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2013-2020 Strategic Plan

University School of Milwaukee’s previous Strategic Plan, which spanned five years from 2006 through 2010 and was directed by former Head of School Ward Ghory, made significant enhancements to USM in the areas of faculty, curriculum and programs, facilities, value propositions, and financial planning. With that Plan having been completed in impressive fashion, it became my task to lead the School on a new strategic planning process.

This new Strategic Plan addresses the importance of continuing to provide the excellent academic experience that USM is known for, while embedding a culture of leadership for our faculty and students and maintaining a financially sustainable structure that provides us with the ability to “think big.” Our primary goal remains ensuring that our students receive the best possible education, in every sense of the word–not only in the state of Wisconsin, but also nationally.

This Strategic Plan more formally introduces the concepts of global education and engagement, professional leadership, and innovation, and focuses on the importance of providing our students with an experiential learning component that ensures the vital hands-on experiences necessary for a true and demonstrated understanding of concepts, skills, and ideas.

It is truly an exciting time to be a part of USM, and we look forward to implementing and continuing to refine and enhance this Plan in the years to come.

Laura J. Fuller
Head of School

University School of Milwaukee Strategic Plan 2013-2020

Year One Update

Year Two Update

Additional Updates

List of 13 frequently asked questions.

  • May 2017

    • We successfully hosted our second year of Tower Projects in the Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School. Students' projects received much praise and admiration from classmates, parents, teachers, and the wider USM community. (Experiential Education)
    • This year's USM Summer Spark symposium (June 12-13) will feature a strand on developing student leaders. These workshops will discuss how schools can help develop students not only as engaged learners but also as ethical leaders and responsible citizens. Lynn Barendsen of Harvard University and Martin Stegemoeller of St. Mark's School of Texas will be the featured speakers for this topic. (Leadership)
    • The topic of April's Parent Forum was developing student leaders from prekindergarten to grade 12. The presenters were Mike Sweet, Emily Ihrke, Rishi Raghunathan, and Brad Dunning. They gave an overview of how leadership skills are incorporated into the daily lives of all of our students, as well as the many opportunities students have to sharpen those skills. (Leadership)
    • On Tuesday, April 11, our sophomores heard from Nancy Pickett of the Milwaukee Center for Independence and John Hackett, of Balance Incorporated, on the topic of people with disabilities in the Milwaukee area. Matt Lepine '18 joined these community members on stage to talk about his work with Top Soccer and about his experiences growing up with a disabled brother. Meg Stewart, a former volunteer at Balance Incorporated's summer program for children, also commented on her experiences volunteering last summer. This panel discussion is part of a Community Engagement and Community Service program to educate the sophomores on various segments of the Milwaukee community who have unique needs and who could benefit from community service work by our students. (Experiential Education)
  • April 2017

    • USM's Middle School ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) Team, "The Plungers," took third place in a recent city-wide ROV competition at UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences. (Freshwater/Global Education and Engagement)
    • Twenty Upper School students recently competed in the Badger State Science and Engineering Fair in Fond du Lac, with several students earning specialty awards, category awards, or grand award recognitions. (Student Leadership)
    • USM Continues to coordinate participation of Milwaukee College Prep and St. Marcus in our Global Scholars Crisis Simulation. (Global Education)
    • The visual arts teachers are working collaboratively to develop a global project that will be showcased at this year's Arts Live event. They have been photographing students in 1st through 12th grade holding signs that share their visions of peace. They are printing and posting these images throughout the School. They hope to also take this project to the global level, connecting with teachers around the world through their own personal connections, as well as those on social media like the Facebook Art Teachers group and Twitter. Plans are to reach out to local businesses who might be willing to post some photos in their shops, restaurants, etc. Please click here for additional information. (Global Education and Engagement)
    • Several projects are well underway with the Outdoor Education/Environmental Committee. PK and JK students have spent afternoons exploring the campus, discovering and learning more about plants, animals, and nature. Planning the campus gardens has been a recent focus as we get ready for warmer springtime weather. Lower School classes have started to tap and collect the sap from the sugar maple trees to boil down into syrup. Middle School students will continue to work clearing out the invasive species in the woods at USM. Kristian Vaughn '09, working at Graef Company, has produced clear digital pictures of the campus with his drone. He has developed useful, topographic maps of the wooded areas on campus for future planning. Enhancements and repair work have been completed for our greenhouse. Upper School student Brodie Mutschler '19 has begun growing micro greens in the updated space. FLIK Dining Services has included the micro greens in the salad bars during lunch. USM is excited to participate in our second Outdoor Classroom Day on May 18. Outdoor Classroom Day is a global initiative encouraging teachers and parents to take learning outdoors. (Outdoor Education and Experiential Learning)
  • March 2017

    • Global Enrichment Fest focused on the theme of "Water is Life". Upper School Global Scholars, 8th-grade, 5th-grade, and 4th-grade students presented to others at the festival, as well as a large number of parents. Everyone enjoyed hands-on activities, cultural information, and food from all around the world. (Global Education and Engagement)
    • Michael Timm, a scientist and educational game developer from the School of Freshwater Sciences (UWM), visited USM to meet with 9th-grade science classes and 4th-grade classes about fresh water. He also engaged the students in a board game that he has created called "Mussel Madness." (Global Education and Innovative Teaching and Professional Leadership)
    • Upper School student Megan Dogra '17 organized her third Assist Bopal fundraiser and presentation as a member of Global Scholars. This year's fundraiser was sold out; the total raised to date is about $40,000. (Global Education and Student Leadership)
    • Lower School students created wooden cars with accessories from recycled or found materials in the Wildcat Creation Station and raced them on ramps for Lower School Show and Share Night and for the Global Day of Play, in which all Lower School classes participated. (Experiential Learning)
    • Alison Dupee (LS), Will Piper (MS), and Henry Wend (US), presented USM's Global Education framework at the Global Youth Summit conference in Madison, WI put on by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (Innovative Teaching and Professional Leadership)
    • Christina Dresang (LS), Sarah Markwald (MS), and Jessica Michels (US) recently attended the National Art in Education Association Conference in New York City. (Innovative Teaching and Professional Leadership)
  • February 2017

    • Chinese New Year was celebrated at USM on January 13. Activities in Mellowes Hall included making paper lanterns, playing traditional Chinese games, and learning about lucky foods. The all-school dragon parade ushered in the Year of the Rooster (Global Education and Engagement)
    • Thirty teachers from the Center for Urban Teaching group visited USM on February 3. The guests toured all divisions and observed classrooms. The teachers were looking at ideas for cultivating positive school culture and innovative teaching methods in their classrooms. (Professional Leadership and Innovative Teaching)
    • Our Summer Spark 2017 website launched and the registration is under way for this 3rd annual summer symposium on innovative teaching. (Professional Leadership and Innovative Teaching)
    • Nicola De Torre (MS), Kate Gay (US), and Leann Zdrojewski (LS) attended the ISEEN conference in Cleveland. They visited Hawken School and learned about their innovative programming. They also spent time in their Fab Lab, heard from students about their entrepreneur program, and discussed "intensives" with the faculty. Other schools shared their experiential and outdoor programs, and it was a fantastic networking opportunity. (Professional Development)
  • January 2017

    • Global Scholars are hosting Professor Andrew Bacevich in the Upper School. He will speak and answer questions about United States Foreign Policy in the 21st century. Professor Bacevich is the author of The American War for the Greater Middle East, and is an acclaimed expert on American national security and foreign policies. Professor Bacevich also participated in the EE Ford Grant-winning USM Global Scholars Crisis Simulation. 
    • Lower School 4th graders have met with the capstone mentors, who include teachers from all divisions as well as administrative staff. Middle School capstone students presented their work at our second annual EdCafe. The 11 Upper School seniors doing Tower Projects have completed their 30 resources annotated bibliography. They have also been consistently keeping their blogs updated as they track and reflect on their progress through the year.
    • New trip guidelines for all USM international travel have been finalized. These will be shared with all teachers and chaperone students on international trips sponsored by the School.
  • December 2016

    • Miriam Altman presented a workshop titled "Student-Centered Learning through the Lens of Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP)" to approximately 100 Milwaukee Public School music teachers last week. Miriam has also finished helping edit a chapter on the topic for an upcoming book that will be used as a secondary methods resource. (Teacher Innovation and Leadership)
    • Students from Milwaukee College Prep and St. Marcus School joined our Upper School Global Scholars for the introduction to the Crisis Simulation project this past month. The students will all collaborate on the simulation as it plays out throughout the rest of the school year. The theme of this year's Crisis Simulation is Water Crisis in East Africa. The scenario is a prolonged drought that is stressing the region's resources and governments and leaving them susceptible to outside pressures and manipulations. (Global Education and Engagement)
    • USM has hired Colleen Tiefenbrun as our Service Coordinator and the Assistant Director of Global Scholars. As Service Learning Coordinator, Colleen is actively working with teachers in all three divisions to plan and facilitate meaningful service experiences for our Martin Luther King Service Day. In addition, Colleen is collaborating with educators in Lower, Middle, and Upper School to work on incorporating service learning into each grade level, K-12, and streamlining our fundraising and donation drives so that we have more advanced notice and less overlap. (Experiential Education)
    • In her role as Assistant Director of Global Scholars, Colleen is helping Dr. Henry Wend plan the Global Scholars Crisis Simulation mentioned above. She also is helping plan and facilitate this year's Global Expo, which is titled "Water is Life". (Global Education and Engagement)
  • November 2016

    • Attorney Jennifer Bolger-Breceda, Executive Director, Milwaukee Riverkeeper; Mr. Curtis Bolton, Common Ground Watershed Team and former City Engineer for Greenfield; and Professor David Strifling, Director of the Water Law and Policy Initiative, Marquette University Law School presented to USM Middle and Upper School students on the topic of water issues around the world. (global education)
    • Team Ofrenda faculty Sarah Markwald, Shannon Peters, Todd Schlenker, and Will Piper traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, thanks to a Think Big grant, to experience and learn firsthand about the Day of the Dead celebration. (Teacher Innovation and Leadership)
    • Internationally acclaimed speaker and author Kevin Honeycutt is bringing his inspirational enthusiasm to Milwaukee to keynote USM's Summer Spark 17. Kevin's presentations on creativity, technology, music, theatre, and service all revolve around the overall essential mission of education - learning. (Teacher Innovation and Leadership)
  • October 2016

    • Lower, Middle, and Upper School students took part in Outdoor Classroom Day on Thursday, October 5 (experiential learning).
    • Sam Mihara, a survivor of the Japanese American internment camps, came to speak to Middle and Upper School students (global education and engagement).
    • Upper School students took part in retreats and service days in the Milwaukee Community (experiential education).
    • CAT Academy classes designed for experiential and high interest learning for Middle School students debuted as a anew program in September (experiential education).
    • 2016 "Think Big" grant recipients presented their amazing experiences at an all-School faculty meeting. Summaries of the trips are published on the professional development section of myUSM (educational leadership and professional development).
  • March 2016

    • Global Enrichment Fest was celebrated throughout USM in late February and early March. You can read a recap of the week’s integrated cultural activities on the USM website News section.
    • USM recently held its fifth leadership forum of the year. The topic for the forum was “Planting the Seed: Celebrating Initiative at USM.” The concept of initiative is directly related to our School’s definition of leadership: "Having the courage and integrity to take a stand, the vision and influence to inspire others, and the perseverance to create positive change.” The panel included representation from student leaders in Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School. Panelists shared their perspectives about taking initiative to create positive change at USM, which was then followed by a discussion with those in attendance.
    • The capstone projects in grades 4, 8, and 12 are almost ready for exhibition! The Upper School capstones will be presented on Monday, April 18, Lower School on Tuesday, April 26, and Middle School on Tuesday, May 3. Watch for more information next week. Eighth-grade Tower Hour students will also be holding a midterm EdCafe on Thursday, April 21 from 11:05 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in the Middle School Library and Nerdvana (the Middle School maker space). All are welcome to attend! The 8th-grade Tower Hour innovators and entrepreneurs look forward to sharing their work with you and welcome your input and feedback. You can view a link to their work.  
  • February 2016

    • Students in 3rd and 5th grades, along with their teachers, Lower School Technology Coordinator JoAnne Williamson, and Middle School Social Studies Teacher Will Piper, presented two workshops at the Concordia University Wisconsin Technology Showcase on February 27. The 3rd-grade students’ topic was using coding in mathematics and the 5th-grade students’ topic was using technology to accelerate student creativity.
    • Global Enrichment Fest was celebrated throughout USM during the week of February 29. This event featured parent presentations about cultural heritage at each Lower School and Middle School grade level, a special international menu for lunch all week, and assemblies with authors Hena Khan (author of “Night of the Moon”) and Loung Ung, author of “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” who also held an evening parent presentation.
    • Carrie Goldman spoke on February 26 to students in grades 7-12, USM parents, and guests from REDgen Milwaukee on the topic of “Social Media and Social Conflict: How to Have Healthy Relationships in the Digital Age.”
    • Head of Middle School Pamela Nosbusch and Middle School Social Studies Teacher Will Piper presented a Strategic Plan update to the Board of Trustees at their February Board meeting. Information presented included metrics, timeline details, and examples in each division of how the Strategic Plan goals are becoming a part of the overall fabric of our students’ experience
  • December 2015/January 2016

    • Registration for Summer Spark 2016, the second year of USM’s annual innovation symposium for educators to be held June 13 and 14, recently opened. This year’s keynote and featured speakers have already been lined up, and there are already more than 40 new and returning attendees registered during the first week, including teachers from Venezuela and Argentina.
    • Lower School students engaged in Global Student Play Day on Wednesday, February 3, engaging in no-tech experiential learning.
    • Middle School leadership students and advisors attended a youth leadership conference at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School which focused on ways to integrate leadership strategies into daily life in Middle School.
    • Upper School students completed their second Crisis Simulation activity focusing on the refugee crisis in January. Students at St. Marcus School joined the Global Scholars and Dr. Henry Wend for this activity.
    • USM Curriculum Team members met with faculty at Carmen High School of Science and Technology to discuss curriculum alignment strategies.
  • November 2015

    • The Strategic Plan Committees held working meetings on the October 12 inservice day.
    • Four spin-off committees have begun their work this year: the Compensation Committee, the Freshwater Committee (in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), the Summer Spark Committee, and the Outdoor Education Committee.
    • Student work on projects in all three divisions’ new capstone programs is progressing. Students in the year-long 4th-grade capstone program, semester-long 8th-grade Tower Hour capstone program, and year-long 12th-grade Tower Project capstone program are currently involved in research on their various projects and working with mentors to get guidance and feedback. Project deliverables will include “Tower Talk” presentations by students about their projects’ processes and results, and their takeaways. More information will be shared as the capstones progress throughout the year.
    • A new community group has been added to myUSM for faculty and staff to share and keep track of “Think Big” and other grant-funded professional development opportunities, as well as other relevant development that occurs throughout the year. This was the charge of one of the committees in the Center for Innovative Teaching and Professional Leadership, in order to compile and share both newly approved and completed development opportunities more effectively.
    • On October 30, four Upper School English teachers and one Middle School English teacher attended a workshop on Shared Inquiry at Carmen High School of Science and Technology. Carmen is one of our Schools That Can Milwaukee partner schools with whom we share faculty professional development opportunities.
    • A second-year update on the progress of our implementation of the Strategic Plan will be included as an insert in the next issue of USM Today, which will be mailed to parents later this month. In addition to sharing examples from both the classroom and beyond, the document will include a look ahead at what we hope to accomplish by the end of this third year. Every issue of USM Today also includes several stories that are directly related to Strategic Plan implementation, so parents are encouraged to read those.
  • October 2015

    • Capstone projects are underway in all three divisions. All 4th-graders are engaged in capstone research, and there are elective classes in both the 8th and 12th grades that have been rolled out for this school year. There are many interesting topics being researched, with student presentations slated at different times throughout the year. 
    • More than 200 educators, representing more than 60 different schools in eight states and four foreign countries, attended USM’s inaugural Summer Spark innovation symposium in June at our School. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Plans are already underway for Summer Spark 2016. The dates are June 13 and 14, 2016.
    • Faculty and staff were very busy over the summer pursuing professional growth opportunities to help enhance their professional development as well as our students’ learning. On September 21, faculty, staff, and administrators heard from a number of their colleagues who were awarded Think Big/professional growth grants for summer work; this presentation was followed by small group discussions to “think big” about grant opportunities for this coming year.
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