Healthy State of St. Margaret’s Focusing on Innovation, Student Growth and Wellness

The state of St. Margaret’s is strong! That was the significant takeaway after a detailed presentation of the school’s finances, academic program, strategic initiatives and school management last Thursday during the 2019 State of the School Address for parents.

Head of School Will Moseley was joined by Board of Trustees President Paul Westhead and PTF President Jill Golubow to share the school’s financial health, the operations of the Board of Trustees and the impact of the parent community through the Parent Teacher Fellowship. The meeting began with an engaging film highlighting current student feedback from Lower School to Upper School on the school’s strategic efforts to improve the student learning experience with their input and needs at the center. (see the film here.)

Mr. Moseley shared the school’s healthy and stable financial picture that included assets, full enrollment, strong admission history and projections, cost containment efforts, recent facilities improvements and the growth of endowment to nearly $12 million, which has quadrupled in the past five years. He also shared the direct relation between the school’s annual operating budget and the generous annual giving support of the parent community. Ninety-six percent of parents contributed to St. Margaret’s in some form in the past year.

Mr. Westhead explained the role of the Board in safeguarding the mission of the school and long-term strategic planning, finance and fundraising, and support of the head of school. Mrs. Golubow detailed the various community building and programs fundraising efforts led by the PTF, including the PTF Grants Program, Parent Up Speakers Series, the Hot Lunch Program and Forever Plaid Annual Fundraiser.

Additionally, Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem provided a report on the implementation of the school’s strategic priorities, including student feedback on the new schedule and updates on the Innovation Block mini-courses and Service Learning program. He also introduced new strategic leadership to advance key areas of priority: Athletic Director Patrick Bendzick, leading health and wellness, Director of Library and Digital Literacy Angela Mackenzie leading digital citizenship, and Director of Equity and Inclusion Victor Cota, leading cultural competency. Each provided an update on current projects and upcoming initiatives.

Mr. Dahlem also previewed coming initiatives that include student personal goal setting and reflection, student peer connections, homework analysis, global partnerships and an entrepreneurship incubator pilot.

Upper School Principal Jeneen Graham presented comprehensive insights into the school’s ongoing tracking and analysis of student learning, growth and achievement. She shared the school’s various assessment tools, like ERB, AP and ACT, the process for benchmarking St. Margaret’s strong academic performance against other leading independent schools across the nation, and sample grade-level cohort longitudinal data showing how well St. Margaret’s students are growing and achieving.

Mr. Moseley also shared the tuition rates for the 2019-2020, which were included in the re-enrollment information sent to all January 24. He explained the extensive budgeting process of the school, including the largest item in the budget, competitive salaries to retain and recruit the best and brightest faculty preserving the quality of the St. Margaret’s experience. He also charted the 10-year tuition history of the school and St. Margaret’s comparatively low tuition rates to other leading independent schools in California and across the nation. For the 2019-2020 school year, he said, the tuition increase matches the lowest rate in the past seven years.

“St. Margaret’s continues on an extraordinary trajectory of innovation and excellence with the student experience at the center of our work. In the past year, we have introduced new course offerings, teaching models, technologies and resources, and enhanced learning environments which allow for increased student choice, engagement and relevance of learning. We have equally prioritized student health and wellness through the new school schedule which students say better supports their wellness, healthy sleep habits and their academic performance,” Mr. Moseley said. “On behalf of our professional learning community, we remain engaged in this work and excited to continue to advance these efforts and focus on new initiatives in the coming year to support the vigorous learning and growth of our students.”

Below are some of the highlights from the State of the School presentation:
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California