The Notebook

Conversations about Learning, Educating, and Teaching

Interview: Susan Santos on Lesley Ellis School's New Strategic Plan
mtringali ::: Lesley Ellis School, Interview

Lesley Ellis SchoolLesley Ellis School's low student-teacher ratio is a key factor in its success. Photo by Richard Howard.

Lesley Ellis School recently unveiled a new strategic plan to its parent community. We asked the School's advisory board chair, Susan Santos, a few questions about the school's ambitions.

Lesley Ellis School just completed a new strategic plan. Is there a theme?
Yes. The theme is From Vision to Results. Our last plan was pretty well accomplished over the last five years and it brought the school from a Preschool to Grade 3 program to a Preschool to Grade 5 with a new transitional kindergarten. Vision to Results is about how Lesley Ellis School sees itself in the future and then making sure we take the steps to get there.

You've made program enhancement a priority. Why?
We’re expanding to Grade 6 in 2011. That alone will have the effect of enriching the entire curriculum. We have interesting program enhancements to support our new 6th grade and will offer a broader array of choices especially in the elementary program. For example, we’ll be introducing arts electives that include ceramics, a rock band performance unit, and television production in addition to our other fine and performing arts offerings. We’re also adding new aftershool options such as fencing and rock climbing. And we’ll be introducing a unique elementary school engineering program in partnership with our neighbor, Tufts University. We believe we have an outstanding program—one of the best and most innovative in the area. And as we have seen, innovation attracts great teachers and more interest from families.

We think our students will also benefit from new choices. When a child becomes truly engaged in what they are learning, when we are able to light a spark, anything is possible. 

Another major goal concerns facilities. You've been in Arlington, MA's Gibbs building for 21 years. What will a new facility be able to provide?
From my perspective a new facility is critical—it will allow us to be more competitive with other area independent schools. It will enable richer athletics, sciences and arts and it’s really a key for the long-term success of our upper elementary program.  In the meantime, we’re focused on offering an outstanding program—we have to be the best of the best because we simply don't have the physical plant that many of our competitor schools have.

Lesley Ellis School does seem to be on a roll—expanding to Grade 6, and new programs. What's not changing?
What's not changing is our strong sense of community and our focus on children and making decisions based on what's in their best interest. Also not changing will be our deep commitment to excellence in teaching and our focus on children as individuals—with different backgrounds, different interests, and different strengths and weaknesses. We have superb teachers and a wonderful teacher-student ratio that will continue because this is where the magic happens. A low teacher-student ratio is critical to making it possible for each child to learn in ways that best support their individual development. 
 
From the very beginning, we’ve been a school focused on that moment when a great teacher sparks a child’s curiosity and engages them  That’s when children start to reach and really learn. And that’s what this school is all about.


To learn more about Lesley Ellis School, please visit the school's website.

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