Strategic Planning

Tandem Friends School
Strategic Planning

What we are striving to build is a school where children truly learn -
about themselves and the world, about the relationships between past, present and future.
~ Founders John Howard & Duncan Alling
(from the original prospectus of the Tandem School)

For Tandem, finding the Friends has been like finding a home. It seems familiar and comforting and it has brought a focus to our work and to the life of the School.
~ Former Head of School, Rosalyn Berne
(from the formal request to Friends Council on Education to be considered a Friends School)

A happy and excited child learns far faster than a bored child.
~ from Tandem's first admissions materials

From the start, our school has been bold, progressive, and innovative, focused on the intellectual and human development of our students. From its beginnings in 1970, Tandem has sought to offer the most essential and relevant education possible in an egalitarian, integrated and co-educational setting. We have always focused on preparing our students to be intellectually engaged and self-assured. Becoming a Friends (Quaker) school in 1996 was another bold and essential move in the life of our young school. We found connectedness to a rich, longstanding tradition of inquiry, spiritual development, and values-based education that aligned with our founding principles and provided an enduring touchstone as we grew and flourished.

As we prepare for our 50th anniversary, Tandem Friends School has been working to develop its next strategic plan. Over the past year, we have worked hard to engage our whole community in this process. Together, we strive to be a leading Friends educational institution, and for our program to reflect our tradition of excellence in content, teaching methods, and understanding of the needs of middle and high school students, preparing them for all that they can, and will, contribute to our world.

Please be on the lookout for additional updates about the strategic planning process that may be communicated by email or, for those who receive it, in the Friday Letter.  We will also post appropriate information on this page.
If you are aware of any members of the Tandem Friends School community (particularly alumni, past parents, or other community friends/partners) who would like to be kept up-to-date about the strategic planning process but do not currently receive communications from us, please notify one of the members of the Strategic Planning (Phase Two) Steering Committee listed on this page.

Strategic Planning FAQs

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: What is a strategic plan?

    In the broadest of terms, a strategic plan is a vision for the future that describes what the school is, imagines what it could be, and sets a course toward its future goals over a several-year timeframe. In addition to a broad “vision,” a strategic plan includes “action items” that outline, in general terms, the steps that Tandem Friends will take to carry out the strategic plan.
    Once the strategic plan is approved, school leadership will determine how to implement the plan (with the flexibility to make adjustments on an ongoing basis). 
  • Q: Haven't we done this before?

    Tandem’s strategic plans have generally addressed a three-to-five-year timeframe. The last strategic plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2012. A new strategic plan was drafted in March 2016 but was not finalized.

    Over the past two years, many of us have participated in important discussions about Tandem’s strategic direction (including, for example, during the recent head of school search, and ongoing faculty and staff discussions about Tandem’s mission and curriculum). The feedback from these and other conversations has been helpful during Phase One of our planning work, and we will need additional input as we move forward.
  • Q: Who will be involved and how?

    Throughout this process, we have sought input from everyone in the Tandem Friends community, including, but not limited to, parents, students, alumni, administrators, faculty and staff, and other community friends and partners, and we appreciate the generosity of our community with both their time and expertise.  

    The Board of Trustees established a Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which solicited community input during Phase One through both surveys and group events/discussions. Two working groups were established to explore aspects of our Educational Program: Students-as-Learners and Students-as-Whole-People.

    For Phase Two, we have retained a professional consultant, Ginny Christensen (details below) who is working with a Strategic Planning (Phase Two) Steering Committee.

    In addition to the Opening Session for all community members, Ginny will be conducting separate dedicated sessions with the Board of Trustees and with Faculty/Staff in October and November.

    Also this Fall the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will be inviting community members to join topic-specific working groups whose work will commence in mid-November with a kick-off event on Monday evening, November 19th, and continue through (what those of us on a school calendar sometimes think of as) the “winter sports season.” We would especially like to thank, in advance, community members who will be serving on these working groups. We understand that we all have many demands on our limited time, and appreciate your willingness to prioritize Tandem Friends School among the places where you employ your energies and talents.

    Please be on the lookout for additional updates about strategic planning that may be communicated by email or, for those who receive it, in the Friday Letter.

    If you are aware of any members of the Tandem Friends School community—particularly alumni, past parents, or other community friends/partners—who would like to be kept up-to-date about this (or any other Tandem Friends news), but do not currently receive communications from us, please let us know!
  • Q: When will this be happening?

    In the Fall of 2017, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to complete the strategic planning process in two phases. Phase One, during the 2017–18 school year, and focused specifically on Tandem Friends School’s educational program. 
    Phase Two, during the 2018–19 school year, is focusing on the other strategic priority areas of community (supporting school constitutuencies), “telling our story” (to prospective, current, and alum community members), strategic financial planning, campus master planning, fundraising, and spiritual life/Quakerism. School leadership had made, and will continue to make, operational improvements to all areas of the school during the strategic planning process.

  • Q: Where are we in the process now and how can I get involved?

    We are currently working on Phase Two of the Strategic Planning Process. Phase Two builds on last year's focus on educational school program, focusing on supporting our community (supporting school constituencies), “telling our story” (to prospective, current, and alum community members), strategic financial planning, campus master planning, fundraising, and spiritual life/Quakerism.
  • Q: What happened in Phase One?

    Phase One focused on the Educational Program. We used this term broadly to encompass: TFS’s academic program (both core and elective, including providing appropriate support and challenge); co-curricular program (including no-cut athletics, arts/drama & music, health, advisory, experiential education, community service, speaker series, clubs/activities, college advising); and additional elements of Quaker (Friends) school identity that are reflected in program, not mentioned above (including Meeting for Worship, query groups, and Quaker decision-making practice).

    An initial strategic planning survey, for community members to share their knowledge and reflections about Tandem Friends' educational program, was made available during Phase One to all members of the TFS community.
    In January 2018, nearly 100 community members participated in one of two Visioning Sessions (for Phase one of the Strategic Plan, focusing on Educational Program), facilitated by Drew Smith, Executive Director of the Friends Council on Education. 

    After the January Visioning Sessions, two Strategic Planning working groups were formed, each with a particular focus:
    Students-as-Learners: Prepare middle and high school students for higher education in ways that encourage the realization of each student’s unique potential.  Working group members included the following:
    • Tucker Winter (clerk): TFS upper school teacher (English); current parent
    • Alex Siragy: TFS upper school teacher (Science)
    • Ann McAndrew: Educator (former director of TFS’s Learning Resource Center, former director of Albemarle County’s Bright Stars program)
    • Barbara Studholme: TFS librarian & senior project advisor; past parent
    • Julia Sapir: TFS middle school teacher (5th/6th grade); alumna
    • Josh Bowers: Professor, UVA School of Law; current parent
    • Lois Myers: Associate Director, UVA Office of Institutional Assessment and Studies; past TFS board member; past parent
    • Lori Schuyler: Vice President for Planning & Policy, University of Richmond; current parent
    • Melissa Winder: TFS upper school teacher (History); coach; past parent
    • Peter Gaines: TFS upper school director; Strategic Planning Steering Committee member; current parent.
    Students-as-Whole-People: Prepare middle and high school students for fulfilling lives of integrity, creativity and service, in the context of a supportive values-based community. Working group members included the following:
    • Jocelyn Camarata (clerk): TFS upper school teacher (Science) & dean of 9th/10th grade student life; current parent
    • Heather Macalister: Chair, Psychology department, Mary Baldwin College (expertise in lifespan developmental psychology); current parent
    • Heidi Passino - TFS Learning Resource Center tutor; current parent
    • Jason Farr: TFS upper school teacher (History); coach; current parent
    • Laurel Henneman: Strategic Planning Steering Committee clerk & current board member; Quaker school alumna; current parent
    • Mark Goldstein: TFS teacher (Music) & dean of 11th/12th grade student life
    • Mark Ratzlaff: Clinical social worker/psychotherapist (expertise working with adolescents); current parent
    • Matt Caduff: TFS middle school teacher (5th/6th grade); spouse of TFS alumna; current parent
    • Meredith Kalnite: PTA leadership; current parent
    • Monica Johnson: Mental health clinician at Region Ten; TFS alumna; TFS counselor
    • Susie Bruce: Director, UVA Gordie Center for substance abuse prevention; current parent.
  • Q: Who is the consultant for Phase Two?

    For Phase Two, we have engaged a seasoned professional consultant, Ginny Christensen with Strategy for Growth, LLC, to help us, building on the excellent work we accomplished last school year.  In her consultancy, Ginny provides strategic planning, board development, executive coaching, and leadership team development for independent schools and nonprofits. She is a leading professional in guiding strategic decision-making at independent schools, with a particular focus on Quaker schools. Ginny has served as a head of school, administrator, teacher, and trustee, and has published and presented on issues of board development, strategic planning, professional development for teachers, curriculum design, and personal and institutional growth.

Phase Two: Take the Survey

In October, Tandem Friends School kicked off Phase TWO of its Strategic Planning Process.  Thank you to those who participated in our Phase TWO opening session on October 19th, facilitated by our strategic planning consultant, Ginny Christensen, from Strategy for Growth.

If you had additional thoughts to share after the opening session, or were unable to attend, we are continuing to seek additional input as we embark on Phase TWO: Please take a moment to complete this survey. Add your voice to this process as we build on our strengths together.

The focus of last year's Phase ONE was on school program. This year's phase TWO builds on last year's school program work with focuses on supporting our school constituencies, telling our story, strategic financial planning, campus master planning, fundraising, and spiritual life/Quakerism.

Strategic Planning Phase Two Steering Committee

List of 5 members.

  • Mary Chinn 

  • Peter Gaines 

  • Laurel Henneman 

  • John Minturn 03

  • Whitney Thompson