“Our Strategic Plan will guide our school into its second century, ensuring that the traditions and welcoming culture endure while providing exciting, relevant opportunities for Garrison Forest students, now and in the future.”
-Helen Zinreich Shafer ’93
Chair, Strategic Planning Committee
Member, Board of Trustees
Parent, Serena ’19
Read the plan in full in the Strategic Plan booklet:
- FOCUS 1: OUR EDUCATIONAL PROMISE
- FOCUS 2: OUR OUTSTANDING TEACHERS
- FOCUS 3: OUR COMMUNITY NETWORK
- FOCUS 4: OUR DIVERSE COMMUNITY
- FOCUS 5: OUR BOARDING EXPERIENCE
- FOCUS 6: OUR FINANCIALFUTURE
We will enrich our academic and co-curricular programs and align our learning and living spaces with our educational goals to ensure every student thrives at Garrison Forest.
The heart of the Garrison Forest experience has always been our ability to deeply know, understand and respond to the needs of every student. We provide meaningful character development within a thoughtful, innovative curriculum. Our campus offers limitless possibilities for an experiential, hands-on academic program, while our community partnerships give students meaningful opportunities to learn about and connect with the world beyond.
- Create “knowledge that sticks” by including hands-on, relevant and real-world experiences across our Preschool–Grade 12 program.
- Ensure the Garrison Forest academic experience is cohesive and consistent across the Preschool–Grade 12 continuum.
- Expand and deepen our academic and co-curricular programs to provide opportunities to practice and build the life-long skills of curiosity, resilience and leadership and prepare students for the new opportunities and challenges they will face in college, the workplace and in their lives.
- Continue our strong record of graduating girls with high emotional intelligence.
- Incorporate into our lesson planning, student assessments and advisory program the five essential learning habits defined by GFS faculty as critical for every graduate: perseverance, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and curiosity.
- Map our curriculum, Preschool–Grade 12, to ensure that content, skills and assessments in each department and across divisions progress and deepen as students grow.
- Develop more refined systems to identify every student’s growth areas, including those needing further challenge to meet accelerated learning goals and those needing assistance to achieve success, so that we meet the needs of every student.
- Expand programming to support our focus on empowering young women in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design and math), graduating girls who are prepared, confident and willing to take risks in these arenas.
- Repurpose our living and learning spaces to align them with our vision for teaching and learning.
- Harness the potential of the campus grounds as living labs for student exploration and environmental stewardship.
“What first attracted me to Garrison Forest in 1995 is still true today. We have a kind, creative, curious and international student body with a positive spirit, a faculty with boundless energy and a deep commitment and a beautiful campus with fantastic resources. This is such a wonderful place for students and teachers because connections are made through respect and trust.”
Upper School History
We will invest in our faculty and staff to benefit students most directly and powerfully now and in the future.
Garrison Forest has long known what the research shows: that the most important variables in student learning and success are excellent teaching and close student-teacher relationships. Our goal remains to hire and keep the best teachers and to allow them to grow and evolve. Our extensive professional development programs allow faculty and staff to tackle pressing educational challenges, enhancing our academic and co-curricular program and modeling for our students the purposeful risk-taking, collaboration and creative problem-solving we expect from them.
“Garrison Forest always had faith in my ideas, passion and pursuits and taught me that the most critical way to prepare for success is to seek out opportunities where you can succeed. Through WISE, I learned that dreaming big is only half the battle, and my Independent Senior Project at Roominate opened up new engineering careers. Having chances to challenge myself while still in high school was invaluable.”
-Katherine Paseman ‘14
Mechanical Engineering Major, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mechanical Engineer, Roominate
Pictured at Johns Hopkins’ Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design lab.
We will expand and deepen joint programming with local and global community, university and business partners.
Our partnerships are a vibrant resource for our students to learn and lead in Baltimore, across the country and around the globe. The nationally recognized James Center, which coordinates the school’s experiential learning programs, includes our ground-breaking research partnership with The Johns Hopkins University, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program. Since 2005, WISE has supported nearly 200 Garrison Forest students to date in research mentorships in Hopkins’ laboratories and programs. Service League, founded by visionary students in 1942, provides an array of service opportunities for students, faculty and staff to connect with communities in our backyard and around the globe. Deepening and broadening these relationships, widening our reach to the Lower School and Middle School and providing intentional networking opportunities with and for alumnae teaches students how to channel passions into purpose.
“What happens on the other side of the world often has a direct impact on our lives. Our students have the desire to change the world, to make things better for people and the planet. In order to cultivate that desire and make it real, we must empower students with critical skills that will help them dialogue and collaborate across difference in order to address the world’s most pressing problems.”
Director of Inclusion and Diversity
We will build an inclusive and welcoming Garrison Forest community where all are valued and have the necessary skills to contribute to an increasingly complex, diverse and global community.
Being who you are—as you are—and bringing your genuine self to Garrison Forest are inherent in the ideals and promise of the GFS experience. To fully live our Motto, Mission and Core Values, we must create a school environment that supports and appreciates the rich diversity of the Garrison Forest community, providing students and adults with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively across differences. Inculcating these life skills within every student is paramount to our educational mission of preparing them to learn, live and lead.
“Boarding has expanded my perspective and my family. It’s taught me that I am an independent thinker.”-Mollie Post ’19 (left))
“I have made the most amazing and supportive friends as a boarder. Garrison Forest is definitely my home away from home.”-Viviana Vento ’18
We will broaden our scope and commitment to the boarding program.
A key part of our history and heritage, the boarding program has been part of who we are since Garrison Forest opened its doors in 1910 and it continues to distinguish us within the Baltimore educational landscape and among our boarding school peers. The closeness of our boarding program provides girls from around the region and across the country and globe with a personal, family-centered residential life experience. With a renewed commitment to national and international recruitment, facilities and a focus on best-of-practice boarding programs, one of our strongest traditions will continue to deepen the Garrison Forest experience for boarding and day students alike.
"One of the Board’s most important responsibilities is to ensure Garrison Forest’s long-term financial health. This includes a disciplined budgeting approach today and expansive and pragmatic thinking about the needs of tomorrow."
-Catherine “Kit”Jackson, ’83
President, Garrison Forest Board of Trustees
We will create a plan for ensuring the school’s financially sustainable future.
The value of a Garrison Forest education far exceeds the price of tuition; it is an investment in the potential inherent in every student. While continuing to meet the promise of that potential and support and grow innovative programs, we must do so within a plan of affordability and sustainability firmly grounded in endowment growth, enrollment strategies and embracing the school’s long tradition of nimble transformation to meet the challenges of the day.
Strategic Planning Committee (November 2015)
Helen Zinreich Shafer ’93, Chair
Kimberley J. Roberts, Head of School
Sarah L. Achenbach, Director of Communications
Elizabeth B. Andrews, Head of Preschool
Sara N. Bleich ’96
Robert S. Brennen, Trustee
Kimberly Hubbard Cashman ’85, Trustee
David M. DiPietro, Trustee
Deanna Gamber ’85, Assistant Head of School for Advancement
Alison C. Greer, Director of Admission and Financial Aid
Molly Mundy Hathaway ’61, Trustee
Timothy W. Hathaway, Trustee
Janet P. Havlik, Dean of Students
L. Renee Hawkins, Director of Institutional Technology
William S. Hodgetts, Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations
Gail E. Hutton, Head of Lower School
Catherine Y. Jackson ’83, Trustee
Lila Boyce Lohr ’63, Trustee
Peter D. Maller, Trustee
Robyne McCullough ’07
Jessy Molina, Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Stacie M. Muñoz, Faculty
William M. Parrish, Trustee
Andrea M. Perry, James Center Director
Jennifer C. Rao, Director of Academic Affairs
Tung T. Trinh, Head of Middle School
Felicia A. Wilks, Head of Upper School
GFS Board of Trustees
The Board-led Strategic Planning process, chaired by trustee and current parent Helen Zinreich Shafer ’93, began with surveys in February 2015 to college-aged alumnae, current parents, 9th-12th grade students, faculty, staff and trustees.
Using the survey data, some of which was analyzed by the Upper School Statistics class, the Strategic Planning Committee and the GFS administrative leadership team conducted a series of spring planning sessions to begin to frame strategic initiatives. Pat Bassett, founder of Heads Up, former president of the National Association of Independent Schools and past GFS grandparent, is serving as a consultant. In fall 2015, the Committee reviewed and evaluated emerging initiatives for the final document, which was shared with the broader school community and voted upon by the Board of Trustees.
And the survey says…
80% of college-aged alumnae responding are attending their 1st or 2nd college choice
89% of college-aged alumnae responding felt GFS “very well” or “well” prepared them for college
98% of students responding feel challenged to their “full academic potential”
72% of parents responding feel GFS does “very well” or “well” when it comes to teaching students to be creative and innovative
91% of all employees responding give the “work itself” and relationships with co-workers top marks
90% of families currently enrolled cite GFS as their only or 1st choice