Steering Committee Kickoff Meeting

The purpose of the kickoff meeting of the Steering Committee was for the group to develop an understanding of the purpose of the strategic planning process, the role of the Steering Committee, key trends affecting Salem, and the progress to date of the six work teams. 


  • Purpose: Allow Steering Committee members to begin to get to know each other and feel comfortable with one another.
  • Activity: Each person was asked to share their name, role, and something they are passionate about.

Group Norms

  • Purpose: Build consensus around group expectations and behavior.
  • Activity: The superintendent provided a review of the group norms that were set at the senior management team retreat and invited suggestions on potential amendments.

Discussion of the Purpose of Strategic Planning

  • Purpose: Ensure that the full committee understands the purpose of the strategic planning process and allow time for discussion of the need for a strategic plan and the ultimate goal of the process.
  • Activity: To start this discussion, committee members were given a 21st century "quiz" to help them understand the realities of the 21st century and the skills students will need to succeed in an evolving society. Then, a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson was shared with the group. This video, entitled “Changing Education Paradigms”,  explores the need for a radical rethink of school systems in order to cultivate creativity and prepare students for the 21st century. This talk served as the starting point for the Committee’s discussion on the ever-changing world and the need to be future-focused.

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process and the Role of the Steering Committee

  • Purpose: Ensure understanding of the governance structure of the strategic planning process, the overall timeline, and the role of the Steering Committee.
  • Activity: The superintendent provided an overview of the strategic planning process and governance structure. She also gave an overview of the role of the Steering Committee:
    • Meet four (4) times during the process, with some correspondence between meetings
    • Recommend additional members for Work Teams
    • Integrate what the Work Teams generate
    • Share and communicate relevant discoveries through internal and external channels
    • Help establish priorities for the district, based on Work Team findings and proposals
    • Surface critical issues
    • Review and offer feedback on mission/vision/values, work team drafts, and consolidated strategic planning document
    • Provide input on the final deliverable to the Senior Management Team to share with School Committee for ratification

The superintendent also provided detail on the role of each individual Steering Committee member:

  • Model participation in an authentic learning community
  • Attend scheduled meetings and attend to pre-reads
  • Adhere to the norms developed by the Committee
  • Serve as ambassador to fellow teachers, administrators, parents, students, etc. ready to describe the strategic planning process and its importance to the future of Salem
  • Collaborate with co-leads of other work teams and with all members of the steering committee
  • Make meaning of existing data and participate in the collection of additional data
  • Go on relevant site visits and participate in other explorations, as offered by respective work teams

Overview of Key Trends in Salem

  • Purpose: To provide the Committee with a foundation of knowledge about current trends in the city and ensure that Committee members had a chance to absorb and discuss the data and its implications for the strategic planning process.
  • Activity: A comprehensive report of district and city level data was shared with the Committee. Key trends in the school district were analyzed and discussed by the group. The Committee was asked to discuss the following questions:
    • What do the data mean to you? What patterns do you see? What was new information for you?
    • What about this data excites you? What concerns you?
    • Based on all of this, what are some of your initial ideas about what we need to do together?

Work Team Updates

  • Purpose: Ensure that each Committee member understands how the six levers for change were chosen and where each of the corresponding work teams currently stand in the progress they've made to date. This activity also enabled work team co-leads to seek advice from other Committee members on the issues facing their teams.
  • Activity: Following a brief explanation from the Superintendent of how the six levers for change were identified by the Senior Management Team, the co-leads of each work team were then asked to share highlights of their work to date with the Committee. 

Closing and Next Steps

  • Purpose: Gain a sense of the general takeaways for Committee members and provide logistical details on where the Steering Committee is headed.
  • Activity: Each Committee member was asked to share a one word reflection/takeaway from the meeting. They were also asked to complete an online survey to provide feedback on the meeting. Finally, future meeting dates were identified.