Wooster’s organizational structure should be designed to help us create and deliver excellent learning experiences for students that unfold on a continuum which spans grades Pre-K – 12. The “form” of how we manage of our people, resources, and curriculum should follow our commitment to this “function.” Creating continuity requires systems that support information sharing, informed decision making, and decisive implementation of those decisions. Sound organizational structures also support effective, consistent communication with stakeholders and financial responsibility and efficiency. The reorganization that we outline in this section are designed to move us closer to these goals.
The restructuring of existing administrative roles, systems, processes and committees at Wooster School is designed to improve the school’s efficiency and effectiveness in several core areas. The implementation of these modifications will produce a much improved learning experience for students by helping to create a stronger continuum of skill-based learning, and more effective learning experiences, from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade. This redesigned structure will also foster more efficient communication, and more consistent systems, processes and expectations across all grade levels.
Beginning in 2014-15, the Middle and Upper Schools of Wooster will be managed by a single administrative team. While both divisions currently operate under the aegis of the overall Wooster School mission and philosophies, numerous stakeholders report that the two divisions are viewed by parents, and by staff members, as two separate schools. This separateness exists despite the fact that numerous staff members are shared between the two divisions. Organizing the two divisions under one leadership team will help to promote programmatic continuity, enhance the clarity of internal and external communication, and provide a more seamless transition between the two divisions.
Placing the entire 6-12 Wooster program under the leadership of a single team will allow the combined divisions to create 6-12 programs and philosophies designed to provide our students with expanded individual learning opportunities within a well-defined continuum. Put simply, we will know what students should know, understand and be able to do at each grade level, and in all disciplines so that each builds on what came before to the benefit of students.
While the learning environments and programs will continue to be developmentally and age appropriate, opportunities for individual student acceleration, support for struggling learners, and access to enrichment activities will be expanded and improved. Faculty will also benefit from access to more frequent, more focused professional learning opportunities. We are very pleased that Mr. David Newman, current Upper School Head, has agreed to take on the responsibility for Middle and Upper Schools.
Over the last two years, the Prospect School has experienced impressive growth in the 6th through 8th grades. With their integration into the life of the Middle School, our 6th - 8th grade Prospect students have flourished, both as learners and community members. As a result of the demonstrated success of this initiative, and consequent demand, beginning in 2014-15 the Prospect Program will focus solely on grades 6 through 8, and be housed in Wellington Cottage on the Wooster Main Campus. The Board of Trustees will manage the disposition of the existing Prospect School building.
From a programmatic perspective, moving the program closer to the Wooster Middle School provides opportunities for more efficient and effective connections between the two programs, and will cut down on the amount of time that students spend traveling between the two sites. Wooster Middle School students will also gain better access to learning support from expert Prospect staff members.
Finally, bringing the two programs together on campus will also allow for shared administrative oversight, creating a more seamless communication structure for families, and opportunities for efficiencies between the two programs. We are convinced that contracting the program to focus on these strengths, and bringing it on to campus in close proximity to the Middle School, will allow us to grow the Prospect Program into the premier program of its kind in the region.
Contraction of the Lower School has occurred naturally over the last several years, driven by demographics and the economy in the region. Based upon our analysis of these trends and our plans for overall institutional growth, school administration and the Board of Trustees feel strongly that a single-section Lower School, with the possible exception of two sections each at the 4th and 5th grade levels in 2014-15, will serve the institution well, and allow it to continue to be the vibrant, wonderful place that we all love. Given this contraction, Pre-K and Kindergarten classes will be housed in Grover Hall for the 2014-15 school year.
Because the Prospect Program is being brought on to campus, and because both programs are contracting, a single administrative team will manage both the Lower School and Prospect Program. The Lower School Division Head will be housed in the Lower School and continue to manage all aspects of the Lower School program on a daily basis. The Prospect Program will have an administrator at the Assistant Head level who is responsible for the daily operations of the program, while also reporting directly to the Lower School Division Head. Dr. Stephanie Bell, who will assume the leadership of the Lower School and Prospect Program is uniquely qualified for this position, having run the Prospect School for the last two years and prior to that having long experience in lower school settings in New York.