Strategic Plan Update: Co-Curriculars

This month, we update the community on the progress of the following initiative: With students, explore co-curricular offerings, examining student participation rates and ways to adjust offerings to meet current and emerging interests. This initiative falls under the first goal of our strategic plan: Students engaged in maturing programs with compelling impact.

The work on this initiative is being led by Miryam Harvey, Dean of Faculty and Students, April Lorenzo, Director of Athletics, and Lilly Christensen, Receptionist. The co-curricular umbrella holds a wide variety of programs that touch every student at SGS, including athletics, morning and after care, student interest groups and affinity groups, Wednesday Workshops, and the 6th grade mentor program. Managing such a wide array of programs can be challenging, but the co-curricular team has worked hard this year to set up surveys and other systems to gather feedback from students and families to improve these programs in a post-COVID era.

Morning and after care is one program that has nimbly evolved this year in response to the changing needs of its students and families. The start time was moved up from 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. for families who needed more care. Because kids drop in at different times every day due to sports and other commitments, the activities have been changed from one per day to a bigger project per week so that any student can easily participate throughout the week. Projects included weaving, clay making and felt making that are interactive and keep students off of screens, which was another family request. Next year, the team hopes to offer even more activities and find ways to give participating students more freedom to do work around campus while still staying secure. Miryam and the team will also interview the core morning and after care families this summer to get key feedback from them.

This year, Wednesday workshops offered 14 choices for kids each term, the most since COVID. This meant that more students got more of their top choices which led to more satisfaction and even repeat attendance in certain workshops. After each workshop term, April sent out surveys asking students about things they like about their workshop, what workshops they’d like to return for the next term, and other suggestions for improvement to the program. Survey participation was very high among the students, indicating a high level of engagement in the process.

As programs like Wednesday Workshops, Snowbus, and the 6th grade mentor program continue to expand in offerings or participants, so too has the need for adult instructors, volunteers, and mentors. There is pressure with inflation to meet the rising costs of paying instructors and chaperones for programs like the Workshops and Snow Bus, as well as find more mentors to get the program back to a 1:1 adult to student ratio like it was before COVID. Miryam and the team are looking for ways to keep the programs sustainable while retaining instructors and volunteers. Parsing out the line item costs for Snow Bus—equipment and rentals, for example—is one way the team has made the expenses for that program more efficient. Miryam and the team hope to explore other ways to keep the programs sustainable going into next year as well, including increased outreach for instructors and mentors.

Overall, the impetus of the strategic plan initiative has made the team “more intentional and more responsive from term to term,” said Miryam. With diligently offering surveys every term, to talking to families and soliciting student council for feedback, the team has been able to adapt more quickly within the year to the shifting needs of SGS students. The analysis and feedback has also been more specific in regards to learning why students participate in some programs but not others. For example, for some students the affinity and interest groups are great ways to meet up with their friends, while for others, they would rather stay with their groups of friends at lunch. Some students’ athletic needs are being met outside of school through club sports, while others participate in sports through SGS. Armed with this information, Miryam and the team hope to continue refining the programs to meet the needs of students while equitably paying instructors and retaining mentors that are integral to the system. With high participation rates across all the programs, the co-curricular programs are in a position of strength coming out of COVID.
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.