Strategic Planning

Everdell Hall. Chesapeake Watershed Semester. The Susie Konkel Atrium. The Alice Ryan Family Library. 80% growth in enrollment. Crew shells and sailboats. Robotics. New electives. Bay Studies courses. The art and photography labs. The Gunston Tennis Center. The Idea Box. Enhanced financial aid. YMCA Camp Gunston and Horizons. Mind, Brain, Education Science professional development. Expanded fiber and wireless. Triathlon and cross-country. Heron House and a rebuilt waterfront.

Every item on this list has two important things in common. First, each has made a transformative impact on the day-to-day lives of Gunston students and teachers; and second, none has occurred accidentally. More specifically, all of these recent initiatives have resulted from a comprehensive, ongoing, and inclusive strategic process led by Gunston’s Board of Trustees. With this letter, we are delighted to formally launch Gunston 2025, our recently updated and board-ratified Strategic Plan.

While the board sets annual institutional goals, Gunston 2025 provides the school with a multi-year strategic roadmap. As you will see, the plan seeks to build upon our rich history, leverage and extend our current strengths, and respond effectively to evolving opportunities and challenges. These notions are embedded into the plan’s central vision:

Gunston aims to be the region’s leading secondary school for a dynamic, student-centered educational experience, as well as a recognized national leader in environmental teaching and learning—while continuing to further our institutional capacity, agility, and resiliency.

One of the hallmarks of Gunston is the superb partnership that exists between the Board of Trustees and the school’s leadership team. In the pursuit of meaningful programming and initiatives, each supports the other in a virtuous cycle of reflective planning and effective implementation of strategic priorities. We recognize that the beneficiaries of this partnership are the students, teachers, and the wider community. As many of you may know, Gunston recently acquired 3.5 acres of additional property adjacent to the campus, and Gunston 2025 aims to support a process for maximizing the use of that space.

To this end, let us offer special thanks to the Co-Chairs of the Gunston 2025 Committee for their superb leadership: Pat Parkhurst ’88 P ’18 ’21 ’23 —a trustee, current parent, and alumna, as well as Christie Grabis — our remarkable assistant head of school. We also want to thank every member who served on the Gunston 2025 committee for their dedication and wisdom. We hope you take the time to review this document in depth, and let us ask you to remain alert for the multitude of ways that members of our community can offer support for this vision.

Patrick Shoemaker ’03, Chair, Board of Trustees & John Lewis, Head of School



MARCH 2019
Gunston partners with Greenwich Leadership Partners (GLP).

Strategic Design Team (SDT) is formed with alumni, faculty, and board members.

SDT gathered community feedback via survey.

Feedback compiled and analyzed, areas of focus identified into initial one-page strategy.

SDT formed teams around each strategic area and engaged in thinking and visioning exercises with focus groups of board members, employees, parents, students, and community partners.

SDT and Board distill important insights gathered throughout the work process and refine initial one-page strategy.

Board of Trustees ratified the final draft of the
Strategic Plan: Gunston 2025.

In the spring of 2019, Gunston began its strategic planning process with Greenwich Leadership Partners (GLP), a premier consulting group that employs design thinking and focuses on globalization, innovation, and effective leadership. An interactive and inquiry-driven process, design thinking engaged the Board and Strategic Design Team (SDT) in a deep examination of the school’s mission and identity, who the school serves, what the school values and why it matters. We identified the school’s assets, measured the alignment of programs and perceptions, and defined what success would look like in 10-20 years.

The overarching goal of the process was to craft a mission centric, one-page strategy to guide Gunston’s growth, development, and sustainability as a dynamic educational institution during the next three to five years. A key element of the process involved collaboration with constituent groups in the Gunston community — employees, parents, students, alumni, and community partners, who completed an initial survey and then later participated in focus groups, engaging in thinking and visioning exercises.

The consensus of our constituents focused on five key areas:

  • Educational program
  • Environmental teaching and learning
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Campus facilities
  • Advancement

We greatly enjoyed working with a wide variety of community members, hearing about their experiences, and gaining insight into their vision of Gunston in the years ahead. It was affirming to find a high degree of congruence between the areas of strength and the areas of opportunity identified by the Board and the SDT and the constituent groups.The comprehensive strategic process, with the input from all of the community members who took part in it, has positioned Gunston to engage deeply and effectively in the implementation of the strategic plan in the months and years ahead.

Christie Grabis, Assistant Head of School & Co-Chair Gunston 2025

Pat Parkhurst ’88 P ’18 ’21 ’23, Co-Chair Gunston 2025


Mekonnen Sahle-Selassie ’23 holds a green t-shirt flag aloft during the “sorting” before Green and White Day.


Further articulate and implement the elements of “The Gunston Experience”— an intentional and “relentlessly student-centered” approach that aligns with the values, principles, and methods in Gunston’s mission and philosophy.


  • Review and revise Gunston’s schedule, with the aim of furthering a flexible, personalized, and mission-aligned educational experience.
  • Design a structured professional development program that fosters collaboration and faculty leadership, and aligns with the key strategic priorities of EfS,DEI, MBE, SEL, and instructional technology.*
  • Align and enhance the school’s athletics and college guidance programs consistent with our growing enrollment.
  • Evaluate the diversity, scope, and caliber of Gunston’s arts and athletics offerings, and develop a plan to enhance these key programmatic domains.
  • Invest in Gunston’s capacity to leverage technology as an essential tool for learning, innovation, and personalization.

*EfS: Education for Sustainability, DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, MBE: Mind-Brain Education Science, SEL: Social-Emotional Learning


Helen Boone ’21 holds up a terrapin during Mr. Hoisington’s Ecology of the Bay class.


Expand our capacity as a regional and national leader in environmental teaching and learning.


  • Redesign our Environmental Strategic Plan with the aim of formally planning and launching the Institute for Environmental Teaching and Learning — a vehicle for organizing existing activities and furthering the research, praxis, and dissemination of Gunston’s unique approach to environmental teaching and learning.

  • Support the continued growth and development of the Chesapeake Watershed Semester.

  • Grow and deepen our efforts to develop and deliver innovative, experiential climate science education to our students and beyond.


Danielle Simmons ’22, Daniel Dang ’22, Leo Santoboni ’22, Washington College student intern Ellie Byers, and Ben Cunningham ’


Prioritize the expansion and enhancement of the school’s advancement capacities (people, programs and systems) in order to support the student experience and ensure Gunston’s long-term financial sustainability.


  • Design and execute the school’s next capital campaign, ensuring that an element of the campaign includes the further expansion of the school’s endowment/reserve.

  • Implement a planned giving program to support the school’s long-term financial health.

  • Develop an alumni program for the school’s boarding, day, and international graduates that
    fosters a sense of community and generosity.


McKinsey Brown ’23 (center) during a March 2020 lacrosse game with Key School. Gunston won 17-7.


Create a mission driven decision-making framework to drive and  communicate the rationale, priorities, coordination, and accountability for ongoing campus building improvements. 


  • Form an Athletics Advisory Committee to further support the school’s program and 
    physical plant needs.

  • Sequence and prioritize the next phases of facilities growth and enhancement in anticipation of the school’s next capital campaign.


Students eat lunch outside during Unity Day in Fall 2020.


Educate our community to expect, navigate, and embrace difference in a thoughtful and civil manner, to ensure that Gunston fulfills its aim to value  the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.


  • Redouble our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as expressed by our newly adopted statement and through the implementation and monitoring of our 5-year DEI strategic plan.

  • Conduct a review of curriculum and pedagogical approaches through the lens of our DEI commitment to ensure it is reflected and integrated within the educational program.

  • Continue in our efforts to build and support an authentically diverse and inclusive community through intentional engagement, collaboration, enrollment and recruitment efforts.

  • Examine extra and co-curricular programs to ensure alignment to our DEI aims.