PCDS Strategic Plan 2020

The five-year Strategic Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in January, 2020, for full activation in the fall of 2020. For questions regarding the Strategic Plan please contact Roz Abero '89, Assistant Head of School

Since 1961, Phoenix Country Day School has been a trailblazer for educational excellence in Arizona, achieving recognition among the nation's best independent schools while still forging its own unique path in the southwest. Our studied and thoughtful approach to education has succeeded by every measure: engaged students and faculty, a nationally recognized academic program, robust co-curricular opportunities that have resulted in state and national championships, and thousands of accomplished graduates near and far.

As we embark on the 2020 Strategic Plan, our compelling history empowers us to continue to pour energy into established areas of strength while undertaking additional initiatives that we believe will push our school to new heights. We do so with the ever-present goal of providing the best scholastic experience for the students of today and tomorrow.

Strategic Positions

 1.     We believe that our ultimate responsibility is to provide for our students the most dynamic academic experience possible. What to this day separates PCDS from the crowd--and what will continue to do so into the future--is our unyielding dedication to academic excellence. This commitment is bolstered by a thoughtfully crafted, ever-evolving curriculum conveyed to students by expert teachers.

  • Maintain academic program that balances academic fundamentals and facts with creativity, deep thinking, and relevant experiential learning
  • Complete curriculum guide (by end of 2019-20) – internal and external versions
  • Create accompanying soft skills guide to mirror curricular guide
  • Refine and clarify departmental organization and leadership
  • Identify and strengthen curricular arts integration

2.     We believe that the classroom exchanges between teachers and students are the synapses of our educational nervous system. Much as our teachers ask our students to seek growth, we encourage our teachers to seek growth of their own. To support these endeavors, we offer dynamic professional development opportunities and will add to that a plan for the observation and formal evaluation of all faculty members on campus.

  • Continue to leverage Folio software to deepen culture of collaboration, flexibility, innovation, and feedback among faculty and staff
  • More deliberately share the outcomes of existing professional development opportunities and broadcast internal professional expertise
  • Examine the longitudinal impact of previous professional development experiences, including former Yellott Grant projects, and explore connections that can be elevated

3.     We believe that a first-rate education is a precious investment, and that we have a responsibility as a school to follow sound financial practices for both the short- and long-term. As we enter our seventh decade, we will deliberately focus on growing the PCDS endowment through philanthropy, planned giving, well-advised investment strategies, and prudent business practices to ensure that the profound impact of a PCDS education will be available for generations to come.

  • Continue conservative and transparent financial policies that enable us to stay true to our core, bolstered in part by a strong annual fund and tax credit program
  • Enhance endowment funding through a special focus on planned giving
  • Educate all constituents, including faculty and staff, on the endowment’s role in a thriving independent school

4.     We believe that the real magic in the internal PCDS community derives from our deep commitment to people who are happy, healthy, and hardworking. In every employee we hire, every student we accept, every student we support, and every family with whom we partner, we must value and promote these critical traits. We will continue to nurture and evolve a safe environment that brings out the very best in our students.

  • Continue to treasure student-teacher relationships as a key element of student wellness
  • Remain vigilant regarding campus security policies and practices
  • Continue to offer an athletic program that balances inclusiveness with a competitive spirit
  • Retain and strengthen counseling program PK-12
  • Consistently explore opportunities to support programs and practices that nurture self-awareness, balance, and compassion; this includes examining options to promote more sleep
  • Commit to more environmentally-friendly campus practices
  • Prioritize parent education and communication

5.     We believe that it is now time for PCDS, at 60 years old, to serve as a thought partner to the greater Phoenix community: a knowledgeable, practiced, and steady point of association for local schools who are eager to push their own programs forward. Building on the model established nearly 30 years ago with Project Excellence, we will move beyond our own campus to make an impact.

  • Continue offering programs that make PCDS accessible to a broad array of students, including robust financial aid and Project Excellence
  • Amplify student service experiences that foster ongoing conversation and engagement both on and beyond our campus
  • Explore opportunities to leverage our relative strength in the arts to enrich arts in local schools at both the faculty and student level
  • Deepen sustainability efforts through local partnerships/service

6.     We believe that the visual, digital, and performing arts should be central to the PCDS experience, as they provide meaningful and engaging connections with the world around us, while simultaneously deepening our understanding of ourselves. Having recently lent extensive attention to other facets of our co-curricular program, including athletics, it is now time to train a conscious focus on the arts.

  • Continue building on established strengths in the arts, including varied course offerings across disciplines and hiring faculty who are arts professionals
  • Explore opportunities to embed the arts visually across campus 
  • Build a first-rate performing arts center that supports music education, balancing traditional practices with modern, innovative, and diverse offerings 
  • Harness current arts integration practices and expand more deliberately across the curriculum
  • Explore the ways the arts nurture balance, compassion, and self-awareness

7.     We believe that the characteristics articulated in the PCDS Portrait of a Graduate must serve as our compass through all we endeavor to accomplish. Central to these core values are deliberate, pedagogically sound, and age-appropriate discussions around diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance.

  • Maintain strong racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity among our student body and continually seek opportunities to broaden student perspectives
  • Continue practices to ensure diverse representation on the Board of Trustees and committees 
  • Enhance professional development to help faculty navigate challenges around student diversity, with a special focus on differing ideological viewpoints 
  • Strive to recruit and retain diverse faculty, staff, and administration
  • Develop diversity mission statement representing commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion

It may be noted that the themes of balance, compassion, and self-awareness were intertwined within almost every discussion, recommendation, and goal. In addition, there is overlap with regard to some of the action items listed above; these connections emerged organically and point us to some “bigger swings” we are now poised to take over the next 5 years.

Big Swings

Curriculum Articulation
  • A sweeping articulation of our academic program of study, Pre-k through 12th grade, is already in progress, which will allow us to examine the 14-year arc of a PCDS education. Both a detailed internal version, for use by faculty and administration, and a more concise external version, designed for current and prospective community members, will be made available. The comprehensive internal version will be a living document to guide faculty and staff in curricular self-reflection and innovation and will guide the creation of interdisciplinary courses and full arts integration; furthermore, the curriculum guide will lay the groundwork for a parallel self-audit (and written guide) of PCDS's intentional efforts toward whole-student growth and development braided into the learning program (e.g., skills and traits including resilience, confidence, curiosity, generosity, resourcefulness, collaboration, and citizenship, among others). 
Arts in Local Schools
  • Locally and across the nation, arts education is a luxury that many schools can no longer afford. Our belief, supported by substantial research-based evidence, is that the arts are fundamental to an outstanding education, not only as a co-curricular or integrated activity but interwoven with proven pedagogical approaches. We seek partnerships with schools where teachers are applying creative methods to keep the arts alive and where our students and faculty can help enrich arts offerings. When we support each other through the arts, students experience their shared humanity by connecting with others, giving them a sense of place in their community and the world.
  • PCDS recently trained faculty in a new software program called Folio, a program that supports ongoing professional development, including faculty goal setting and evaluation. In its first year of implementation, it’s clear that there is even more that this robust program can support, including departmental, grade-level, and cross-divisional professional groups and collaborations; teachers' development of self-maintained portfolios with artifacts and resources to document and nurture growth over time; classroom observations tailored to different career stages or areas of focus; and implementation of a formal and transparent evaluation process. Folio features will also be extended, where suitable, to non-teaching staff and coaches.
  • PCDS has made progress in adopting more sustainable measures over the past several years. However, students, faculty, and staff are eager to enhance this commitment to our environment. We will explore our current practices and seek to establish cultural norms that embrace mindfulness towards our actions and choices, and how they impact all living things.  
West Campus Campaign
  • There is one side of campus that has been waiting patiently for a master plan that allows us to build a first-rate performing arts center while completing the upgrade of our athletic facilities and fields and improving long-ignored maintenance and staff facilities. In order to build a performing arts center that elevates our programming, we must examine our current performing arts offerings as well as our arts wish-list, and build a facility that supports both current and future needs. By taking a master-plan approach, we will ensure that no opportunities are overlooked to put all of the puzzle pieces together.