Letter from the Head of School

Creating Clarity and a “Change-Ready” Culture

Dear Friends,

Since my last letter in June, we have had a busy summer and early fall getting ready for the adventure that awaits us this year and for the next few years to come. You may remember that we spent last year gathering information from stakeholders, ultimately receiving 515 survey responses and holding 11 focus group meetings with parents, faculty, staff, alumni, alumnae, and students. This information was combined with the 758 survey responses previously received from the Head’s Entry Survey, with trend data from both the National and New York State Association of Independent Schools, and with regional census information to create a data set that reflects The Albany Academies at this moment in time.

Members of the Board of Trustees, school leadership, and the AAPA then met in June for a day-long retreat facilitated by the Strategic Planning Committee. Various themes emerged from examining our data set, which were distilled down to five areas that seemed to warrant strategic attention:

Academic Excellence. While overall satisfaction is very high for our academic program, stakeholders expressed desire for specific improvements in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math as well as more focus and resources dedicated to Instructional Technology.

• Attracting and retaining a highly engaged and effective faculty. While there is a high satisfaction rate with our current faculty, the data reflected that faculty turnover, retention, and morale should be a priority for the school.

• Consistency. Parents and students would like to see more consistency and coordination across The Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls, as well as better consistency in the treatment of all students.

• Community. There is work to be done to create a better sense of community between schools and divisions, and a sense of belonging and inclusion for all students who attend The Albany Academies.

• Enrollment. As the demographics for younger school-aged children continue to trend downward, increased efforts should be focused on attracting and retaining Lower and Middle School students.

Since the retreat, the Strategic Planning Committee has been hard at work formalizing a strategic plan that addresses these themes, which will be shared in November once adopted by the Board of Trustees.

Until then, we have been preparing The Albany Academies community for the change process that will necessarily follow this plan, and I want to share a few ideas that I believe will be essential to successfully meeting the goals of our new plan:

Clarity. This year we have adopted the theme of, “creating clarity through coordination, collaboration, and consistency.” We’ve chosen the word “clarity” because, after crunching through all of the data provided to us, it seems to be one of the things that our community is most hungry for. The words “coordination” and “collaboration” were added because students and current families reflected that our two great schools are even better when they complement each other by thoughtfully working together. As for “consistency,” this was the one thing that all of our stakeholders strongly agreed could be improved.

Culture. “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” While the origins of this sentiment are a little murky — attributed equally to organizational management gurus Peter Drucker, Edgar Schein, and Mark Fields — its meaning is absolutely clear. The Albany Academies will only successfully meet some of our more culturally sensitive strategic goals when our stakeholders fully invest in making them a reality. This is why creating clarity is such an important concept.

Why? I want to close by sharing one of the exercises that we have used to both build culture and create clarity. Modeled after the work of Simon Sinek, faculty and staff began the year by answering his simple but profound question: “What is your Why?” Here’s a composite of our answers:

“Our Why is our students. We love sharing our passions, inspiring children, and helping them grow into the people that they are meant to be. Our work is rewarding, exciting, and challenging. Our Why is the connections we make and the community we build. Our Why is making learning fun and inspirational in a school that is designed to let us do our best work. What we do matters, and we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Clearly we are poised to continue doing amazing things, and I look forward to sharing the roadmap for this journey next month.


Christopher J. Lauricella, Ed. M.
Head of School
What must never change about the School?
What could change about the School?
What should change about the School?
    • Introducing Head of School Chris Lauricella

List of 1 items.

  • Transition Committee

    Chris Bender '78, P'15, '20, Co-Chair of Transition Committee
    Eileen Considine P’08, Trustee, Co-Chair of Transition Committee
    Jennifer Amstutz P’19, ’21, Trustee
    Dave Ashton P’17, ’21, ’21
    Nancy Carey Cassidy P’13, ’15, Trustee
    Tom Cassidy P’13, ’15
    Adam Collett P’32
    Karin Epstein P’18, ’21
    Anna Flik P’18, ’20, ’23, ’26
    James Hart P’09, ’10, ’13
    John Hayes ’87, P’16, ’18, Trustee
    Donna Keegan P’06, ’10
    Robert LuPone P’24
    Sandra Miorin P’10, ’12
    Wendy Muhlfelder ’67, P’94, ’98, ’99, ’00
    Timothy Owens ’83, P’15, ’19
    William B. Picotte ’67, P’01, ‘04
    Jim Poole ’68, P’02, ’14
    Shelly Reid P’12, ’23
    Susan Sneeringer '72, P’01, ’04, ‘08
    Kaari Stannard P’20, ’23, Trustee
    Ann Wendth
    Vince Zabinski P’99, ’03, ’04, ’04

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