For the past couple of months I have participated in the strategic plan process of our local high school, Lakeland Regional High School of Wanaque New Jersey. You can see the sum of the work of our prior sessions on the school’s web site here. Just look on the right side under “Announcements” and the link is there for the PDF file.
At the outset I was somewhat skeptical as to my value in all of this. I have no children who have attended the school, I pay no taxes that directly go the the school (I own no local property), and I had not been on the campus except for an occasional athletic activity. Most everyone else who participated had a vested interest: administrators, teachers, students, parents, board members. I wondered why I was even invited to join the process. But God knew better.
I had been through processes like this before–usually in a church setting–and there are a lot of similarities. Looking to identify strengths and challenges, then moving ahead to form a vision, laying out objectives and strategies are all part of the process. But it is different in a secular setting and that was a learning experience for me. I saw highly motivated people who care greatly for the institution, for the people who serve, and for the students they teach. I received an entirely different outlook on public education than I had before and I was greatly impressed.
Now that is not to say I like everything that is taught in public schools but I do look more favorably upon those who are called to teach and administer at Lakeland High School. Those I met truly do care about what they do and that impressed me greatly.
There were some specific issues that rose to the top of our discussions and became the focal point of the strategic plan that will be set before the Lakeland Board of Education for consideration and adoption for the next five years. Will everything proposed be accomplished? No. But I believe a good map has been laid out for quality education to continue for the Ringwood, Wanaque, and Haskell communities.
At least one pastor was educated and that probably was important all by itself.