University School of Jackson

Headnotes: Writing the Next Chapter

November 1, 2021


Greetings USJ Families,

Few things are more exciting than potential...Many of us remember driving a baby home from the hospital and speculating on just how exactly this child was going to change the world. I love receiving and opening a new book in anticipation of all the lessons it has to teach me buried in its pages. In sports, we always look forward to the future accomplishments of the first-round draft pick or rookie of the year.

We have just begun an ambitious initiative of strategic planning at USJ that brings a tremendous amount of potential with it. For those who have been around for a while, you may recall we last went through a strategic process during the 2015/16 school year. We can see the impact of that project all around our school today. The most noticeable examples may be the campus master plan and the Imagine More campaign that has literally changed our landscape. This important work continues, and soon you can expect to hear much about “Imagine More” entering perhaps its most significant “Fourth Quarter.”

Much more than buildings came from our last plan, as we updated our school’s mission statement, began the Jones Academic Center, and have invested much more in the growth of our faculty and staff through late start professional developments, book studies, and an enhanced annual evaluation model. Now, we live out this mission of constant growth by developing a new five-year plan this fall and winter.

A new strategic planning process, which will be led by our Board of Trustees and senior administration and facilitated with the help of outside consulting, promises to guide the important work of educating the total child as we continue to improve upon our goal of being the best teaching school in West Tennessee. We are currently gathering input from parents, students, faculty and staff, and the larger school community to initiate the process. We are evaluating our current status as it relates, not only to academics but facilities, finances, personnel, and more. We will soon be compiling and analyzing all of this data to guide us in setting goals that we hope will be challenging, achievable, and meaningful as we look to the next five years.

Strategic thinking seeks to ask three very basic but crucial questions which must be answered honestly and thoughtfully:

Who are we?

Who do we want to become?

How do we get there?

Once these questions have been answered, we are given the task of implementing this plan over the next five years. Not only will such a plan lead to our continued accreditation with SAIS, but it will become our roadmap to continued growth and not allow us to fall into the death trap of complacency.

As a historian, I constantly attempt to see things in the larger scope of time. Throughout the pandemic, we have talked as a faculty and leadership team about the fact that people will always remember how we respond as a school and how we treat people during these challenging times. I know that what we are working on now will have a tremendous impact on the lives of so many in our school family. This makes it even more exciting and consequential. 

As a school family, we are preparing to write the next chapter of the history of our school. This chapter will guide us as we pour our lives into the lives of our children who will then be better equipped to go out and make an impact on the world. Therefore, we must take every step carefully and prayerfully as we all have the opportunity for input on our collective future and then actively live out our plan. I cannot think of anything better to do.

I appreciate your constant support and the honor of working with your children.


Don Roe

Head of School  

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