Board of Trustees Annual Report
August 1, 2021
Dear Notre Dame Academy community,
“You have a unique treasure of a Private Academy in Central Massachusetts, and we must forward that message to the greater community.”
This was a message to the Board of Trustees from a parent in a recent survey. We are very grateful to those who shared their thoughts and feedback on the Academy. This information, coupled with our work as a Board of Trustees and that of the NDA Leadership team enable us to share with you our progress, in this inaugural edition of the State of the School report.
In this, our 70th year of faith, family, and excellence in education, Notre Dame Academy (NDA) is proud and confident in our purpose and in our mission. Since 2019, NDA has been engaged in a comprehensive institutional evaluation and redesign. Our strategic planning process continues to guide us as we strive to achieve bold goals in curriculum design, innovative teaching and learning, faith and character development, and strategic community partnerships. The two most significant outcomes of our ongoing strategic work are:
1. A New Leadership Model
Central Massachusetts needs choice. As a Catholic mission-based all girl’s school, NDA has something special and unique to offer. NDA is a jewel to be marketed to the broad community and we recognize the need to increase awareness of our brand to our potential new families and to new and existing supporters. Our students are inquisitive and confident learners. Our faculty are committed to developing independent critical thinkers with the confidence to question, take risks, and develop solutions. Our families are committed, supportive advocates. Our alum are passionate change-makers across the globe. We have a great story to tell.
The major challenge for NDA is the reality that tuition and traditional annual fundraising dollars alone are not enough to sustain NDA in regular times, and certainly not through these challenging times. We are committed to growing a robust and sustainable NDA and we have focused our efforts on that work with the implementation of a Head of School / Principal model. By separating the former Principal-only model of leadership, NDA has the capacity to drive the resource development needs of the school through fundraising, marketing, and strategic partnership, while also expanding the attention to curriculum, education excellence, wrap-a-round supports, and faculty development.
Going forward, the Head of School will focus on the following objectives:
- To deeply understand NDA’s mission, identity, and culture and grow its place among the other schools against which it competes.
- To ensure sustainable financial and social capital that supports the strategic plan goals.
- To develop and market the brand which amplifies confidence and trust within every one of NDA’s key constituencies, including current and potential families, donors, the alum network, and the central Massachusetts community.
- To serve as a strategic thought partner to the Board, ensuring we are responding to the needs of our students and families, our faculty at staff, and the educational environment in central Massachusetts and beyond.
- We are very fortunate that Lisa Mancini, our Head of School and Susan Butler, our Principal are very capable and well respected leaders prepared to make this shift to ensure the long term success of NDA.
2. The Ability to Change
During the past year, NDA demonstrated the capacity and initiative to adapt to the unprecedented impacts of the COVID pandemic. Our stable infrastructure fostered safe, uninterrupted teaching and learning throughout the entire school year. The NDA community kept our students engaged through technology design and integration while implementing an effective hybrid remote learning platform supporting grades 7-12. Our faculty and staff successfully developed and managed this plan through strong leadership, creativity, and collaborative engagement. This dynamic eLearning environment and commitment distinguished NDA from other local schools and was one of the drivers of our 30% enrollment growth in the last two years. We have emerged from the pandemic stronger and more adaptable to change. There is no looking back. We are focused on the future, leveraging the lessons learned from the pandemic, the experience and knowledge of new staff and faculty, and the continuous constructive feedback from the NDA and central Massachusetts community. To continue to keep a visionary focus on the future, last year the Board of Trustees assembled the following Committees to work in conjunction with the Head of School and Leadership team to refine and formalize NDA’s Strategic Plan.
Educational Programs Committee – Work with NDA Administration and Faculty, to oversee the development of a rigorous curriculum with high expectations for all students in accordance with the mission of the school and based on the life and teachings of St. Julie Billiart.
Marketing & Development Committee - Ensure sufficient funding to support the growth and expansion of the Academy and its long-term sustainability aligned with the strategic plan goals. Serve as an advisory committee to the marketing department to provide feedback with the objective of preserving the school’s brand, mission, and identity.
Campus & Facilities Committee - Assess the condition and capacity of the Campus facilities and initiate planning to ensure the buildings and technology are fully aligned with and supportive of the Academy's programs and strategic plan goals.
Finance & Administration Committee – Evaluate the Academy’s financial status to ensure adequate funds are available for planned budget activities. Ensure legal and compliance requirements are met. Review investment objectives, strategy, and performance while monitoring execution against our established investment policy.
Governance Committee - Identify, recruit, vet, nominate, and evaluate Board members and chairmanship for all Board committees. Select, support, and evaluate the Head of School. Manage the long-range strategic plan with inputs from all other committees. Develop and oversee policies that ensure the school is achieving its mission and using its resources efficiently.
Over the next few months, these Committees, in collaboration with the Head of School and Leadership Team, will develop our priorities for the upcoming year. We commit to sharing those priorities with you, as well as with current and prospective families.
As a Board of Trustees, we are deeply committed to making the tough choices and accompanying changes necessary. We are fully vested in executing on the work needed to ensure that NDA provides our students with the well-rounded education, spiritual, and social experiences they need to guide them through these unprecedented times and prepare them as the successful young women that NDA is proud to call our alums.
We thank all of you and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for your trust and confidence in us to lead Notre Dame Academy.
Renee Mikitarian-Bradley, P’12
Chair, Board of Trustees
A sincere, heartfelt, thank you to the faculty and staff at Notre Dame Academy for providing the students of Notre Dame Academy with an exceptional educational experience during a most challenging time.