SAT subject tests and college science programs. Course offerings were examined with the need to challenge top students in mind.
  • Several peer and aspirational schools were researched regarding their PK-12 science curricula from both a programmatic and pedagogical standpoint.
  • Committee recommendations included evaluating the Middle School schedule to allow for more lab time; developing course tracks at the Senior School to challenge top science students; developing a support system for students taking standardized tests; developing a research course for upper-form students; and building partnerships with universities and organizations.
  • A new Senior School schedule in 2012-2013 significantly increased the amount of science classroom time per cycle, allowing teachers to cover more content during the year.
  • The Junior School K-2 science curriculum was reworked to include genetics, botany and makers faire.
  • The Middle School grade 8 science curriculum now includes Environmental Science for most students and Senior School Physics I for those in the higher math track, meeting the needs of all. The Middle School Science Department has collaborated with the Western PA Conservancy to strengthen portions of the curriculum.
  • The Senior School Science Department is providing documentation to parents and students regarding SAT Subject Test expectations, indicating what areas are covered in class.
  • The Senior School has hired several new science teachers in the last few years, including PhDs in physics and molecular biology.
  • The faculty has revitalized the Senior School Science Olympiad program and is seeing results.
  • The cozy new Junior School Idea Lab is a space where technology fosters creativity and collaboration with iPads, laptops, a SMART Board and whiteboard walls.
  • Junior School fifth graders create videos on their iPads to enhance admissions tours.
  • The Middle School 1:1 iPad program was successfully implemented in grade 6 in 2013-2014 and expanded to grade 7 in 2014-2015 and grade 8 in 2015-2016.
  • The Middle School grades 7-8 computer courses were completely reworked to have a programming focus.
  • Since 2013 the Middle and Junior Schools have participated in the Hour of Code, in which every student spends an hour engaged in coding activities. Since then, the Middle School curriculum has incorporated the concepts from the Hour of Code into its computer science curriculum.
  • Robotics education continues to expand across all three divisions, and students in grades 3-12 have the opportunity to join SSA robotics teams.
  • The Middle School has robust Science Olympiad and Robotics teams. The Robotics Team went to nationals for the first time in 2017. The Science Olympiad Team has won five state titles and been to nationals numerous times.
  • The number of students in advanced computer science courses has increased steadily, with 26 students taking AP Computer Science in 2017-2018.
  • Senior School student members of the Computer Science Club created a mobile app for students and teachers to manage their schedules, which won the Congressional App Challenge.
  • The Middle School’s three science labs were renovated in 2014 and 2016, creating more flexible spaces that support an interactive, collaborative, project-oriented approach to teaching.
  • In 2016, the Junior School science lab renovation created a suite of five new labs that ensure collaboration and inspiration, allowing two classes to be taught at the same time. Students enjoy “buddy science,” in which students from lower and upper grade levels can work together.
  • The McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation was constructed at the Senior School and opened in spring 2018.
  • Plans are underway for a technology and maker space renovation in the lower level of Rowe and Memorial Halls, creating new spaces for Robotics, Science Olympiad, Advanced Physics classes, and Computer Science.

Develop an intentional global focus in our PK-12 curriculum and engage students in meaningful, age-appropriate opportunities to develop global awareness and competency.

  • Eight Chinese students from Beijing School No. 4 attended the Middle School for three weeks in January 2014, and nine Chinese students from RISE spent two weeks at the Junior School in January 2018, learning from students and teachers while staying with SSA host families.
  • The Middle School held the first annual Global Action Conference Day in December 2013, educating students about issues facing different areas of the world. Since then the Middle School has held Global Action Conference Day each year, focusing on challenges in both our own communities and around the world, and incorporating service projects into the day.
  • The Senior School created the full-time position of director of global and off-campus opportunities to coordinate all experiential learning opportunities, including international exchange, study abroad, off- campus semester and gap year programs. A web page makes this information accessible to families.
  • The reinstatement of seven-day boarding has increased the global diversity of our Senior School campus. In 2017-2018, the program welcomed students from eight different countries.

Expand the College Counseling curriculum to begin in ninth grade and emphasize a “best college, best fit” culture that encourages students to stretch themselves and apply to the best schools that fit their skills and interests.

  • A College Counseling Committee was charged with analyzing SSA’s program, researching other schools’ programs, and making recommendations to a new college counseling director for 2013-2014.
  • Peer and aspirational schools research revealed that all schools face similar challenges regarding college selectivity in comparison to parent/student expectations, and most are frustrated that many colleges no longer accept advocacy calls from college counselors. Most schools shared SSA’s belief in the need to start programming in ninth grade. SSA is further ahead than many schools in the use of the web and social media for college counseling.
  • Committee recommendations included considering the addition of an upper-form college counseling course as well as in-house standardized test preparation; hosting college mini-fairs; and having counselors engage in more directed travel.
  • A new director of college counseling was named after a national search.
  • The College Counseling Office (CCO) has worked to make its programming developmentally appropriate and constituent-wide.
  • A new “college boot camp” program for seniors, launched in August 2014, addresses readiness by providing students with necessary information sooner.
  • The class meeting structure was changed to be more thematic in approach, talking about leadership and building an application over time.
  • The CCO now hosting several “Coffee and Conversation” events for ninth and tenth grade parents each year.
  • In September 2014, four college deans came to SSA to present to juniors and their parents about the college process.
  • College mini-fairs were implemented in 2013-2014 per the recommendation of the strategic plan committee; however, the outcome was far less successful than expected. The CCO is taking a more strategic approach to college visits in 2014-2015, both for visits to SSA by college admissions officers and visits by SSA counselors to college admissions offices.
  • Academic departments are providing more information to parents and students about standardized tests in advance.
  • The College Counseling Office introduced a seminar for juniors to introduce them to the logistical aspects of applying to college and also to engage them in the important work of reflection as they embark on the college process.
  • SSA hosted the annual PAIS College Fair in spring 2017, which brought more than 100 college representatives and 250 visitors to our campus.

Introduce advanced course options across the disciplines at the Senior School to allow capable, passionate, motivated students to “take off.”

  • Two advanced Computer Science electives were added: Application Development for Mobile Devices and Discrete Structures.
  • Physics I and II were split into two levels based on mathematical ability. Students are placed into Physics I or Physics I Quantitative based on placement in Math I or II. Likewise, placement in Physics II (Algebra) or Physics II (Calculus) is based on math placement.
  • The reworked Advanced Topics in Physics and Engineering course allows top science students to explore 21st century physics, such as quantum mechanics.
  • Three new single-term chemistry electives (Chemical Bonding, Chemistry of Metals, and Quantitative Chemical Analysis) were added.
  • Three post-calculus math electives were added; the course catalog now includes nine math electives beyond calculus.
  • AP Chinese was added to language course offerings.
  • A new science research seminar introduces students to advanced research techniques during the school year, then places them in local research labs the following summer.

Achieve the right balance and commit to excellence in our academics, arts and athletics programs at each campus.

  • A Balance of Program Committee, headed by President Tom Cangiano, was charged with examining the academic, athletic and arts requirements at each division with the goal of providing more flexibility for students. In particular, Middle and Senior School athletic and physical activity requirements were thoroughly evaluated, and exemptions and/or reductions to the requirements were considered. Input was also sought from the faculty.
  • Peer and aspirational schools were researched regarding their academic, athletic, and arts requirements.
  • Limited flexibility was added to both Middle and Senior Schools by developing a process under which students may request a limited exemption from team requirements. Requests for exemptions will be tracked and studied over the coming years.
  • Options for athletic and non-athletic exemptions are now transparently codified in an exemption policy. This allows a greater number of students to participate in the theatre and Science Olympiad programs, with no effect on the number or quality of the athletic teams.
  • A new cross country team for grades 3-5 was added in 2017.

Improve our technology platform and support across all three campuses and add an educational technology team that will provide vision and leadership for integrating technology in our classrooms in meaningful ways.

  • A Technology Committee was charged with researching and making recommendations for improvements to hardware and software; staffing configurations for educational technology; and how to further incorporate technology into the classroom in ways that facilitate teaching and learning.
  • Aspirational schools that are nationally recognized for technology were researched regarding curriculum, pedagogical focus, equipment, integration and practices.
  • Committee recommendations included: hiring a strategic technology leader to provide direction and leadership for educational technology; having ed tech “coaches” on each campus to train and support faculty; improving SSA’s refresh plan to keep hardware current; considering a BYOD or 1:1 program; and providing faculty professional development for technology.
  • An iPad pilot program at all three schools was implemented in 2012-2013, allowing teachers in all disciplines to incorporate technology into the classroom in engaging and meaningful ways.
  • A 1:1 iPad program was launched in fifth grade at the Junior School in 2012-2013 and in the Middle School in 2013-2014.
  • A director of educational technology position was created in 2013, and a technology integration specialist position was added in 2015 to work directly with teachers on classroom technology.
  • In 2014, all Novell systems (including directory services and email) were replaced with Microsoft systems, providing better reliability, scalability and support. SSA also partnered with Google to provide teachers and students with a suite of cloud-based technology tools.
  • In March 2014, the entire PK-12 faculty was immersed in educational technology professional development at the first annual SSA Technology & Learning Day, featuring nearly 40 hands-on workshops led by teachers and experts from across the country.
  • Junior School teachers began holding “Tech Wednesdays” once a month – a forum to share expertise and encourage the effective use of technology in the classroom.
  • Several SSA teachers participated in iPad-focused conferences in Boston and Harrisburg.
  • The director of educational technology ran regular workshops with the Middle School faculty in conjunction with the launch of the 1:1 iPad program.
  • A new wireless network infrastructure was installed across the Junior, Middle and Senior School campuses in 2015, and extended to Country Day School in 2017.
  • New laptops were purchased for Senior School in 2014-2015, Middle School teachers in 2015-2016, and Junior School teachers in 2017-2018.
  • Several experts have come to SSA to speak to students, teachers and parents about technology use, including Dr. Leonard Sax, UPMC’s Ryan Klingensmith, Dr. Michael Rich, Dr. David Delmonico, Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair and Dr. Sameer Hinduja. SSA also hosted a free community screening of the documentary film Screenagers.

Revise Senior School graduation requirements to allow students more flexibility in course selection and a degree of academic specialization.

  • The English genre requirement was eliminated and upper-form courses now rotate through all scheduling blocks, giving students more flexibility to take other electives without conflict.
  • Health I and II were replaced by a two-credit, yearlong 10th grade course, Contemporary Issues in Teen Health. The course meets four of eight days in an unusable schedule block tied to a science course, so it does not restrict enrollment in other electives. The maximum number of credits sophomores may take was increased so no student is denied the opportunity to take additional courses.
  • Summer school course final grades now count in the overall QPA calculation, beginning with summer 2014 courses.
  • Discussion of graduation requirements has been ongoing in APC and faculty meetings, including discussion of requirements for students admitted at later entry points (grades 10-11).

Benchmark our academic program using empirical data from selected top schools around the country to ensure our competitive advantage.

  • All 11 strategic priority committees benchmarked SSA’s programs against peer and aspirational schools in order to conduct a gap analysis and make recommendations for improvement.
  • SSA continues to benchmark its academic programs against peer and aspirational schools as part of an ongoing process of self-assessment.

Goal 2: Faculty

Invest in faculty and ensure the preservation of the faculty-student relationship that lies at the heart of the Shady Side Academy experience.

Recruit and retain a diverse, well-rounded, academically talented faculty that believes in the teacher/coach/mentor paradigm.

  • Faculty recruitment regularly includes national searches for experienced teachers with advanced degrees, plus the desire and ability to coach and mentor students outside of class. Nearly 75% of faculty members in 2017-2018 held advanced degrees, including several PhDs.
  • Via the SSA website, Carney Sandoe & Associates, NemNet and word of mouth, SSA continues to recruit outstanding teachers with advanced degrees who bring diverse interests, backgrounds and perspectives to our community.
  • SSA has been able to recruit a more diverse faculty geographically, experientially and racially. Several teachers relocated to Pittsburgh specifically to teach at SSA.
  • The Senior School has been deliberately hiring teacher-coaches to complement teacher- scholars. As of 2014, 75% of the full-time faculty was involved in athletics, up from 48% in 2012, and 50% coached two or more seasons of athletics, up from 36%.

Advance the continued growth and development of our faculty through a directed professional development program, the promotion of a culture of constant self-examination and an enhanced teacher evaluation process.

  • A new faculty professional development liaison was appointed in 2014. In 2016-2017, the school funded 98 professional development opportunities, including Benedum Fellowships, sabbaticals, graduate education, curriculum development and participation in workshops and conferences. The total amount of funding was $209,565.
  • All three school heads visited other schools in 2013-2014.
  • Junior School teachers traveled to Columbia University Teachers College in summer 2013 to train in the new Writing Workshop curriculum. A staff developer from Columbia visited SSA in fall 2013 to work with teachers in the classroom. Since then all Junior School teachers have been to Writing Workshop training, many more than once. With the addition of Reading Workshop in 2017, many teachers have attended workshops on this program as well.
  • In 2017, three professors from the University of Pittsburgh worked with Academy faculty to address the importance of crafting essential questionsas part of the larger scope and sequence work we are doing.
  • The Junior School faculty has focused on the craft of teaching, guided by Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. Teachers record their lessons and reflect on their practice, and visit mentor schools to observe and learn.
  • Junior School teachers have focused on differentiation and worked with a professor from the University of Pittsburgh on how best to reach all of the learners in their classes, with additional focus on how to ensure higher-level students are appropriately challenged.
  • Student evaluations of teachers are formally in place at the Middle School, following the model already in place at the Senior School. Middle School teachers have classroom visits and goal meetings with the Head of School every year, as well as follow up.
  • Since 2014, parents and students graduating from each division (grades 5, 8 and 12) have provided feedback on their experiences via annual exit surveys.
  • The school heads and president are evaluated by faculty and staff in annual surveys.

Improve the school schedule to ensure adequate time for faculty members to work collaboratively with students and colleagues, and to develop professionally.

  • A new Senior School schedule implemented in 2012-2013 features fewer classes per day but longer class periods, allowing for deeper discussions and engagement between teachers and students; in 2013-2014, weekly faculty meeting time was added on Tuesday mornings for teachers to meet as a whole, as departments, and in course-level/sub-discipline teams.
  • A new Middle School schedule implemented in 2013-2014 features fewer classes per day but longer class periods and drop days to give faculty and students more focused time in the classroom. Teachers and students reported being very satisfied with the way they can focus on topics for more prolonged periods of time.
  • A new Junior School schedule implemented in 2013-2014 features a seven-day rotating cycle, allowing for longer uninterrupted blocks of classroom time and minimizing the number of classes missed due to holidays and in-service days.
  • Two Senior School teachers participated in a conference on teacher teams at Harvard University in 2013. In 2013-2014, they led a team of 12 faculty members across departments who met once per cycle to share pedagogical ideas, feedback and advice. Currently, Teacher Teams meet once per month. Faculty conduct peer classroom visits as part of Teacher Teams.
  • The Senior School English Department got release time in 2013-2014 to discuss the genre requirement and modification to the elective program.

Promote a culture where excellence in teaching is recognized and teachers know they are highly valued members of the Shady Side community.

  • A Faculty Blog on SSA’s website showcases SSA’s excellent teachers and what they are doing in the classroom.
  • The Winter 2014-2015 issue of Shady Side Academy Magazine focused on faculty, spotlighting six teachers as well as two alumni who have chosen careers in education.
  • Farrell Awards are presented annually to recognize faculty excellence in three areas: innovative teaching, going above and beyond, and meaningful interactions with students.
  • Endowed chairs are awarded to faculty members to recognize excellence in teaching science, mathematics, and the humanities. Endowed chairs are held for five-year terms.

Ensure greater faculty collaboration across disciplines and divisions.

  • Several in-service days were devoted to interdivisional, departmental faculty meetings in 2012-2013 to discuss curriculum, examine what is done at each grade level, and uncover gaps and overlaps.
  • Interdivisional peer visits began in 2013-2014. Middle School faculty have observed classes at both the Junior and Senior Schools with the intent of facilitating conversation between divisions and ensuring curricular continuity in each discipline.
  • Middle School learning area coordinators in social studies, English and science have been developing common expectations for writing across the curriculum, and are working towards a larger conversation with the Senior School. Some content coordination is also taking place between the social studies and English curricula.

Support and recognize innovative thinking and teaching in and out of the classroom.

  • Teachers with innovative ideas are encouraged and financially supported to present at professional conferences.
  • Innovative teachers and class projects are featured on the website, Faculty Blog and magazine.

Goal 3: Students

Provide a distinctive student experience that develops outstanding scholars, ethical leaders and global citizens.

Increase meaningful leadership development opportunities at all three schools, culminating in a required leadership experience at the Senior School.

  • A Leadership, Service and Global Connections (LSGC) Committee was charged with researching and making recommendations regarding character education, community service and leadership programming, as well as expanding global connection efforts.
  • Peer and aspirational schools were researched in these areas and how they are integrated with each other into the curriculum.
  • Committee recommendations included: the addition of freshman/senior “bookend” and divisional capstone experiences focused on leadership, service and/or character; and ensuring older students serve as vocal role models to younger students by reflecting on their leadership experience.
  • A new Junior School fifth grade leadership curriculum was implemented in 2012-2013. In addition to serving as assembly leaders and morning greeters, fifth graders evaluate their strengths and skills and match them with available leadership positions, for which they apply and interview each term. Positions include morning announcers, admissions ambassadors, PE equipment managers and more.
  • Middle School student leadership is now rooted in a committee structure rather than class officer elections.
  • Beginning in 2013, an annual leadership fair is held at the Senior School to expose students to the many available leadership opportunities and to encourage them to apply. The fair is linked to two required leadership workshops in the fall and spring.
  • After exploring the idea of a required Senior School leadership experience, the consensus was that it will be more meaningful and effective to promote a culture in which leadership thrives, rather than tying it to a graduation requirement. There is an ongoing discussion about being more intentional regarding leadership.

Foster the development of a strong moral compass in students by fully incorporating our Guiding Principles into a well-coordinated character education program that is taught by word and example at all grade levels.

  • The LSGC Committee examined all three schools’ character education efforts. It was noted that the homeroom/advisory setting could provide an additional level of support for character development, and that the Senior School health curriculum might be an ideal place to integrate more formal discussions of principles and ethics.
  • The “Shady Side Way” program was implemented at the Junior School in 2012-2013, based on the Academy’s five guiding principles. Students explore character development through play-based lessons with the school counselor. The Shady Side Way is integrated into daily school life and reinforced in tangible ways. Students wear blue wristbands as a reminder to live the The Shady Side Way, and those “caught” doing so are publicly recognized at assembly and with postcards mailed home.
  • At the Junior School, a new wellness course in grades PK-5 is taught by the counselor and learning specialist utilizing the Second Step social-emotional learning program.
  • The Middle School advisory program incorporates targeted activities, speakers and planned themes that support a strong character education ethos.
  • The new 10th grade health course incorporates character education and decision-making topics relevant to this age group.
  • An October 2014 faculty in-service program featured David Streight of CSEE, whose mission is to help schools create climates that foster social/emotional growth and develop intrinsically motivated young people.

Foster an Academy-wide culture of service by engaging students at all grade levels in meaningful, ongoing service learning projects and adding a community service component to graduation requirements.

  • LSGC Committee recommendations included: adding a centralized staff position for community service; developing a more formalized service program with a mission-based focus; integrating service into the curriculum for grades PK-8 and adding a community service requirement for grades 9-12; having standards in place to quantify and measure the impact students have on communities they serve; and integrating service into the homeroom/advisory setting and possible bookend/capstone experiences.
  • A part-time service learning coordinator was hired in 2013-2014 to support existing PK-12 service efforts, build relationships with community organizations, and develop plans for a more formalized service program. In 2017, a full-time Director of Equity, Inclusion and Community Relations position was added.
  • The annual MLK DAY of Service continues each January, as hundreds of SSA students, parents, faculty and staff spend the day volunteering at nonprofits around Pittsburgh.
  • Since 2013, the annual Global Action Conference Day exposes Middle School students to important global issues, and follow-up service activities keep students engaged with these topics throughout the school year.
  • In 2015, SSA began a tutoring partnership with Urban Pathways Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh, in which Senior School students tutor UPCS elementary students in reading and math on Saturday mornings.
  • A Senior School community service requirement was discussed at length among faculty, administration and trustees, and it was decided not to pursue such a requirement. The consensus was that it will be more effective and meaningful to better foster a culture of service. Benchmarking and school research supports this decision.
  • Each Senior School advisory group has been asked to do something service-related as a group.

Provide academic and personal counseling and support to students with a consistent staffing model and approach on all three campuses.

  • A consistent staffing model in now in place at all schools. Each campus has a full-time licensed counselor or psychologist and at least one full-time learning specialist on staff.
  • Learning specialists from all divisions have developed common policies regarding record-keeping and the creation of a formal accommodation plan for students with learning needs, ensuring a consistent continuum of support and seamless transition between divisions.
  • Junior and Middle School learning specialists created a study skills curriculum for grades 3-6 that develops skills such as organization, planning and test-taking strategies.
  • The learning specialists and school counselors from all divisions meet regularly to work collaboratively, share information and discuss best practices.
  • Information about students with learning differences or support needs is shared with the faculty as needed.
  • Presentations to the faculty are given by student support staff and outside professionals to address the needs of all students.

Ensure that parents are actively engaged as partners in their child’s Shady Side Academy experience.

  • “Hopes and Dreams Conferences” were implemented at the Junior School in 2012-2013 and at Country Day School in 2017-2018, giving parents a chance to meet with their child’s teacher at the start of the school year to share their hopes and dreams for their child’s social, emotional, and intellectual journey that year.
  • A Parent Education Programs Committee was formed in 2014 and hosts at least three events per year featuring outside speakers and documentary screenings. Topics have included digital safety, distracted driving, drug and alcohol use, identity, the pressure to succeed and more. SSA partnered with WQED’s iQ: SmartParent series to bring some speakers to campus.
  • Beginning in 2014, the Junior School hosts a number of community events each year, such as a Back to School Picnic and Authors’ Nights, to build a sense of community among families.
  • Parent exit surveys are conducted annually in grades 5, 8 and 12, and results are analyzed to identify additional parent engagement opportunities

Ensure a diverse student body by enhancing our financial aid program; expanding the five-day boarding program and pursuing the introduction of seven-day boarding; and developing new feeder networks in non-traditional source neighborhoods.

  • The Seven-Day Boarding Committee was charged with researching critical questions regarding the feasibility of seven-day boarding, including: the case for the program; cost vs. revenue; support structures; recruiting; facility needs; and integration with five-day boarding.
  • Other boarding schools were researched, as well as two potential feeder schools in China; a conference call with the TABS executive director provided valuable benchmark data.
  • Projected benefits include: transforming the SSA student experience through the addition of a diverse group of domestic and international students; raising admissions selectivity rates; increasing the likelihood of achieving full enrollment; and a more active campus 24/7.
  • Projected challenges include: a significant capital investment; modest projected annual revenue dependent on meeting enrollment targets; significant cultural changes to the fabric of the school; the programmatic and cultural needs of a larger boarding community; and the assimilation of international students into the SSA culture and community.
  • Committee recommendations included: exploring a smaller-scale introduction to seven-day boarding to test its benefits before making significant capital investments and cultural changes.
  • Five-day boarding program hours were expanded in 2014-2015, so that students can stay in the dorms until Saturday morning and return earlier on Sunday.
  • Seven-day boarding was reinstated at the Senior School beginning in 2015-2016 and attracted 16 seven-day boarders. The program has continued to grow each year; in 2017-2018, there were 37 seven-day boarders representing eight countries and 10 states.
  • Admissions has developed relationships with new feeder schools, including Pennmont Academy in Hollidaysburg/Ebensburg, which will feed the boarding program.
  • Two gifts from alumni in 2014 endowed three new scholarships: A $1 million gift by Phil Rouse ’64 to endow two scholarships in honor of his parents; and a $500,000 gift by Nick Coslov ’92 to endow a scholarship in memory of late Middle School teacher William DeTillo.
  • Two new financial assistance programs were introduced in 2015: the Shady Side Academy Scholars Program offers merit scholarships for qualified applicants to grades 6-10; and the Alumni Tuition Grant Program offers grants to applicants to grades PK-6 from alumni families who may not qualify for need-based aid but find full tuition unaffordable.
  • The EQT Foundation established the EQT Scholars program at SSA in 2016, which provides full scholarships for two high-need students from pre-kindergarten or kindergarten through grade 12.
  • The Junior School population has become increasingly international, with families hailing from 15 different countries and speaking nearly 20 different languages at home. In 2017-2018, the Junior School student body featured 40% diversity.

Goal 4: Community Connections

Leverage our robust alumni and parent network to establish meaningful connections and collaborative relationships locally, nationally and internationally that enhance the value of the Shady Side experience.

Purposefully engage alumni and parents to become actively involved in the life of the Academy by sharing their diverse experience, expertise and access to opportunities.

  • A Parent, Alumni and Community Engagement Committee was charged with systematizing and centralizing the work of the board Community Connections Committee; generating ideas for connecting students with alumni, parents and professional regarding career paths; and establishing relationships with local institutions.
  • Peer and aspirational schools were researched regarding parent, alumni and community involvement programs and efforts.
  • Committee initiatives included: reviewing alumni database and networking software, coordinating alumni presentations and visits to all three schools, increased communications to parents regarding connections, and the development of a career connections program at the Senior School.
  • Career Connections nights were held annually from 2013-2015, giving juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn about different careers from alumni, parents and trustees in a variety of career fields.
  • Numerous alumni, parents and professionals visit SSA each year to speak in in classes, club meetings and all-school assemblies at every division to share their talents and career expertise with students.
  • Since 2014, during the annual Board of Visitors meeting, several BOV members have participated in a career panel during Senior School assembly.
  • A cover story in the winter 2012-2013 issue of SSA Magazine and web page helped to spread word about SSA’s many community connections efforts.
  • A new SSA Alumni app, utilizing Evertrue software, was purchased by the Alumni & Development Office and launched in fall 2013 as a key alumni networking tool. A web-based desktop version of the directory was added to the SSA website in 2016, replacing outdated directory software.
  • Regional alumni receptions were expanded to include more cities around the country on an annual or rotating basis.
  • The Senior School introduced an Alumni Fireside Chat series in 2017, which brings alumni to speak to students at assembly.
  • Junior School students started a pen pal exchange with alumni of the 50th reunion class and welcome the pen pals to their classroom each year at Homecoming.
  • The SSA Alumni Council has added student members in an effort to bridge the connection between students and alumni.

Create a board-level community connections committee to assist school leaders in identifying and connecting SSA with key constituents and external contacts.

  • A board-level Community Connections Committee was formed in 2012 and began its work under the leadership of trustee Judy Granato. The committee expanded to include alumni, parents, faculty and staff members in 2013.
  • The committee assisted in planning the Senior School Career Connections nights and exploring other experiential learning opportunities for students.

Partner with area universities, businesses and arts organizations to further strengthen our program and create engaged learning experiences for students.

  • SSA has forged a relationship with the local film industry, and three major motion pictures utilized our campuses in 2014: Fathers and Daughters and Southpaw filmed scenes at the Middle and Senior Schools, while Concussion utilized a Senior School parking lot as its basecamp. During F&D filming, executive producers and art director spoke in Senior School classes, and several students served as set interns. Junior and Middle School students were cast as extras in both F&D and Southpaw.
  • The Hillman Center’s 10th anniversary celebration in 2014 featured performances by students and community groups, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Hill Dance Academy Theatre and Afro-American Music Institute.
  • Junior School After School Explorers students partnered with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse to create artwork that was displayed at the East End Food Co-op.
  • At the Middle School, the modern dance group Attack Theatre worked in residence with students in PE classes, the Science Olympiad team worked with Carnegie Museum entomologists to prepare for state and national tournaments, and students attended the Israeli Film Festival Teen Screen.
  • The Senior School Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo were invited to perform alongside professional saxophonists in a holiday jazz show at the club Latitude 40.
  • Several Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians visited Senior School music classes and performed for students at the Junior School.
  • As part of A Cappella Week each January, the Kenyon College Kokosingers perform at all campuses. At the Senior School, they join students in the Chamber Choir class. Other college groups have performed at SSA during A Cappella Week as well.
  • Two Senior School students serve on the board of The Beckwith Institute, which focuses on patient care and innovation in the health care industry.
  • As part of the new research seminar, the Senior School Science Department placed six students in local science and medical laboratories to do research during the summer of 2018.
  • SSA has hosted several FIRST regional robotics tournaments at the Middle and Senior Schools, drawing students from across Western Pennsylvania.
  • Several Hillman Series performers have performed for or held workshops with SSA students, including the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the a cappella groups Six Appeal and Committed.
  • Through a partnership with Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, SSA students have the opportunity to videoconference with a top children’s or YA author who is in town for the Words & Pictures lecture series each year.

Build relationships with service and nonprofit organizations to support our PK-12 service learning program and commitment to giving back to the community.

  • SSA has continued its partnership with several local service organizations for the annual MLK Day of Service, including the local VA hospital, the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, HealthSouth, Beverly’s Birthdays, Family House and numerous other organizations.
  • Each year for Global Action Conference Day, the Middle School invites local nonprofits to educate students about social issues and partner on related service projects. Partner organizations have included 412 Food Rescue, Heritage Community Initiatives, North Hills Community Outreach, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, and more.
  • The Hillman Performing Arts Series does outreach in the community including reading programs at local libraries and outreach performances at Children’s Hospital.
  • The baseball program has forged a relationship with the Miracle League of Southwestern PA, and holds an annual clinic for special needs players.
  • The girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse programs have organized local tournaments to benefit cancer research.
  • Senior school students volunteer on Saturday mornings during the school year to tutor elementary students at Urban Pathways Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh.
  • Senior School student library associates conduct children’s story times twice a year at Cooper-Siegel Library.

Establish partnerships with “sister schools” around the world and utilize technology to connect SSA students with international students and experts via virtual classrooms.

  • President Tom Cangiano forged collaborative relationships with several schools in China, including Beijing No. 4, Wuhan Foreign Language School, Beijing No. 2, Beijing No. 5, Kaiwan Academy, Beijing No. 5 Dachung Campus and RISE Education Group. Beijing No. 4 students visited the Middle School in 2014, and RISE students visited the Junior School in 2018. For the past two summers, SSA has sent four teachers to the Beijing No. 5 Dachung campus, and teachers and administrators from Dachung have also visited Shady Side.
  • As part of their unit on Canada, Junior School first graders Skype with a Canadian school to learn more about the country from their peers. They also have Skyped with 2012 Olympic torch bearer John Tait as part of their unit on the Olympics.
  • The Junior School third grade's interdisciplinary study of the U.S. has been enriched by the Mystery Skype program, where students virtually connect with another school via Skype and use map skills, geography skills and teamwork to guess its location.
  • Eighth grade Chinese students spent two months in 2013 connecting with peers in China through the ePals Sharing Cultures project. Students shared information about their cultures through presentations, emails and Skype via an online virtual classroom.

Join local institutions at the forefront of the “greening” of Pittsburgh as part of our commitment to environmental sustainability and excellence in science.

  • SSA has partnered with AgRecycle to compost food waste from dining halls and school events.
  • The Middle School won a $2,000 school garden grant from the Whole Kids Foundation that was used to install rain gutters and cold frames in the garden. Whole Foods Market Pittsburgh has been an important community partner for the garden.
  • The Hillman Center partnered with several sustainability-focused organizations for a lecture by author Michael Pollan in May 2014, including Slow Foods Pittsburgh, Grow Pittsburgh and the Chatham Food Studies graduate program. Before the show, Pollan curated a farm-to-table reception at SSA with five local award-winning chefs.
  • A full-time farm director was added in 2016 to oversee the SSA Farm program across all four campuses and the Fox Chapel Farmers’ Market and to forge partnerships with local organizations in the area of sustainability.
  • In 2017-2018, SSA partnered with the Western PA Conservancy to map the vegetation on all three Fox Chapel campuses to identify native and invasive species. The goal is to restore and protect the native natural environment on our campuses, a project that ideally will be incorporated into the natural science curriculum. The Conservancy also worked with architects and the Facilities Department to develop a landscaping plan for the McIlroy Center.
  • A team from the Academy has been part of a two-year cohort of teachers and administrators who attend monthly workshops on sustainability sponsored by the Green Building Alliance. SSA has also hosted one of the sessions.

Create opportunities that foster meaningful connections between students at all three campuses to enhance the student experience and build community.

  • Students from all three divisions performed at the Hillman Center 10th anniversary celebration.
  • PK students travel to the Senior School farm each spring to transplant seedlings that they started in their classroom.
  • Sixth graders return to the Junior School for a yearbook signing party each fall, giving them the chance to reconnect with their former teachers.
  • Junior and Country Day School students visit the Middle School, and Middle School students visit the Senior School, to see drama productions each year.
  • Middle School seventh grade history students visit Junior School second graders to help teach them about explorers and share their own research.
  • As part of A Cappella Week 2014, the Senior School Chamber Choir sang at the Middle School, and third graders sang at Senior School assembly and participated in a choral workshop with faculty member Dr. Dan Brill.
  • Varsity captains and cheerleaders visit the Junior and Country Day Schools for Homecoming pep rallies each year. Elementary students sing the alma mater at Homecoming and are invited to cheer with the varsity cheerleaders.
  • Junior and Country Day School students in the same have playdates to get to know each other before they are classmates together in Middle School.

Goal 5: Physical Resources

Leverage our extensive physical assets on each campus to support and enhance programmatic goals in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.

Continually invest in the Junior School renovation program to ensure the facility and its grounds support the delivery of 21st Century learning skills.

  • Junior School facility improvements from 2012 to 2014 included renovations to the library, gym locker rooms and five classrooms; converting a computer lab into an Idea Lab with iPads, laptops, SMART Board, dry-erase wall paint and comfortable seating; and adding a counselor’s office.
  • The pre-kindergarten building was expanded in 2014 to accommodate increased enrollment demand and allow for programmatic enhancements. The 1,200-square-foot addition created a third PK classroom and increased program capacity from 30 to 40 students.
  • The science lab was renovated and expanded into a suite of five new science labs in 2015, providing a brighter and more productive place to learn.
  • New PK outdoor learning spaces, including a sensory garden, mud kitchen, art studio, sound garden, cozy space and gross motor track, were created using recycled materials in 2015.

Build a new science and technology center at the Senior School that supports our newly enhanced science program and is right-sized, architecturally compelling and as close to carbon-neutral as possible.

  • The Science Facilities Committee was charged with assessing science facility needs at all three campuses, collaborating with the Science Program Committee to ensure proposed spaces meet program needs, researching and visiting science facilities at other schools, and preparing cost estimates. Existing information was analyzed, including the charrette and concept design for a Senior School science building done several years ago, and renovation plans for the Middle School science facilities approved by the board two years ago. It was agreed that the previous Senior School science building concept would need to be modified to fit current needs.
  • Several schools that recently constructed or renovated science facilities were researched and/or visited. Of most interest were the topics of flexible spaces, sustainability initiatives, spaces for competitions and research, inclusion of greenhouse space and possible corporate sponsorship.
  • Committee findings and recommendations: While all campuses had significant science facility needs, the Middle School was seen as the most challenging. Since board-approved renovation plans existed for this area, the project began as soon as donor funds were secured.
  • The three Middle School science labs were renovated in 2014 and 2016. The Junior School science lab was renovated and expanded into a suite of five labs in 2015.
  • Plans for the Senior School science building moved forward in 2014 as two architectural firms were invited to bid on the project. In November 2014, the Buildings & Grounds Committee of the board voted to select Fred Fisher and Partners of Los Angeles as project architects.
  • The Board of Trustees passed a resolution in October 2014 to move forward with a capital campaign that included raising funds for the new science building.
  • Construction of the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation began in spring 2017 and was completed in May 2018, with Strada as local architect. The Gold LEED-certified building houses 10 flexible classroom/lab spaces plus a special projects room, common area and outdoor amphitheater. Rooftop solar panels provide electricity to the grid, and a rain garden collects storm runoff.
  • The final phase of the Senior School project, a maker space and technology renovation of the areas previously occupied by science in Rowe and Memorial Halls, will begin in 2018-2019 with Strada as architect.

Build a new residence hall at the Senior School to support expansion of the boarding program.

  • The two existing residence halls are expected to meet the needs of both five- and seven-day boarders in the short-term. Based on the growth of seven-day boarding, a determination will be made as to whether new residential structures are needed in the future.
  • A complete renovation of Morewood was completed in 2015, which included an additional bathroom on the first floor as well as a modern, well-equipped bathroom on the second floor. Laundry facilities and storage areas were added to the basement, and a kitchenette was installed in the common room.
  • A modest renovation of Croft included elimination of water issues in the basement, fresh paint and carpeting throughout, upgrades of fire safety systems, laundry facilities and a kitchenette in the common room.
  • A key fob system was installed in Morewood and Croft to control building access. Video cameras were installed to monitor the access points of the buildings.
  • A new Health Center was constructed in 2017, adjacent to the overnight nurse's residence. The center houses a nurse’s office, examination room and six private rooms for overnight stays by ill boarding students.

Expand the number of campus faculty housing units to help attract talented teachers, support an expansion of the boarding program and build a stronger campus community.

  • Although we have held off on increasing the number of faculty housing units, we continue to renovate and upgrade all residences on the cul-de-sac. We have also begun a staged renovation of Middle School housing units.
  • The dorm head apartment in Morewood was gutted and completely renovated to provide a modern, efficient resident for a small family.

Expand the capacity of McCune Dining Hall to provide added scheduling flexibility at the Senior School.

  • Plans to expand McCune Dining Hall were investigated with architects, including increased dining space as well as renovations to the kitchen and service areas.
  • In 2014, the dining hall received some upgrades, including fresh paint and carpet, a new sound system, and new accessible men’s and women’s restrooms. The old rectangular tables and chairs were replaced with a mixture of round and square tables to provide flexible seating and brighten the space. In addition, a number of back-of-the-house equipment purchases were made to increase efficiency and safety of kitchen areas.

Utilize the luxury of our 170+ acres of outdoor space on all three campuses to maximize curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities.

  • The SSA Farm was established at the Senior School in 2012 and expanded to the Junior and Middle Schools in 2013 and Country Day School in 2016. The farms provide hands-on science learning opportunities for students PK-12 and yield fresh produce for the dining halls and the Fox Chapel Farmer’s Market.
  • Patio tables, chairs and umbrellas were added to the Mary Hillman Jennings Plaza in 2014 to enhance it as an outdoor gathering space.
  • The J. Michael Grzymkowski ’90 Terrace was built at the Senior School in 2014 thanks to a gift from the family of the late alumnus. The outdoor classroom and gathering space includes benches and a stone fire pit.
  • Egg-laying hens reside on the Junior, Middle and Senior School campuses in the spring and fall as part of the SSA Farm program.
  • A well was installed at the Senior School farm as a primary water supply, thanks to a gift from a donor. Electricity was run to the farm as well.
  • A new treehouse classroom, the only one of its kind in Western PA, was constructed on the Country Day School campus in 2017-2018, providing a unique, interdisciplinary outdoor learning space.

Improve the energy efficiency of the physical plant on all three campuses to yield significant reductions in energy costs.

  • Facility improvements in 2012 and 2013 included new energy-efficient windows in Middle and Senior School buildings, installation of CFL and LED lighting, and better energy management controls, including web-based systems to reduce power consumption. The estimated impact of the changes is a 15-20% energy savings, or $100,000+ per year in utility costs.
  • A new boiler and heating system at the Middle School has made the building more energy- efficient and less costly to operate.

Goal 6: Financial Sustainability

Develop a financial master plan to support the mission of the Academy and the goals of this strategic vision.

Operate the school at full capacity, enrolling approximately 970 students PK-12.

  • The Full Enrollment Committee was charged with researching and recommending strategies to grow enrollment through marketing and other admissions efforts. Notable efforts were already underway in this area, including a new research-based admissions marketing campaign; multimedia advertising and marketing strategies; a parent ambassador program; and a trustee working group for Junior School admissions. Noted obstacles included a limited advertising and financial aid budgets.
  • Peer schools with positive enrollment trends were researched to glean successful marketing strategies. SSA was found to be doing many of the same things and often was further ahead than these schools. Noted keys to success included: marketing decisions that are data-driven; an integrated, multimedia approach including web, video and social media; marketing messages that illustrate key point of differentiation; public radio partnerships; targeted direct mail efforts; and strong parent ambassador programs.
  • Committee recommendations included: increasing the admissions budget to support year- round advertising; the creation of a new trustee working group for Senior School admissions; refreshing the parent ambassador program; and a board statement on the role of financial aid in full enrollment.
  • The admissions advertising budget was increased in 2013-2014 to support year-round advertising in print, digital, outdoor, radio and TV.
  • Junior School enrollment swelled to 245 students in 2017-2018, with many grades at or near full capacity.
  • New financial assistance options, including the Shady Side Scholars Program and the Alumni Tuition Grant Program, were introduced in 2014 to make an SSA education accessible to more families.
  • A merger with Fox Chapel Country Day School in January 2017 gave SSA a second elementary campus in Fox Chapel. The merger added 108 students to the Academy’s enrollment. Country Day will send a more reliable number of students to the Middle School each year.
  • Enrollment for 2017-2018 totaled 1,035 students, including 120 at Country Day School, 245 at the Junior School, 210 at the Middle School and 460 at the Senior School, including 65 five- or seven-day boarders.

Build the endowment to $70 million, en route to a longer-term goal of $90-$100 mission, to reduce pressure on the operating budget.

  • Two generous alumni gifts were made to the financial aid endowment totaling $2.5 million.
  • Increased reunion giving has further bolstered the endowment.
  • Through The Campaign for Shady Side, the Academy raised more than $6 million towards an $8 million endowment goal to help provide financial security in perpetuity.
  • As a result of continuous endowment growth, 30% of students receive financial assistance, including $3 million in need-based aid and $1.6 million in tuition remission.
  • At the end of the calendar year 2017, the endowment was $62 million after paying down a loan of $5 million, and was expected to grow to $67 million by the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

Increase annual giving participation levels of all constituent groups to meet or exceed NAIS standards and participation rates at peer schools.

  • The annual giving participation rate for faculty jumped from 56% in 2011-2012 to 81% in 2016-2017, exceeding the NAIS benchmark of 69% for day/boarding schools. Parent participation has remained relatively steady at 48%, nearing the 52% NAIS benchmark. Alumni participation was 16% in 2016-2017, exceeding the NAIS benchmark of 12%.
  • Annual giving totals reached new highs for five consecutive years, with $1,217,499 raised for the Blue and Gold Fund in 2012-2013, $1,254,558 in 2013-2014, $1,305,376 in 2014-2015, $1,353,000 in 2015-2016, and $1,458,662 in 2016-2017.
  • An assistant director of annual giving position was approved by the board for 2013-2014 to facilitate greater engagement with donors. The position previously existed prior to the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
  • The first-ever Duel of the Academies alumni participation challenge vs. Sewickley was held in 2014, yielding 225 alumni gifts in two weeks, or 150% of the goal.
  • The first-ever Alumni Cornerstone Giving Challenge was held in May 2017. The 22-day challenge secured 192 alumni gifts, raising more than $85,000.

Explore and expand opportunities to bolster revenues from auxiliary programs and facilities.

  • After School Explorers, a new all-inclusive after-school program at the Junior School, was launched in 2012-2013, featuring customizable schedules of enrichment classes, play time, study center and private music lessons. Enrollment in after-school programs rose 32% from the previous year and yielded a 47% revenue growth. In-service and break programming was also offered for the first time, enrolling 97 students PK-5. Enrollment and revenue continued to rise in these programs. More than 70% of Junior School students participate in an ASE program at some point during the year.
  • Summer Programs offerings, enrollment and revenue have continued to grow over the past five years. A new East End Explorers elementary day camp was added at the Junior School in 2013, and new sports and focus camps were added at the Senior School in 2014. Camp Ren was moved from the Senior School to the Middle School campus to allow for enrollment growth in both Camp Ren and Day Camp Discovery.
  • The PGA Constellation Senior Players Championship provided auxiliary revenue for four straight years from 2012-2015 through the rental of parking space on the Senior School campus. The golf tournament was also a sponsor of Untucked and the Hillman Series.
  • Three movies rented space on SSA’s campuses in 2014 to film scenes and/or host basecamp, creating an additional revenue stream for the Academy.
  • Facility rentals continue to be an important revenue stream, and a full-time facility rentals coordinator position was added in 2017 to facilitate growth in this area.

Design a capital campaign to support the school’s strategic vision and priorities.

  • The Development and Campaign Planning Committee was charged with researching and developing a realistic plan to meet funding targets for endowment and capital projects outlined in the strategic vision, and to recommend campaign leadership and committee members.
  • Peer and aspirational schools were researched regarding development staffing, budgets, capital and endowment goals, and more.
  • Keys to successful campaign fundraising were identified, including: the commitment of staff and budget resources to research, travel and conduct face-to-face cultivation and solicitation; continued and greater transparency with financials; master plan and goal setting; a compelling case for support that illustrates gift impact; and early leadership donations with 100% board participation to inspire enthusiasm for the campaign launch.
  • Committee recommendations included: investing in new staff and research software; working with the board to set specific, realistic project goals and a ranking sequence of those goals; creating the case for support to begin solicitation of trustees, leadership and other donors; determining overall campaign budget.
  • Wealth Engine Prospect Research software was purchased in 2013 to help SSA begin identifying and engaging potential donors.
  • A new campaign director position was approved by the board for 2013-2014, returning Alumni & Development staffing to a level closer to that of the last campaign.
  • The Campaign Planning Committee engaged the services of Campbell & Company to conduct a philanthropic market study and to help create a case for support.
  • In October 2014, the board passed a resolution to move forward with the leadership phase of The Campaign for Shady Side, a $31 million capital campaign focusing on raising funds for science and technology facilities, growing endowment for faculty support and financial aid, and growing the Blue & Gold Fund.
  • Through 2017-2018, The Campaign for Shady Side had raised more than $26 million, including funding the construction of the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation at the Senior School.

Develop marketing and communications strategies to support the school’s strategic vision and priorities.

  • Multimedia communications strategies were developed to promote the strategic vision launch and implementation, as well as to highlight stories and programs that illustrate the strategic vision via the SSA website, magazine, newsletter, social media and public relations efforts.
  • Feature stories for the website and magazine were purposefully selected to illustrate strategic priorities, such as science, faculty, community connections and service.
  • A President’s Blog and Twitter account launched in 2014, providing a new way for President Tom Cangiano to communicate directly to the community about strategic priorities and accomplishments.
  • A new admissions marketing campaign was developed in partnership with Creosote Affects, an educational marketing agency with strong independent school experience. The campaign, launched in 2013, was grounded in two years of market research, including the strategic vision and strategic plan surveys, and included an interactive online viewbook, direct mail and advertisements with the theme "Shine at Shady Side." “Day in the Life” videos for all three schools and boarding were added in 2014.
  • After the introduction of seven-day boarding and Country Day School merger, and a fresh round of market research, a new admissions marketing campaign was launched in 2017 with the theme "Because “How” Matters." Advertising, direct mail, viewbook and inquiry fulfillment materials showcase examples of how our academic program uniquely prepares students for success at every division. This messaging has been infused into the website was featured as the cover story of the winter 2017-2018 magazine.

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