The President's Blog

Culture, Leadership & Spirituality at our School  
Amy Gutknecht


To be known, loved and respected is not just a slogan in our community. It has long reflected how our staff and faculty interact with students and how students treat each other.

The events of the past few years related to hazing, alleged bullying and harassment, and racist comments, while diminutive in number given the size, age and maturity of our population, nonetheless  are troubling and saddening. This should energize us and tell us that we have an opportunity as we increase the diversity of our population, to set a higher standard of inclusivity for ourselves, our graduates and our community.

This is one of the key strategic issues facing our community. How can we reaffirm the strength of our commitment to knowing each students’s unique value, show them the love we have for each of them and help them to learn self-respect and respect for each other?

What Outcome do we Seek?

We as a community of parents, teachers, staff, coaches, administration and students must understand our purpose, values and goals, recognize and celebrate the strengths of our current culture, as well as its vulnerabilities, jointly discuss our options for growth and build a commitment to a student and parent experience aligned with the core belief systems of the school and its broader community.

The board and the leadership team are sponsoring a synod this year to listen and engage a group representing the community to look at our current systems and propose changes to assure we are meeting our objectives:

1.    ALL students will understand and model inclusive behaviors for self, others and the world.

a.    Explicit and Implicit rules on behaviors that help the community excel as well as behaviors for which there is zero tolerance.

b.    Norms of interaction with each other

c.    Restorative justices processes for learning

d.    Boundaries for community removal

 2.    ALL students will be able to access their “profile” and will be able to articulate their own unique gifts and a vision of how they intend to make a significant contribution to society with a matriculation plan delivered to faculty prior to graduation.

3.    ALL staff will understand and model The Hill-Murray Value System as articulated in our Belief Systems. They will understand why it’s important and will develop a clear way they can model this system in the community and celebrate that behavior in our students.

4.    All students will be able to articulate and will have demonstrated their understanding of Catholic Social Tradition and the role of service to others in their lives.


Who will be involved?

  • Board Members, students, Leadership Congress members, Link Coordinator, Counselors, Alumni and Parents.
  • A steering committee of “elders” from these groups will be convened to provide basic architecture and theme for our discussion, assuring the “voice” of their constituency and developing a list of specific desired outcomes.
  • Groups comprised of elders and others will then meet independently for each desired outcome to develop specific goals given our current reality/programs etc.

A final report including definitions and initiatives including measures of success will be compiled and reviewed by the Board, the leadership team and the Leadership Congress for adoption in the 2020-21 school year.


What do we envision?

A data gathering effort of current state (surveys, focus groups etc.) to be completed by staff.

Understanding why? And our Goals from multiple frames of reference (Administrative team, Leadership Congress, Board of Trustees, Coaches and Moderators, Students) during  an approximate 3 hour facilitator led session (#1) Following this session there will be small group (4-5) sessions working on recommendation with active discussion of options for improvement during the fall/early winter by small work groups.

Included in that discussion but not limited to:

  • A pre-school start in 9th grade for all students.
  • Integration with the LINK program.
  • Integration with the 9th grade retreat
  • Integration into the 9-12 Religion Curriculum.
  • Development of a student “profile” to assist students, faculty and administration in measurement and analysis of growth.
  • Integration with the Advisory (11 sessions) program.
  • Reallocation of Speaker time (9) sessions.
  • Integration and coordination with retreat curriculums.
  • A preschool program for all parents.
  • Integration of our parent speaker series.
  • Creation of an assessment process for each student around the value of reflection and development of the whole person.
  • Modification of the teacher review process to include a component for modeling of KLR principles and commitment to the culture of inclusivity.

There will be a second large group session culminating in a report to the community (Board, Staff, student body, parents) by early 2020:

  • Funding for the recommendations will be in the budget for 2020-21 school year.
  • Revised programing will commence in the fall of 2020.
  • Assessment and reflection in the summer of 2021.
  • Revision and enhancements in fall of 2021.


What is the expected Timing?

The program MUST be in place for fall of 2020. We expect that the effort can begin with data gathering in the spring of 2019:  with the Administrative team retreat discussing its priorities for the 19-20 school year; a half day retreat with the Leadership Congress to discuss the environment and goals for this kind of program; and a board retreat in August all with the objective of providing a report communicating the goals to the full leadership congress at their first meeting in 2020 and a draft program to be presented to the Board of Trustees in the Spring.

There will be a two-year commitment of funding for the program to assure it gets a firm foundation.

If any parent or teacher is interested in being part of this effort, please reach out to me and let me know: