Creating a Vision for the Future

October 10, 2012

Dear CAIS Community,

On September 7, 2012, CAIS Board Chair Susan Cheng wrote to the community stating that,
Last year, the board led the community through a re-examination of the mission of the school which led to our revised mission statement. This year, the board will work with the faculty, administration and other stakeholder groups to set forth a vision of CAIS for the next five to 10 years—no longer asking “why we exist” but “how we deliver our mission” and “what we will look like” in the process. 
Standing on thirty years of history, we can look forward with confidence and pride.  We have a renewed mission, a supportive and cohesive community, and a strong and committed faculty and staff.  Our financial position is strong, enrollment is high, and admissions numbers are robust.  Our profile in the Bay Area and nationally is on the rise. 
We are in an excellent position to look forward with confidence and think strategically about the most important issues facing the school over the next five years.  What are our challenges, what are our opportunities, and what should our “best self” look like five years from now?  Should enrollment continue to grow?  What facilities requirements must we meet in order to support our educational program?  What will our Chinese English dual language immersion curriculum look like?  How do we integrate technology to improve teaching and learning?  Are there additional opportunities with Chinese partner schools that we should pursue?  How do we define success for our students and for our programs?  How can we maximize the chance for student success?  How do we continue to attract, develop and retain great teachers?
These are exciting questions, and this is an exciting time for our school.  In the coming weeks and months, we will be engaging the greater community to determine the most important issues facing our school.  In the last few years, we have collected a great deal of data from a wide variety of stakeholders.  There have been parent satisfaction surveys from the Parent Association (now the FSA) and the school, stakeholder interviews, school mission surveys, and hundreds of informal conversations and email exchanges with students, parents, staff, alumni, trustees and school founders.  From this data, several issues have emerged again and again.  Now it is time to go back to our stakeholders—faculty, staff, administration, parents—and ask if these are, in fact, the issues on which we should focus its energy and resources for the next five years.  We will be asking for your input—again—very soon.
Once we have settled on our top issues, we can create a vision of what our school will look like that addresses those issues.  This process will require a combination of wide-eyed dreaming, hard-headed pragmatism and a great deal of hard work.  I am committed to making this process representative, inclusive and transparent.  During the 2012-2013 school year, you should expect periodic updates from me.
It is gratifying indeed that as an institution and as a community we are in a position to dream about a vision of our future and focus on the business of making it a reality.  I look forward to working together on this project.