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Letter from the Board January, 7 2015

January 7, 2015

Dear Hannah Senesh Parents, Faculty, and Staff,

As you know, throughout the 2014-15 school year, Hannah Senesh is undertaking a significant strategic planning effort. Skip Kotkins of Carney, Sandoe & Associates, the independent consultant hired by the Strategic Planning Committee, conducted internal and external meetings to complement other input such as admissions and financial aid data, parent surveys, and comparative data from other schools that will inform the plan’s direction. Many thanks to those of you who participated in conversations with Skip.

In the spirit of transparency and inclusivity we have committed to since the beginning, we’re writing today to share Skip’s key takeaways. The overarching message Skip shared is that we have much to celebrate and build upon as we focus our continuous improvement efforts in some particular areas.

More specifically, there is general consensus that:

1. Affordability is a key challenge: our sustainability and our diversity depend on it.

2. Hannah Senesh makes parents, students and alumni feel at home:
o This is their community; they feel nurtured and known.
o They feel comfortable being who they are — every language, style of Jewishness, socio-economic level, and country of origin is embraced.
o They feel a stake in Senesh — that we are all in this together.

3. Senesh is a high-quality learning institution:
o Eighth graders are accepted by excellent high schools of their choice and graduate from Senesh with self-confidence.
o Senesh is committed to continuous improvement, creativity, innovation, and calculated risk-taking.
o Faculty and administrators are skilled, dedicated, and deeply care for students and their families. The Board is adept.
o Senesh has a positive reputation in our broader community.

4. Senesh can continue to improve its program by:
o Fine tuning our identity and mission to inform programmatic and policy choices around the evolution of secular, Hebrew, and Judaic studies.
o Being more explicit about Senesh’s pedagogy and academic standards and how Senesh applies them.
o Continuing to explore the best ways to involve and offer programming to families
o Continuing our efforts to hire and retain high-quality faculty and staff, and to support their professional growth and development.

5. Communication is improving and can still be better. For instance:
o Tell our story better.
o Streamline communications to parents, including by using the latest technology.
o Foster genuine, open, two-way communication with parents.

The Strategic Planning Committee is working through this feedback now as well as many other sources of data and insights. We will update you again in the forthcoming months with the strategic plan’s emerging direction based on our analysis of the variety of sources we are drawing upon.

For more information about the process timeline, committee members, and consultant, please visit http://www.hannahsenesh.org/about-us/board-of-trustees/strategic-plan-2014-15.

If you have any questions about the strategic planning process, please reach out to any of the members of the Committee at any time. We look forward to hearing more of your ideas, insights and questions!


Amy and Marcella, Committee Co-Chairs
Debra, Emily, Iris, JJ, Jordy, Lisa, and Nicole, Committee Members