Knowing that the divine is present within each student, St. Joseph School lovingly educates its students to become the people God means them to be. To best bring out the unique gifts God has graced our students with, we regularly engage in strategic planning, helping the school ensure it has the necessary tools to carry out its holy and important work. This plan will guide the school for the next 5-10 years, as we approach the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
Guided by the idea of cura personalis (care for the person), this plan demonstrates a commitment to caring for the students in our care as well as the physical spaces in which we educate them. While the students of today are a focus, our eyes are also focused on the horizon as we ask ourselves the question: What might we do today that will benefit us now and in future generations?
Since 1907, St. Joseph School has educated thousands of students. In the years since its last strategic plan, A New Messina (2016-2021), the school has continued to thrive. As a founding member of the Ignatian Elementary Schools Network, a national group of Jesuit parish grade schools, St. Joe’s has strengthened its identity as a school in the Jesuit tradition. The school has enjoyed consistent and strong leadership at all levels, enabling us to function efficiently and professionally in pursuit of our mission. The school offers a rigorous curriculum and electives program that launches new cadres of well-prepared and well-formed graduates who enter the area’s best high schools each year.
Having achieved the goals of A New Messina, but coming out of a global pandemic, Head of School Patrick Fennessy, engaged the services of Managing for Mission to help create the next strategic plan. With the strong support of Deacon Steve Wodzanowski and the School Commission, Patrick invited current parent and school commission member, Pat Suarez to chair a steering committee. Pat, Patrick, and Steve then selected a group of current and past parents, alumni, faculty, leaders from other Catholic schools, and staff to serve as the steering committee. The members of the committee were Anne Balicki, Emily Bassett, Michael Connell, Robby Hayes, Andrea Lines, Brad Moodie, Erin Oest-Larsen, Rad Roberts, Selome Teshome, and Steve Wodzanowski. The steering committee also received invaluable assistance and input from Primary School Director Mary Helen Bever, and Middle School Director Vince McGovern.
From the beginning, it was crucial that the strategic planning effort cast a wide net to encompass our growing and diverse set of constituents. Drawing on our Ignatian roots, the School Commission wanted as many voices as possible to aid in the discernment process. To achieve that, all members of the St. Joe’s community were invited to participate in the plan’s creation. The response was overwhelming. Over 500 members of our community contributed to this plan by completing surveys, attending a stakeholders’ meeting, serving on topic teams, and reviewing initial drafts. This strategic plan is the result of an entire community’s insights and hard work and will serve the St. Joe’s community well for the next five years.
Many varied and visionary ideas came forward during this process. While only some are specifically delineated in the plan, the rest are here in spirit, will be included in the school’s accreditation process, or are already being implemented. The strategic planning brought to light the true commitment of this community to the ongoing success of St. Joseph School and we are confident of the continued energy and support from our constituents as we implement this plan.
The plan itself is anchored in the school’s Mission Statement, which reads:
St. Joseph School is a faith-centered community that educates and inspires students to reach their God-given potential.
The Strategic Plan process provides a vision for how the Mission Statement will be accomplished over the next 5-10 years. At St. Joseph School, we believe in making the highest quality, Catholic, Jesuit education accessible and affordable to all. We are committed to developing, recruiting, and compensating outstanding educators who deliver a proven and challenging curriculum to a diverse student body. We are intent on developing and maintaining an excellent facility where all students are able to achieve their God-given potential and are prepared for the rigors of the world they encounter. Central to all of this is a nurturing and inclusive community, rooted in our Catholic and Ignatian values, where everyone belongs. Our students, from their first day to their last, work towards becoming people who are loving, open to growth, religious, committed to justice, and intellectually competent. They are people for others.
The steering committee noted the many changes to the culture and demographics of our city, as well as the needs of our students and facilities. With these changes in mind, this strategic plan prepares the school for its next chapter.
What will that next chapter hold for us? As this community came together over the last year for the Strategic Planning process, people shared their experiences and their hopes for the future. Engaging stakeholder meetings, topic team sessions, community-wide surveys, and a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis, the steering committee was able to clarify our common priorities and hopes for the future.
The St. Joe’s community wants to embrace its city and be embraced by the parish of which it is part. It envisions a school that remains true to its Catholic, Jesuit spirit by working at the crossroads of our faith and the culture, but is firmly grounded in an evolving 115-year tradition of educating on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. It envisions students and their families feeling a greater sense of belonging to the community, demonstrating the inclusiveness that America as a whole has longed for but not yet fully achieved.
The Jesuit principle of cura personalis (care for the person) is central to this new strategic plan. Paramount to the needs of the school is an expanded staff and targeted resources that support students’ social-emotional growth. We envision St. Joseph School as a nurturing, Christ-centered oasis amidst the social pressures that contribute to students’ vulnerability and isolation. The community wants the parish and school to work together to plan and develop their shared home, where all members truly belong. The school is committed to further developing the campus by utilizing new technologies to benefit the environment while providing safe space for more outdoor sports and recreation as well as on-campus parking.
The goals outlined in this plan will focus our energies and resources on key areas that will help our students, community, and facilities face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
In partnership with the parish, collaborate to form faith-filled students committed to service to others and consistent, meaningful liturgical participation.
As the population of Catholics declines in Seattle, the school must find ways to better articulate, strengthen, and promote its Catholic mission and identity, demonstrating the particular richness of the Jesuit parish school experience. The school must recommit itself to instilling in students a habit of serving others, knowing that this is exactly what Christ calls us to do.
Advance and transform the culture and environment where everyone welcomes, values, and supports a diverse school community.
As the surrounding culture becomes more aware of the historic injustices that have befallen underrepresented populations, the school must work, informed and inspired by the Gospel message, to create structures that ensure a true sense of belonging among all members of the community. We do this work not because it’s fashionable at the moment, but because it’s what Jesus calls us to do as Christians.
In partnership with the parish, create and implement a modernization and preservation plan for all campus facilities and grounds
With its oldest buildings nearing 100 years of service, St. Joseph School needs to focus on the growing needs of campus facilities, grounds, and infrastructure, ensuring the parish and school can continue to serve the community for the next century. Achieving this goal will be a visible example of the school’s commitment to providing the absolute best and safest environment in which to achieve its mission.
Each year, the administration will develop an annual implementation plan (AIP) that specifically details how each goal will be carried out in the upcoming year. The Head of School will report the AIP’s progress to the School Commission.
The community will be kept apprised of the progress of the strategic plan via school communications like the FLASH! and Reconnections, social media channels, parish communications, and on-campus events.
St. Joseph School continues to educate and inspire students to reach their God-given potential. As our community, city, and world continue to change, we have an even greater call to nurture the hearts and minds of our students so they can best serve the global community. This plan embraces the core values of our Catholic faith, reinforces stronger ties to our Jesuit tradition, fosters a more inclusive community, addresses the need to increase our ability to care for the whole person (cura personalis), and plans for the physical plant’s continued evolution. Achieving the ambitious goals in this plan will ensure St. Joseph School thrives and continues to inspire students into lives of service to others.
To fully realize the promise of this plan, we will need the loving and dedicated support of the entire St. Joe’s community: students, families, parishioners, faculty and staff, alumni, benefactors, and all people who understand the need for an education that forms young women and men who are intellectually competent, loving, religious, committed to justice, and open to growth. These “pillars” as we call them help us thrive as a Catholic school in the Jesuit tradition. We invite you to join us as we implement this plan and forge a path for St. Joseph School into a successful future.