Strategic Framework 2030

Beyond Access to Success: Inclusion and Belonging
Groton School’s mission is “to inspire lives of character, scholarship, leadership, and service within a diverse, inclusive, and close-knit community.”

As Groton School founder Endicott Peabody recognized, achieving the school's educational mission depends greatly upon the quality of the environment where students live and learn. This belief continues to guide the philosophy of the school. As the mission statement explicitly emphasizes: What we teach our students (to pursue lives of character, scholarship, leadership, and service) and where they develop those traits (within a diverse, inclusive, and close-knit community) are intertwined. While Groton has long maintained a leadership position regarding the first half of the mission (to inspire lives of character, scholarship, leadership, and service), the school's most significant recent progress involves the work to deliver a diverse, inclusive, and close-knit community.

Groton’s achievements since 2015 demonstrate that investing in inclusion and belonging can reinforce scholarly excellence, leadership development, spiritual exploration, and service. The emphasis on inclusion has enhanced each of these areas, as well as the school’s ability to achieve its mission. Thus, the following strategic framework is grounded not only in continuing the investments of recent years, but in taking them further, beyond a diverse and inclusive community to a community centered on belonging, which will foster even greater levels of character, scholarship, leadership, and service, strengthening the school and its mission.

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  • Background

    Through the GRoton Affordability and INclusion (GRAIN) initiative, Groton has strived with determination, and considerable success, to increase accessibility and affordability and bring inclusion to the center of life on the Circle. GRAIN's success has enhanced Groton School’s leadership position.
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Core Values and Guiding Principles

The school’s core values and guiding principles informed the creation of this strategic framework.

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  • Core Values

    Groton’s values are our foundation and guide the pursuit of our mission.

    Groton’s faculty and staff are deeply devoted to their craft and the school, our students are able and engaged, our parents believe in our mission, and our alumni live it. We aspire to instill the following core skills and qualities in our students, which we believe will inspire them to fulfill our mission:

    • Personal integrity
    • Empathy and selflessness
    • Courage and resilience
    • Engaged and ethical global citizenship
    • Commitment to inclusion and belonging
    • Spiritual or religious searching and self-inquiry
    • Vision, conviction, and personal responsibility
    • Critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving
    • Creativity and imagination
    • Learning across all core disciplines
    • Preparation for a sustainable future
    • Active listening, communicating, and collaborating
  • Guiding Principles

    Trustees, faculty, staff, and members of the Forms of 2019 and 2020 helped develop guiding principles for this strategic framework.

    • Groton's small, close-knit, and cohesive community is essential to who we are.
    • A diverse and inclusive community, with varying backgrounds and viewpoints, is integral to an outstanding education. Diversity encompasses many dimensions, including race, religion, socioeconomic status, geography, nationality, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
    • Groton sets high academic standards and provides an exceptional academic experience, going well beyond knowledge and achievement to instill a love of learning and comprehension of the value of scholarship.
    • Groton believes that all students can provide valuable leadership in their own way, and the school is committed to developing strong and ethical leaders. The school is structured to teach and enable leadership and to empower future leaders.
    • Groton recognizes that it is critical for students to understand the nature of today’s interconnected global community and their place and responsibilities within it.
    • Imbuing a sense of service in students, a commitment deeply woven throughout the school's history, is central to the Groton experience.
    • Groton is committed to attracting, supporting, and retaining faculty who are lifelong learners dedicated to the craft of teaching, and who demonstrate excellence both through their subjects and through the care they show their students. 

The Framework

The overarching goal of this strategic framework is to underscore Groton's leadership among all secondary independent schools not only in scholarship, but also in the areas of inclusion, affordability, and belonging—to consolidate and advance the progress we have made as we evolve into an even more diverse, inclusive, and close-knit community. To achieve this goal, Groton must make sure that every student—no matter their background or financial circumstances—feels seen and has the tools to thrive, thereby empowering Groton students to develop “lives of character, scholarship, leadership, and service.”

Our strategic framework allows us to align our entire community around a set of clearly defined objectives, with consistent measures of progress that provide guideposts for action while allowing for agility in our uncertain world. It also identifies measures of progress toward the articulated objectives for broadening and deepening inclusion and belonging, as well as several near-term initiatives that we intend to pursue. 

Five elements serve as the foundation beneath our overarching goal of inclusion and belonging: Affordability, Well-Being and Social/Emotional Development, Inclusive Excellence in Scholarship, An Inclusive Campus, and Community Ownership of Inclusion and Belonging.

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  • Affordability

    The school is committed to ensuring that cost is never a barrier to a Groton education. We believe in directing the school’s resources first and foremost to people, and thus are committed to making a Groton education accessible. 

    The GRAIN initiative, adopted as the school’s #1 strategic priority in 2014, contained tuition while increasing the number of students on financial aid and guaranteeing that the school would consider all applicants without regard for their ability to pay. GRAIN is strong (supported by $53 million raised in the first three years and $76 million as of May 2022). However, the impact of GRAIN could be fragile without a solid commitment to sustaining the groundbreaking initiative. 

    • To strive to have the most affordable tuition level among our forty peer (ABOPS) schools, both to increase appeal and to reinforce our commitment to fight the national trend toward spiraling tuition in education. Additionally:
      • No student is denied admission because of financial need.
      • No admitted student decides not to attend Groton because of financial need.
      • We maintain approximately twenty-five Inclusion Scholars at any given time by adding six new Inclusion Scholars each year, including students entering Second Form.
    • To ensure that GRAIN’s commitment to tuition containment, access, affordability, inclusion, and belonging is deeply embedded in Groton’s culture as well as in its overall financial structure
    • To maintain both the financial resilience needed to keep tuition increases modest and our commitment to financial aid by ensuring that our endowment grows over time (through new gifts, investment returns, and prudent spending)
    Key Strategic Measures 
    • Groton’s tuition relative to our forty peer (ABOPS) schools
    • The number of Inclusion Scholars
    • The degree to which financial aid is not a consideration in admission decisions and decisions to attend Groton
  • Well-Being and Social/Emotional Development—Prerequisites

    Students’ well-being and social/emotional development are prerequisites to the sense of belonging emphasized in this strategic framework. In fact, they are prerequisites to all other goals—essential if Groton is to advance its mission and provide students the opportunity to reach their full academic, athletic, spiritual, artistic, and personal potential.

    Research indicates that a sense of belonging is essential to an adolescent's well-being and effective functioning and is a critical motivator of human behavior. It is especially important between the ages of twelve and eighteen, when adolescents establish a sense of self and how they fit into the world. Groton School recognizes the influence it has on students’ development and well-being. In addition, we believe that prospective families increasingly will consider a school’s commitment to and investment in student well-being and social/emotional development; likewise, well-being competencies will become increasingly important and valued in life beyond Groton.

    • To be a school that prioritizes student well-being and social-emotional development, and to be known as such
    • To create an environment where the health, counseling, and well-being programs are interconnected and collectively provide a safe destination for students to seek care and support
    • To create an environment and programming that promote the development of physical and psychological well-being for every Groton student, both on the Circle and in their lives beyond Groton
    • To help every student develop self-awareness, awareness of others, and the ability to self-regulate across emotional, behavioral, and cognitive realms 
    • To foster a culture in which students are encouraged to address life’s stressors and are comfortable seeking help from peers and adults 
    • To provide faculty and staff with the tools to promote positive health and social/emotional well-being within the student community
    Key Strategic Measures 
    • Student well-being assessments (including the Bi-Annual Independent School Health Check) to confirm that students feel they have a place on campus, possess effective communication skills, are able to regulate emotions appropriately, have strong interpersonal relationships, experience civil discourse, and experience effective problem-solving
    • Student participation in programming, including health classes and voluntary wellness activities, and use of spaces dedicated to wellness
    • Student self-referrals to counseling
    • Student-counselor ratio
    • Feedback from recent graduates 
    • Parent use of resources dedicated to health and well-being on Groton’s website 
    • Peer school inquiries about our program
  • Inclusive Excellence in Scholarship

    Excellence in scholarship has long been a hallmark of a Groton education. The school believes that a foundational sense of confidence and belonging facilitates scholarly excellence. In turn, that scholarship is inextricably linked to confidence. Groton is committed to providing an equitable and supportive learning environment where students achieve this critical sense of belonging, allowing them to reach their full academic potential. Excellence also requires a global perspective, enhanced through periodic adjustment of the curriculum and co-curricular activities and GEOs (Global Educational Opportunities), which allow students to engage deeply with differing perspectives and experiences, both within and outside the United States. 

    • To ensure that all students have access to experiences and resources that allow them to fulfill their potential as scholars 
    • To ensure that Groton’s curriculum remains relevant, inclusive, and responsive to the world today, providing students with a comprehensive and multi-faceted perspective on content learned, as well as the ability to understand and articulate what they are studying
    • To reinforce awareness of students’ cognitive well-being, providing resources to identify and support those with various learning styles
    • To sustain and enhance domestic and international (“glocal”) experiences for students, ensuring that all students have academic and co-curricular experiences that build cultural knowledge and global perspectives
    Key Strategic Measures
    • Diversity of perspectives in the curriculum (including diversity of pedagogical methods, materials assigned, assessment methods, and classroom management approaches)
    • Student experience regarding the relevance, inclusiveness, and diversity of curricula
    • Degree and diversity of student participation in GEOs (international and domestic)
    • Diversity of GEO offerings
    • Participation in GRACE, including regular evaluation of how well GRACE is helping students reach their potential
  • An Inclusive Campus

    Each student’s sense of belonging will be influenced by experiences across campus—by academic, athletic, residential, and extracurricular offerings; by school policies; and by seeing themselves represented in the community. The physical environment—including the buildings, building names, statues, and artwork—is an essential factor in creating a sense of belonging.  

    • To create a visual and experiential environment inside the Circle that offers everyone—students, faculty, and staff—the opportunity to feel belonging each day, across campus, and in every activity
    Key Strategic Measures
    • Student feelings of belonging (through student assessment)
    • Diversity of students, faculty, staff, and trustees
    • Diversity in student leadership positions
    • Degree to which buildings, physical spaces, and artworks represent diverse groups
    • Quantity and quality of belonging-oriented gatherings and events on campus
  • Community Ownership of Inclusion and Belonging

    Creating a culture of inclusion, belonging, and well-being is complex and requires perpetual community investment, support, and advocacy. Success will require increased engagement throughout the entire Groton community—including alumni, parents, and past parents. Community members who feel they belong are more likely to share a sense of ownership and responsibility for the school’s success. 

    • To build on areas of strength and foster a greater sense of belonging among all constituencies, including alumni, past and current parents, and other community members, and to inspire community ownership of the importance of belonging to the school’s mission
    • To inspire all members of the Groton family to invest time, talent, and treasure in support of achieving and sustaining the inclusion and belonging to which this strategic framework, our mission, and our school aspire
    Key Strategic Measures 
    • Constituent engagement (participation in events, email open rates, visits to campus) and feedback 
    • Volunteer participation and, more specifically, engagement of underrepresented constituents in volunteer opportunities
    • Participation in giving to the Groton Fund and endowment/capital initiatives 
    • GRAIN and GRACE fundraising: $25 million for GRAIN 2.0 (nearly $23 million raised as of May 2022) and fully endowing GRACE at $5 million

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  • Implementing the Framework

    We have identified specific, practical action steps, summarized below, to begin our progress toward each objective. Vital to this strategic framework is a robust process for assessing both our progress and the evaluative measures we are using. The school's administration will use processes and tools, new or existing, to systematically gather information on each strategic measure. Administrators will regularly share this data at trustee meetings, where attendees will collectively reflect on how our action steps are bringing us closer to our goals and whether refinement or revision is warranted.
    Summary of Core Initiatives