Strategic Plan Updates

Since the Board of Trustees passed the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan in December 2015, faculty and staff have worked purposefully toward achieving each of the seven main initiatives. Check back for updates over the duration of the plan.

List of 3 items.

  • May 2016 Update

    Annie Wright Schools in Tacoma, the Region and the World
    Annie Wright Middle School continues the process of implementing the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. An IB World School since 2009, Annie Wright is already authorized in the Primary Years Programme in Lower School and Diploma Programme in Upper School. When the Middle School receives full authorization for the MYP, Annie Wright will be one of the few IB continuum schools in the United States.

    Excellence in Teaching
    Annie Wright holds conferences and workshops for area teachers, establishing our faculty as leading experts in their fields. In May the school hosted EdCamp, an “unconference” where teachers from a range of schools and colleges present, discuss, collaborate and share their knowledge and experience on a range of topics decided that very day. Topics ranged from Mindfulness in the Classroom to Virtual Reality.

    Signature Programs
    The Upper School is establishing the parameters, programming and staffing for two signature programs, Girls’ Business & Entrepreneurship and Tennis, starting in the fall of 2016.

    The diversity committee enlisted the help of the National Association of Independent Schools to administer a comprehensive survey, the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism, to our community. These results along with in-depth conversations and consultation with experts will help guide Annie Wright to improve diversity and inclusivity.

    Educating our Boys
    Faculty and administrators are engaging in professional development to learn how boys and girls learn differently and how they can best meet students’ specific needs. This knowledge already informs teaching practice in the coed Lower and Middle Schools. Conversations about establishing a parallel Upper School program for boys have become a strategic priority.

    The administration is elevating the new Director of Athletics to the senior leadership team and empowering him to make major improvements in the physical education and athletics programs, hiring elite volleyball and tennis coaches, establishing teams for Lower School students and acquiring a range of new equipment through the 2016 Gator Gala Fund-A-Need. New facilities, already in the works, will also provide ample spaces for year-round sports and play.

    Institutional Sustainability
    Faculty and staff are developing and exploring alternative revenue streams, a campus master plan and a culture of philanthropy at Annie Wright. The Board of Trustees and administration
  • May 2017 Update

    Annie Wright Schools in Tacoma, the region and the world
    • The authorization visit for the IB Middle Years Programme took place last month, and we are on target to become an IB Continuum School, accredited to offer all three academic IB programs, by summer 2017.
    • Opportunities for national and international travel have expanded in 2016-17. In addition to Upper School exchange opportunities in Spain and New Zealand, we added an exchange program in France. Additionally, the Upper School activities program sponsored trips to such places as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Santa Fe and Cuba this spring.
    • Working toward student proficiency in an acquired language, Spanish language teachers of preschoolers to high schoolers met twice monthly as a group, visited Spanish classes throughout the local region, and will attend a workshop to train them as a unit in Accelerated Integrated Methodology for language instruction.
    • A faculty topic group is finalizing a definition of Global Education at AWS that crosses all divisions and departments and creating a planning/reflection tool to help teachers build appropriate global curricula.

    Excellence in Teaching
    We have made strides in the support system we have in place for new teachers as a focus for this strand in 2016-17. As a pilot program, we welcomed new teachers in August with clearly assigned mentor faculty members and handwritten notes which thanked them for helping make Annie Wright the special school it is. We continued with bi-monthly meetings focused on three key elements of new teachers’ school lives: clarifying upcoming events and expectations, eliciting feedback about support systems currently in place, and offering a place where teachers could find constant moral support.

    Regarding the strategic goal of becoming a center for teacher training, we are currently the South Sound home to the spring “unconference” called EdCamp for the second year in a row. This event pulls together teachers from throughout western Washington and Oregon to discuss issues and topics identified by the teachers who attend on the particular day—an active example of teachers teaching teachers.

    Annie Wright’s Curriculum and Practice Committee (CaP), in its third year, comprises nine teacher leaders facilitated by Middle School teacher Kyle Price and Asst. Head Susan Bauska. Each spring, they identify issues out of the strategic plan or curricular topics requiring deep study; these teacher leaders form committees of other teachers to make demonstrable progress toward a goal approved by the facilitators and the full committee. Kyle and Susan presented this model of teacher-leadership at this year’s NWAIS fall conference to a full house of colleagues from other schools.

    For the 2017-18 school year, the Curriculum and Practice Committee will be charged with creating a manageable, consistent faculty and staff evaluative, with recommendations to administration by spring, 2018. Compensation also remains an ongoing focus.

    Signature Programs
    There are four girls currently committed to the Upper School Business and Entrepreneurship Signature Program under the direction of Sandra Bush and Joe Romano. While four girls represent a smaller interest percentage than hoped for, the two faculty leaders are recruiting from current Grades 9 & 10 students, as well as from new students who attended Scholar Search Weekend. The program is in process of development/prototype phase.

    Last year a Curriculum and Practice (CaP) Topic Group led by Jamie Parrott was formed to explore global mindedness and diversity. Over the course of the year, the group researched relevant instruments and identified the Assessment for Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM), a multi-layered tool developed by the National Association of Independent Schools to help schools understand the climate of inclusion and to provide benchmarks for progress in this important area of independent school life.

    In May 2016, with the support of the Senior Leadership Team, the Topic Group implemented the climate survey portion of the AIM instrument and invited participation from students in Grades 4-12, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, alumnae and parents. This year the topic group interpreted the data collected through the AIM Survey, communicated initial results and invited dialogue from Faculty, Staff, and Administrators. 

    The diversity committee spent much of this year analyzing results and predicating the beginnings of the 5-year plan for diversity. Initial recommendations include:
    • Professional Development: Annie Wright will provide training in diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education for faculty, staff, and administrators. This will begin officially in the opening faculty / staff meeting of 2017-18 with a keynote speaker on the topic of inclusivity and diversity and continue throughout 17-18 with visits by designated individuals to peer institutions farther along in diversity initiatives for ideas, networking, and support.
    • Formalized opportunities for collegial dialogue, internal community building, and reflection on issues related to diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education.
    • Identification of local agencies and institutions in Tacoma to partner with around diversity, inclusivity, and multiculturalism initiatives and with teaching training programs that recruit and support underrepresented groups.
    In addition, the hiring process for the 2017-18 academic year includes interviewing and, when possible, hiring quality candidates of currently under-represented populations within the teaching faculty.
    Educating our Boys
    Thirteen boys are contracted (five from our Middle School) for the new Upper School for Boys opening in the fall, with more in the admissions pipeline. We are meeting with architects, engineers and the city regarding the new academic building to open in 2019. In the meantime, the school has leased a downtown space, the site of the former Children's Museum, for classes two and one-half days each week.

    All academic subjects teachers have now been contracted, including Jeremy Stubbs and Dianne Mattaei. Mr. Stubbs, current Upper School teacher of math and physics and dorm parent, has been hired to be the Dean of Students and will teach math, physics and robotics to the boys, as well as continue his dorm work. Former Upper School Learning Support specialist Mrs. Matthaei will provide learning support with some teaching responsibilities.

    The uniform, including a shirt and tie in class color, has been solidified. The schedule is in the process of fine tuning.

    The Director of Athletics, now part of the Senior Leadership Team is focusing on volleyball and tennis as signature sports. A tennis director and a volleyball director have been hired to oversee their programs in every division. The directors are charged with developing skills in the youth players, forming Middel School teams that will resemble Upper School teams (terminology, philosophy, etc), and challenging Upper School teams with appropriate competition and tournament opportunities. Similar roles are being examined in other sports such as soccer, basketball, and track & field/cross country.

    With the completion of James Memorial Field and a second gymnasium becoming a reality, the PE faculty will place more emphasis on development of an enriched Lower School athletics program that mirrors sport offerings in the Middle School and Upper School. The field, in addition to allowing AWS to host Upper School and Middle School soccer games, will give the Lower School space to form soccer, cross country, ultimate, and track & field teams. It will also provide a safe place for play during recesses and summer camps. A new gym will equally benefit all 3 divisions, also allowing for “play” but also for AWS to host tournaments and better display our facilities to the local community through sport competitions.
    A new fencing program will launch this fall with the opening of the new Upper School for Boys. In the winter, we will evaluate the possibilities of offering fencing to boys and girls in a more competitive after-school sport option.

    Institutional Sustainability
    The school has implemented:
    • an institutional sustainability model (with Jennifer Haley as Director of Advancement)
    • a campus master plan
    • a part-time position to leverage opportunities in revenue, curriculum and strategic plan advancement for the 2016-17 school year. We will not staff this position for 2017-18 but will continue to seek non-tuition sources of sustainable revenue.
    • a multi-year plan for philanthropy to create a culture of philanthropy and a concrete five-year development plan (in process)
    In addition, the From Strength to Strength campaign, a significant milestone for the school, is near completion.
  • May 2018 Update

    • With the authorization of MYP in the Middle School, AWS is now the only International Baccalaureate Continuum School in the state of Washington and one of fewer than 20 IB Continuum Schools in the United States.
    • Opportunities to partner with local institutions and organizations, particularly with an emphasis on service, continue to expand. Increasing local service partnerships will be an important task for the new Director of Academic Affairs.
    • Exchange opportunities continue to expand, with a new connection made with a school in Argentina, in addition to existing Upper School exchanges for girls in Spain, France and New Zealand. We anticipate our first Upper School for Boys student to participate in the Madrid exchange in the 2018-19 academic year.
    • Spanish teachers from all divisions have been trained in the AIM (Accelerated Integrated Method), providing a consistent approach to teaching language and enhancing oral proficiency. AIM incorporates scaffolding techniques which use story-telling, gestures, active collaboration and repetition of high-frequency vocabulary. More language teachers, including those in Mandarin and French, will be trained beginning in the summer of 2018.
    • Teachers continue to benefit from a robust professional development program that honors teacher choice while also delivering on institutional imperatives. In 2017-18, teachers participated in AIM training (see above), IB trainings at all levels, and a variety of subject-specific and topical trainings, workshops, seminars and conferences.
    • While each academic division of the school continues to refine evaluative instruments, a Curriculum and Practice (CaP) Topic Group formed to create a school-wide self-assessment vehicle, one that could be used consistently by all employees. This instrument will be put into use during the 2018-19 academic year.
    • The Girls’ Business & Entrepreneurship Program, the single current signature program, continues to evolve. Beyond hiring a director for this program and funding for travel, however, the school has not focused on the program as an urgent area of growth. Further resources might enable growth and refinement of signature programs. There may be a need, as well, for discussion with the Board regarding value, expectations and rationale. (No specific student has enrolled at Annie Wright, to our knowledge, because of the Girls’ Business & Entrepreneurship Program, for example.) The Upper School for Girls, therefore, has not moved forward with additional signature programs. 
    Following last year’s review of the NAIS AIM (Access, Inclusivity, Multiculturalism) survey and the creation of a draft five-year plan for diversity, the committee for Diversity, Inclusion, Multiculturalism and Equity (a Curriculum and Practice group):
    • Set the stage by inviting national speaker Rosetta Lee to open the all-school faculty meetings last August with a presentation about diversity.
    • Reached out to several other private schools (local and national) and diversity experts to gather best practices and lessons learned.
    • Planned to move forward by defining annual strategic initiatives, starting at the end of this year, and incorporating scaffolded and structured discussions about diversity into regular faculty meetings.
    • The Upper School for Boys officially opened in August 2017 with its first class of 9th grade students, housed on campus and in a specially designed classroom space in downtown Tacoma. This group of boys will be joined as tenth graders by a new 9th grade cohort in August 2018.
    • AWS completed the permitting process for construction of a new academic building to house the Upper School for Boys. Construction will begin in June 2018 with plans to open it for the 2019-20 school year.
    • The Director of Athletics believes “signature sports” should not exist and plans to develop well-rounded student-athletes who can contribute to all seasons of sports. With that, MS and LS athletics programs have been created to mirror the USG and USB offerings in an attempt to create a continuum of offerings and opportunities from K – 12th grade. Additionally, the LS PE curriculum has evolved to highlight the skills necessary to excel at specific sports prior to the start of that sport season so that the students are more proficient with the sport at the start of practices.
    • James Memorial Field has already allowed for our field-based sports to flourish while also showcasing AWS’s beauty to the outside community. The new field has allowed for a girls’ lacrosse program to grow into a huge spring sport that has seen 84 girls from 1st – 8th grades turn out for the 5 different AWS teams in its inaugural season. Additionally, the new field has enhanced the PE curricula. The second gymnasium will allow for more developmental opportunities for our younger teams who are currently only able to practice 1-2 times per week due to space restrictions. The second gym and pool will also be used to host tournaments and summer camps that can prove to be revenue generating endeavors for the school.
    • Based on our facilities, the best sports to develop talent within are soccer, volleyball, basketball and lacrosse. We will continue to offer programming and opportunities for these sports from K – 12th grades in competitive and non-competitive environments. We can offer great opportunities for our golfers, tennis players and runners as well, but need to be creative with how we take advantage of neighboring facilities.
    • Since the advent of the Strategic Plan we have looked at several overseas schools with an eye toward developing a relationship which would be advantageous to our students, would spread the Annie Wright brand abroad and provide a financial benefit to the school.  We are currently working with the Baishan Educational Group in Qingdao, China, a school with which  Annie Wright has enjoyed a relationship since 1996.  Currently we are looking at providing an immersion English high school experience for a group of Chinese and other international students living in Qingdao.  In a fully developed program, we anticipate an enrollment of 160 – 180 students.  Students successfully completing the course of study would receive a Basihan-Annie Wright Schools diploma, and those intending to further their education overseas would receive college placement assistance from us.


Annie Wright Schools
Main Campus:
827 North Tacoma Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98403

Downtown Campus:
936 Broadway
Tacoma, WA 98402

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Founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1884, Annie Wright Schools serve students from age three through high school. Annie Wright Lower  and Middle Schools offer co-ed programs in Preschool through Grade 8, while separate Upper Schools for girls  and boys offer day and boarding options in Grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is proud to be an International Baccalaureate World School.