• Designing an Administrative Retreat that Reflects Your

    Strategic Plan 



    In July 2022, the Lenape Valley Regional High School {located in Sussex County, NJ} leadership team met for two full days of professional learning.  Goals for the ‘retreat’ included: targeting and increasing pathways for student engagement, coordination and articulation with our sending districts, establishing short and long-range objectives aimed at mental health and social emotional learning {SEL}, and an identification of salient leadership attributes that are adaptable in an ever-changing educational world.  All of these were housed within Vision 2027, Lenape’s Strategic Plan. 


    Developing the Process

    The planning process for the July 2022 retreat began in fall, 2021.  We began by asking one fundamental question of each member of our leadership team: what are your strengths, weaknesses and challenges?  We asked each respondent to identify those about themselves individually and about their department(s) collectively.  As 2021 turned into 2022, the District was putting the final touches on our long-range strategic plan.  The final product consists of four major domains: Multiple Educational Pathways, SEL/Health & Wellness, Community Outreach, Facilities.  With this, our attention then turned to creating a fusion among individual needs, departmental/content area challenges, and Vision 2027

    The Retreat

    We included everyone, from athletics, buildings & grounds, guidance, content supervisors, principal, VP, and me. Second, we invited our K-8 ‘sending’ district leadership. This combination enabled, and is some instances forced us, to recognize how all members of the learning community impact a student’s experience. We dialogued about the most important, current and local leadership characteristics and how they manifest with teachers, parents, students, community members and one another.

    The latter part of the retreat attended to SEL and Mental Health.  We spoke at challenges stemming from COVID-19, everyday stressors working in public education, the importance of finding healthy outlets {for ourselves, staff and students}, and how we can infuse both SEL and Health & Wellness throughout the school day. A critically important component of our process was the built-in reflective periods where we documented our thoughts. Throughout each part, we paid special attention to how ‘adjunct’ areas need to be contemplated at all times, such as finances, facilities, trustees, the student voice, parents, and the community. 


    The retreat outcomes were altogether positive, both qualitatively and quantitively. On the qualitative side, exit ticket feedback from attendees included “well planned; useful topics; great experience; thank you for reigniting my passion”; and much more.  More importantly, the reflection sessions and documentation from them produced tangible and clearly articulated statements that pinpointed things we do well, deficiencies, areas we need to emphasize, and clearly defined ‘next steps’. For example, Lenape Valley’s 2022 – 2023 District Goals were born during the retreat. They are all completely aligned to Vision 2027.      

    On the quantitative side, we demonstrated measurable and impactful statistical outcomes. 

    Paired samples t-tests were proposed to determine if the differences in the pre and post responses were statistically significant. All p-values were significant at the .005 level and three were significant at the .001 level. The results are indicated below:

    1. There are specific metrics that can be used to measure college and career readiness.

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    2. Organizational success depends largely on having measurable goals, clearly defined processes to achieve those goals, and "rounding" at specific intervals.



    3. "Agility" is what enables leaders to remain committed to their vision during volatile, complex and uncertain times.


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    4. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is as or more important than academic programs.



    5. It is possible to infuse SEL across the entire curricula.

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    **Special thanks is given to Statistics Solutions who ran and analyzed the results. 


    A strategic plan is arguably the most vital element to any organization.  At Lenape Valley, we sought to create a learning experience that would jumpstart the implementation of Vision 2027.  The effects were both immediate and far reaching. Moreover, it was a bonding experience for the regional high school and sending K-8s.