Dear Kew-Forest Community Members,

The Kew-Forest School’s Centennial in 2018 celebrated the positive impact on thousands of lives through 100 years of education, friendship, and love. More essentially, we reaffirmed our commitment, duty, and responsibility to see that the School remains true to its mission and, following in the impressive work of generations before us, inspire students for the next 100 years. 

One thing the disruption caused by COVID-19 has reminded us is that even well thought out plans can be fragile. The Strategic Plan laid out below is rooted toward continuous improvement. It is designed to be robust but fluid - a path toward achieving the school’s key goals while being responsive to current and future needs. It has been a labor of love and we hope it has a lasting positive impact on generations of students and educators to come. Kew-Forest is made possible by its involved community and I am excited to see the good things we can achieve together in the coming years.
The Strategic Plan is the outcome of a yearlong collaboration between the Kew-Forest Board of Trustees, School leadership, faculty, alumnae, parents, and educational consultants. Many community members had some form of impact on this plan, too many to individually recognize here. Many thanks to each and every one of you. I cannot fully express my overwhelming gratitude to members of the Strategic Planning Committee.* They understood that a century of historical success did not guarantee our future. Their knowledge, insight, support, and energy in crafting a plan for the rapidly evolving ways in which students are taught and learn made this plan come to life.  I would also like to thank Ms. Carla Jantos MacMullen, Head of School, and Mr. Christopher D’Amato, Chair of the Board of Trustees, for their partnership and steady leadership in shepherding this plan through multiple layers of review and appraisal and ultimately overseeing its approval by the Board of Trustees. 

It is my honor to share with you Kew-Forest’s Strategic Plan -- Building a Sustainable Future: A Five-Year Strategic Plan of The Kew-Forest School. 

Ellen Honig ‘86
Chair, Strategic Planning Committee
Secretary, Board of Trustees

*Strategic Planning Committee
  • Chair, Ellen Honig ‘86 (Secretary, Board of Trustees; Parent '15, '22)
  • Facilitator, Sally Mixsell (Educators Collaborative, LLC)
  • Chris D’Amato (Chair, Board of Trustees; Parent ‘18, ’19, ’21)
  • Anouchka Filippi (Former Business Manager / Human Resources)
  • Gary Gordon (Social Studies Department Chair, Director of International Relations Program, Upper School Social Studies Teacher)
  • Ariel Henry '10 (Assistant to Head of Lower School)
  • Carla Jantos MacMullen (Head of School)
  • Gregory L. Matalon ‘91 (Vice Chair, Board of Trustees)
  • Ann Spelman (3rd Grade Teacher, Former Director of Advancement, Parent '07, '11)
  • KC Toh (Member, Board of Trustees; Parent '21, '24, '29)
  • George Tsiatis ‘00 (Member, Board of Trustees)

Building A Sustainable Future:

A Five-Year Strategic Plan for The Kew-Forest School

On September 25, 2018, The Kew-Forest School marked the 100th anniversary of its opening and began a joyful year-long centennial celebration. Throughout the year, and especially during our spirited centennial Gala at the Queens Museum, we honored our School’s history, recognized the people who came before us, and celebrated the traditions that connect us to our past. We also reached out to the future: students across grade levels contributed to a time capsule, which we buried in Aldo’s Green to await Kew-Forest’s 150th birthday. The centennial was an opportunity to reflect on our past and imagine the future. Through conversations, meetings, and surveys, we asked Kew-Forest constituents to tell us what was exceptional about Kew-Forest, how we should continue to improve, and what the future of our School might look like. This is where the work of the Strategic Planning Committee began.

Students, parents, and alumni consistently praise Kew-Forest for its small nurturing community that feels like a second home. They credit the care, creativity, and dedication of our teachers for fostering within our students a strong sense of self, respect for others, and the tools required to explore personal academic and creative interests well beyond high school. Students and alumni cite teachers or experiences that changed their lives. We also hear how prepared Kew-Forest graduates feel when they arrive at college, and how the School’s core values of hard work, integrity, and respect for differences has helped them succeed in the workforce. Kew-Forest relationships - between graduates but also between alumni and faculty - endure and strengthen over decades.

We also received constructive feedback that noted evolving community needs, ways to align with educational best practices, and opportunities to improve school operations. This led to rich discussions about how best to serve our students at a time when the world is advancing at a stunning pace, especially in science and technology; when we understand how social, emotional, and physical safety at school impacts learning and belonging; when climate change is disrupting the environment and creating an uncertain future; and when social, political, and cultural norms are evolving in unexpected and consequential ways. In the end, there were the two overarching questions: “What must Kew-Forest do to prepare students for a world that we can only imagine?” and “How can we ensure that Kew-Forest, itself, has a durable, sustainable future?”

Those two questions guided the multidimensional strategic planning process launched by the Board of Trustees and Head of School. Together they formed three groups to explore and identify responses. One task force dove into the The Kew-Forest School Mission Statement to determine whether it remained relevant and resonant. A second group examined and synthesized data to identify specific strategic goals for the Board of Trustees and School leadership to accomplish over the next three to five years. The third committee took inventory of the School’s campus and identified resources that could fulfill the Kew-Forest Mission and strategic goals. An overview of each group follows.

The Mission Task Force

A school’s mission statement is the foundational guide for its purpose, program, and culture. It represents the ethos of a school and the values it holds most dear. The first step in our strategic planning process required an evaluation of Kew-Forest’s existing mission statement. Did it clearly communicate the essential principles and goals of our school? Was it a true reflection of Kew-Forest today? Faculty, administrators, and trustees assessed the previous mission statement and engaged in exercises which identified recurring themes and words. The Mission Task Force used that information to begin drafting a new mission statement. After several drafts and focus group discussions, the Task Force submitted a final version to the Board of Trustees in July 2019. The Board unanimously approved a new mission statement at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The newly articulated Mission Statement of The Kew-Forest School is as follows:
We are exceedingly proud of Kew-Forest’s new Mission Statement because it accurately and succinctly portrays who we are, what we stand for, and what we aspire to be. This small collection of words carries great meaning and serves as the cornerstone for building the future of Kew-Forest.

The Strategic Planning Committee

The second pillar of Kew-Forest’s vision for the future was the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), which first convened in early 2019 and included members of the School’s leadership team, faculty, parents, and alumni. The Committee received guidance from an outside educational consultant who specializes in helping schools like Kew-Forest identify, articulate and prioritize their strategic goals. The SPC spent several full-day retreats examining the results of a Strategic Vision Survey distributed online to faculty, staff, administration, current parents/guardians, and alumni ambassadors, as well as an array of data submitted by Kew-Forest’s Division Heads, Admission Office, Business Office, other departments, and major program leaders. It weighed the feedback received against a draft of the rearticulated Mission Statement and compiled a list of goals and objectives for the School to accomplish in the next three to five years. The resulting Strategic Plan - ”Building a Sustainable Future” - was presented to the Board of Trustees for final review in September 2019. The Board unanimously approved the Plan and then handed it to the Administrative Team and Trustee committees for tactical evaluation and implementation. A summary of the goals, and the reasons for each goal, is presented below. It is our hope that, after reading them, you will be inspired to join us as we build a sustainable future for a unique and extraordinary school.

The Master Planning Committee

The Master Planning Committee formed in the 2017-2018 school year, with the goal of understanding Kew-Forest’s potential for future enrollment and new programs as well as to accurately budget for ongoing maintenance and capital improvements. Its members included Trustees and administrators, plus consultants who provided expertise and guidance. The group catalogued, examined, and assessed every square foot of Kew-Forest’s campus and buildings. By 2020, the Master Planning Committee will submit to the Board a Campus Master Plan that charts a long-term strategy to support the School's Mission and academic program. The Campus Master Plan will:

  • include a comprehensive list of campus spaces and space standards, to guide us in connection with potential upgrades and redevelopment plans;
  • examine whether current instructional, programmatic and administrative spaces, as well as related infrastructure, adequately support our Mission and Strategic Plan, and identify areas for possible expansion; 
  • and explore potential real estate redevelopment opportunities presented by Kew-Forest’s assets in support of our Mission and Strategic Plan.
Each of the three components outlined above are interrelated and focused on the long-term health of The Kew-Forest School. They are essential to our ability to move forward with our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Goal 1

Enhance Kew-Forest’s Student-Centered Program

Our Students

Support each other and explore thoughtfully as they shape the future.
Today’s students face a future few can imagine. Preparing students to succeed in that world is the heart of Kew-Forest’s Mission. We are not certain of what the future holds for our students, nor how technology will further transform what and how we teach, but we know that a student body that is competent and confident will foster encouragement and support throughout the community as each individual pursues personal passions. By creating an environment and program that inspires students to develop the mindset, skills, and knowledge they need to navigate the world, we will prepare students to work together to shape the future.

Our first Strategic Goal is to ensure that Kew-Forest’s academic program is thorough, innovative, and student-centered. We will do that by providing developmentally appropriate programs in each of our three Divisions; strengthening the dynamic among academic content, social emotional-development, and the use of technology; and recognizing learning differences.

Strategic Initiatives

By 2025, we will:
  • Conduct a thorough assessment of the entire Kew-Forest curriculum, with a special focus on Math, Science, and Technology, to ensure all state standards are being met, 21st Century skills are being taught, and the scope-and-sequence among the three Divisions is unified by
    • exploring and evaluating innovative approaches to teaching and learning as they relate to Kew-Forest’s Mission, core values, and curricular goals;
    • evaluating the integration and use of instructional technology in all Kew-Forest classrooms to ensure students are being adequately prepared for college, careers, and civic life in the 21st Century;
    • and identifying the “signature programs” within each Division to define their relevance and value, as well as their sustainability in the case of faculty turnover.
  • Analyze and update co-curricular offerings at all grade levels to ensure they align with the School’s Mission and allow students to explore interests, sharpen skills, and nurture talents outside the regular curriculum
  • Design and budget for a more robust Learning Support Program across the three Divisions to ensure all students with learning differences receive targeted instructional assistance for achieving their academic goals 
  • Assess and reimagine the Kew-Forest Middle School program to more clearly distinguish it as a Division specifically dedicated to the social, emotional, physical, and academic development of students in Grades 6 through 8
  • Continue to strengthen the College Counseling program by developing a multi-year sequence of communication and outreach that gradually and effectively prepares Kew-Forest students and their families for the college application process

Goal 2

Foster School Identity and Community

Our Community

nurtures lifelong learners from around the world.
Kew-Forest is unique. For over 100 years, it has served the ever-changing population of Queens, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. Whereas other independent schools must seek out diversity, Kew-Forest lives it. Our students and families represent 70 different nationalities and speak more than 30 languages at home. In addition, Kew-Forest students are socioeconomically diverse: 51% receive some form of tuition assistance.

Few independent schools can boast such a multi-faceted student body. In this unique environment, our faculty have the privilege of creating an expansive academic program that acknowledges, supports, and transcends so many cultural, ethnic, economic, and racial identities. Kew-Forest teachers approach this work with joy and curiosity which draws out the same in their students.

Kew-Forest has vast experience nurturing lifelong learners from around the world, and our results have been exceptional. Kew-Forest students make lasting friendships with peers whose skin color, hair texture, family make-up, traditions, and home languages are very different from their own. In every classroom, students explore topics from a variety of authentic perspectives. Our cultural celebrations span the globe and highlight the unifying forces of our shared humanity. At the same time, Kew-Forest achieves the more traditional goals of an independent school education through our highly personalized college application process; each year our students receive individualized support in finding their best match schools. Ultimately, they matriculate to a number of selective post-secondary institutions.

Our second goal is to more clearly identify and articulate Kew-Forest’s uniqueness as a community that lives its mission to educate citizens who will have the capacity, skills, and confidence to make a global impact. To meet that goal, we must open our ears to new voices and our minds to new practices so that we are able to more fully embrace our school identity and live it more boldly and loudly.

Strategic Initiative

By 2025, we will:
  • Prioritize professional development opportunities that encourage faculty, staff, and students to develop a common language for discussing diversity and addressing the challenges that occur naturally within an inclusive community
  • Enlist Kew-Forest constituents from a broad range of backgrounds to identify different facets of diversity within the Kew-Forest community (including, but not limited to: age, ethnicity, family makeup, gender identity and expression, learning ability, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status) and develop ways to recognize and honor each one
    • Partner with the Kew-Forest Parent Association in building a more inclusive profile for its leadership team and developing new ways to incentivize parents in all three Divisions to attend School events and volunteer their time and talents toward Mission-appropriate needs
    • Invite parents to on-campus educational events that cover topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion to enhance their understanding of Kew-Forest’s unique profile, share their own cultural heritage with the school community, and activate their support of School values at home 
    • Create a system to mentor and educate parents who are new to Kew-Forest, or unfamiliar with independent school culture, so they can better understand the School’s schedule, policies, procedures, traditions, expectations, and volunteer opportunities
  • Vigorously promote school-wide participation in Kew-Forest traditions and rituals (past, present or future) that honor the School’s diversity and build school spirit, pride, and a unified sense of community
  • Conduct a thorough review of Kew-Forest traditions and rituals, past and present, to determine how well they serve Kew-Forest’s current population; create new traditions and rituals as needed to foster inclusivity
  • Increase parent engagement at Kew-Forest by redoubling efforts to provide regular, timely, and informative communications between home and school

Goal 3

Support the People who Inspire Our Students

Our Educators

inspire young people to think boldly and find their voices.
Students are at the center of Kew-Forest, but just as essential is how the community of adults who surround them teach them how to think boldly and find their own voices. Our Board of Trustees and Administration are committed to hiring and retaining teachers who are not merely qualified to teach their academic subjects, but also passionate about being life-changing educators. When we hire members of the Kew-Forest community, we search for caring, competent people who will embody our core values. When we review student applications, we strive to admit those whose parents and guardians will partner with our teachers, reinforce our Mission and school values at home, volunteer time and talent for the sake of all of our students, and provide philanthropic support, whenever possible.

Recruiting and hiring educators, administrators, and staff members who are willing and able to inspire students is only the first step in building a strong Kew-Forest community. It is even more vital that we recognize, value, and reward their great work. This is how the School retains exceptional employees. Our third strategic goal is to ensure that Kew-Forest identifies new and compelling ways to support and inspire the adults who give generously of their time and talents.

Strategic Initiatives

By 2025, we will:
  • Explore new avenues for recruiting and retaining highly qualified, talented, and Mission-aligned faculty, staff, and administrators
    • Research options for teacher recruitment, especially as they serve to identify a diverse pool of applicants 
    • Establish a new teachers orientation program that is ongoing throughout the first year of employment at Kew-Forest
    • Create a mentoring program that will enable more experienced teachers to share their knowledge and wisdom with younger and/or less experienced faculty
  • Develop and implement a plan that promotes professional growth, personal development, and institutional loyalty among Kew-Forest’s teachers, administrators, and staff
  • Strive, through a gradual budget-building process, to align Kew-Forest’s salaries and benefit packages with those offered by peer schools 
  • Establish and begin to implement equitable pay scales based on measurable factors such as title, job responsibilities, years of experience, educational degrees, and tenure at Kew-Forest

Goal 4

Discover Our World

We are The Kew-Forest School.
For more than a century, Kew-Forest faculty have worked to ensure that students acquire a firm foundation for academic inquiry and achievement, a strong sense of self-identity, the confidence to speak up and be heard, and the understanding that other perspectives deserve consideration and respect. Year after year and decade after decade, the School has prepared its graduates to succeed not only in highly competitive colleges, but also after, in countless careers.

In fact, for most of its history, Kew-Forest was known as “the best kept secret in Queens.” Times have changed, however. Local families have more educational options for their children and are more willing to travel greater distances to find the perfect school. To stand out and continue to attract new students and parents who share its values and goals, Kew-Forest needs to be known. Well-known.

Our Fourth Strategic Goal, therefore, is to refresh Kew-Forest’s image in the marketplace. Current members of our School community should know and understand Kew-Forest’s newly updated Mission, core values, and unique strengths so they can share their pride and speak with passion about what it means to be a Kew-Forest student, teacher, parent, or alum. We must also develop new and powerful ways to communicate and celebrate who we are and how we connect with the world beyond Kew-Forest.

Strategic Initiatives

By 2025, we will:
  • Develop a common language to communicate Kew-Forest’s unique strengths as a vibrant and diverse educational institution with three distinct Divisions that cater to different stages of a child’s social, emotional, physical, and academic development
    • Develop a Communications plan that utilizes all internal channels of communication to reach different Kew-Forest constituents in clear and consistent ways
  • Budget for and create a comprehensive external marketing plan that strategically targets students and parents seeking an independent school environment that is rooted in diversity, guided by meaningful traditions, and is innovative in its approach to educating students in Preschool through Grade 12 
    • Create new Admission materials that accurately reflect Kew-Forest’s updated Mission, core values, and commitment to diversity 
    • Seek out students, faculty, parents, alumni, and other members of the Kew-Forest community whose voices and experiences can tell “the Kew-Forest story” in a compelling and passionate manner

Goal 5

Build a Durable and Sustainable Financial Future

Shaping Kew-Forest’s Next 100 Years
Our final Strategic Goal builds upon the ongoing work of the Board of Trustees in its role as steward of the School’s financial health and longevity. As part of its celebration of Kew-Forest’s 100th birthday in 2018-2019, the Board reviewed its Governance policies and procedures and set specific goals to strengthen Kew-Forest’s future.

Strategic Initiatives:

By 2025, the Board of Trustees will:
  • Continue to strengthen Kew-Forest’s governing body through examination and adoption of current Principles of Good Practice for Boards of Trustees
    • In conjunction with the Head of School and the Administrative Team, implement a three to five year Strategic Plan that reflects the school’s newly articulated mission and core values
    • Update the succession plan for Board membership, cultivate new Trustees who will accurately reflect the diversity within Kew-Forest’s student population and address expertise in a number of identified areas on the Board
    • Develop strategies to improve the effectiveness of Board committees
    • Examine and clarify the Board’s role in fundraising
    • Develop a Campus Master Plan to guide the budgeting and scheduling of facilities enhancements and deferred maintenance 
    • Convene a task force around equity and justice

By 2025, the Business Office will:
  • Coordinate with the Admission Office to examine the potential advantages of various tuition and tuition assistance models in order to establish new policies that are fair and balanced for both our families and the School
    • Examine how current tuition levels and tuition discounting affects the Kew-Forest community
  • Explore and assess new avenues of non-tuition revenue that would align with Kew-Forest’s Mission and not place undue strain on the School’s academic schedule, facilities, or staff
  • Expand the budgeting process to include 18-month and three-year financial forecasts
  • Establish the costs related to meeting Strategic Plan goals and work in concert with the Development Office and Board of Trustees in determining how to finance the various initiatives
  • Work with members of the Administrative Team to review and determine Kew-Forest’s technology infrastructure needs

By 2025, the Development Office will:
  • Conduct a Development Office audit
    • Create a comprehensive, multi-year Development Plan centering on goals and strategies to increase endowment, foster a more-robust and inclusive Annual Fund, promote The 1918 Society (Planned Giving Program), and expand stewardship of new and current parents, past parents, grandparents and alumni
    • Review the cost-effectiveness and community building results of past and current fund-raising efforts and special events to better allocate Development Office resources in supporting Kew-Forest’s strategic goals
  • Improve Alumni engagement with the School
    • Develop, in conjunction with the Alumni Council, a multi-year plan for reengaging alums from all decades, updating alumni contact lists, strengthening alumni communications, and cultivating alumni volunteers for fund-raising efforts, special events, and student mentorship/internship opportunities
    • Plan and implement a program of engagement targeted specifically to Young Alumni (students who have not yet celebrated their ten-year Kew-Forest reunion)

By 2025, the Admission Office will:
  • Create a system to collect data which will be used to analyze the relationship of enrollment, attrition, retention history, tuition, and tuition assistance and to compare the School’s metrics to local demographic and income trends. Ultimately this information can be used for enrollment forecasting and to effectively allocate personnel resources in the Admission Office

The Kew-Forest School

119-17 Union Turnpike
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-4667
The oldest independent school in the borough of Queens, The Kew-Forest School is an independent co-educational, college preparatory school for students in Preschool through Grade 12.