By Joyce Ajlouny, Ramallah Friends School director
Only a 35-minute car ride away, we traveled from a very chilly Ramallah to the desert warmth of Jericho, where we held our strategic planning retreat. Samir Hulieleh — RFS board member, alumnus and parent — offered his winter home and pampered us with wonderful food as we deliberated the future of our school. A joint team encompassing board and staff members met and planned the next five years.
While some questions posed dealt with immediate academic concerns, others were more strategic in nature. Members did not shy away from questions such as: Should we start a two-year liberal arts college? Should we re-establish a boarding school element? All of the queries challenged us to think about how to leverage our successes and move the school to the next stage in its history. An inspirational introduction by Samir helped us recognize the importance of focusing on an educational program that encourages students to think, learn and discover for themselves, especially in this fast- changing technological world that we live in.
We did not end up with an elaborate final document that focuses on our long-term future, but a simpler one that addresses the pressing issues of the day. It incorporates all of our thoughts and decisions, but rather than a “strategic plan,” we consider it our “improvement action plan” that we intend to follow, monitor and update as we go along. We didn’t feel we had enough time to tackle the big questions, but hope to discuss more strategic issues in the near future.