About Our Process
The Four Phases of Our Strategic Design Process
University High School is currently in the final phase of an exciting and dynamic two-year-long strategic design process, with the aim of creating a strong but flexible framework in which we will learn, assess, and plan for our school's future.
In this first phase of the process, the Strategic Design Committee began a thorough survey of the school’s history and current climate. By investigating exactly where we’ve been, where we are today, and where our community hopes to go in the future, the committee sought to gain a comprehensive view of our school.
IDENTIFYING OUR VALUES
During phase two, the SDC honed in on a far-reaching but succinct set of community values to guide their work in establishing a vision for University’s future. By basing our strategic design on the values we all share, University can ensure that we stay a future course that remains true to who we are as an institution and community.
OUTLINING OUR VISION
With all the pieces that were collected from learning together and discussing our values, the committee set forth a structure by which the school can make strategic goals and decisions both now, for the purposes of this process, and also in the future, as new opportunities and challenges arise.
DESIGNING OUR FUTURE
This will be an exciting and evolutionary time for our community, and we look forward to embracing our future, while also staying true to the caring, focused, community that believes in the promise of every student.
Our Theory of Transformational Education
We embrace education as a transformational rather than a transactional endeavor.
Our vision for excellence infuses every dimension of our strategic design, and the key ingredients throughout are connecting, inventing, and designing. The image of a bridge beautifully and elegantly captures the spirit of these three fundamental elements.
Just as a bridge powerfully connects two distinct locations, we want our students to be adept connectors – of people, of cultures, of ideas – and we want UHS itself to foster meaningful connections with the larger community and the world.
Building a bridge involves innovative, integrative thinking that remains nimble and responsive to community needs and values. We want to equip our students to do that kind of thinking brilliantly, in service of the greater good.
To create a bridge that will endure requires not just a spark of invention, but sustained engagement to fulfill a long-term vision. We want individual students to engage in building a future with a sense of deep purpose at their core, being thoughtful about what really matters to them and the impact they hope to create in the world.
Our Inspiration: Research and References
The names of individuals, organizations, books, articles, and other resources listed below reflect a partial list of sources we consulted for inspiration, ideas, and evidence-based research along the journey of our strategic design process. We would like to credit their help and influence, while also acknowledging that the non-linear and broad approach of our process can't be captured here in its entirety.
- Andrea Saveri (UHS ‘80) , Saveri Consulting, Making the Future Actionable
- Robert Sapolsky (UHS Parent ‘15) Professor at Stanford University and Author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers
- Carla Silver, Executive Director, Leadership+Design
- David Barkan, Principal Consultant, Barkan Consulting Group
- The Independent Curriculum Group
- Folio Collaborative
- Challenge Success
BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids by Pope, Brown and Miles
- Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz
- How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims
- Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner
This groundbreaking bestseller is “a road map for parents who want to sculpt their children into innovative thinkers” (USA TODAY) and a guide for “an employer looking to have a pipeline of creative talent” (Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO).
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond
To close the achievement gap, diverse classrooms need a proven framework for optimizing student engagement. Culturally responsive instruction has shown promise, but many teachers have struggled with its implementation—until now. Hammond draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to offer an innovative approach for designing and implementing brain-compatible culturally responsive instruction.
- "Personal Best" by Atul Gawande, appeared in the Annals of Medicine, 2011.
No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own. That’s where coaching comes in.
- "The Building Blocks of Learning" by David Brooks, The New York Times, 2016.
- "The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life" interview with William Deresiewicz, The Atlantic, 2014.
William Deresiewicz explains how an elite education can lead to a cycle of grandiosity and depression.
- "Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers" by Jan Hoffman, The New York Times, 2015.
- "Measuring Emotional Intelligence in Early Adolescence With the MSCEIT-YV: Psychometric Properties and Relationship With Academic Performance and Psychosocial Functioning" by Rivers, Brackett, Reyes, Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey, published in the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 2012.
The authors report that EI can be measured reliably with the MSCEIT-YV and that higher scores on the test are related to healthier psychological functioning and greater social competence based on both teacher and student ratings, as well as to academic performance in English language arts.
- "The Impact of Enhancing Students' Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions" by Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, and Schellinger, published in Child Development, 2011.
This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement.
- "Social-Emotional Learning Pays Off" by Timothy P. Shriver & John M. Bridgeland, Education Week, 2015.
- "A Call for a Movement to Redefine the Successful Life" by Alina Tugend, The New York Times, 2013.
- "Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review" by Farrington, Roderick, Allensworth, Nagaoka, Keyes, Johnson, and Beechum, University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2012.
- "The Case for Authentic Assessment" by Grant Wiggins, published in the peer-reviewed journal Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation (PARE), 1990.
As the founder of the Understanding by Design movement, Wiggins describes the importance of direct examination of student performance on worthy intellectual tasks.
- "School Start Time for Adolescents" by the Adolescent Sleep Working Group, Committee on Adolescence, and Council on School Health, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014.
Meet our Strategic Design Committee
Chair of Strategic Design Committee, Trustee,
P’16 & P’20
P’06, P’08, P’12, & P’15
Julia Russell Eells,
Head of School
Trustee, P’12 & P’17
P’15, P’16, & P'19
P’09, P’11, & P’16
Matt Farron ’98,
Grant Winfrey ’84,
Assistant Head of School,
Dean of Faculty
Dean of Students
Faculty Affairs Committee
Assistant Dean for Professional Growth,
Student Life Committee
Shreya Gandhi-Gupta ’16
Paul Gross ‘15
San Francisco University High School is proud to collaborate with the following organizations: