Stepping Through The Open Door

An Updated Strategic Vision
for the Brearley School
The Brearley School challenges girls of adventurous intellect and diverse backgrounds to think critically and creatively, and to act with courage and integrity.
The School fosters a love of learning, excellence in the liberal arts, and engagement in a lively and inclusive community. Guided by dedicated faculty and staff, students learn to uplift one another as they grapple with complex ideas and develop a strong sense of self. We value empathy, originality, and depth of thought and character.
The Brearley community cultivates the joy of lasting friendships, the confidence to pursue one’s ambitions, and a commitment to the greater good.
Brearley’s mission asks our students to wrestle with complicated ideas while supporting and uplifting each other to be the best version of themselves. It affirms the strong bond among all our students and alumnae, united by their adventurous intellect, diverse backgrounds and desire to create a better world. Its insistence on a larger purpose—engagement in and development of a strong sense of self, originality, and depth of thought and character—prepares them to act with courage and integrity and calls upon them to pursue their ambitions and address the issues of their generation. It is purposefully both inspirational and aspirational. 

Over the last few years no topic has been discussed at greater length than how the Brearley community fulfills this mission for all its students. To guide this work, we chose to build upon the exceptional foundation of Opening Doors: A Strategic Vision for Brearley, which was adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2014. Since then, with the support of the community, the School has invested its energy and resources to meet these goals. These initiatives and projects span curriculum, the hiring, development, evaluation and retention of faculty, the physical plant, school finances and staffing and have impacted the experience of every student, faculty and staff member.

We are now pleased to present Stepping Through the Open Door. This guide for our institution’s future does not just focus on the end result or the “what,” but asks “how” and “why” we move forward through a series of questions. This level of inquiry is what we deem essential to offer a world-class education. We invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and purpose.

The Heart of Our Community

Just as “there is no one Brearley girl,” there is no one Brearley teacher, parent or alumna. These people with whom a child learns, plays, works and lives during her time at Brearley contribute fundamentally to her education. Their influence, devotion and wisdom stay with her for life. Our school attracts those who believe in the power of girls’ intellect, and they, in their identities and practice, are a multidimensional, multifaceted group. We prize this diversity, and it is the foundation of the community of mutual concern which we strive to build. This community, guided by our shared values, is an essential element in preparing students for life beyond our walls, where our students will need the skills to lead purposefully and thrive in years to come.

These are the questions that are driving us forward:

How does the composition of the student body further the mission of the School?

How can the School instill in its students an understanding of the purpose of a Brearley education?
How does the composition and skills of the Brearley faculty and staff further the mission of the School? 
How can parents actively support their child’s experience at the School and the School’s mission? 
How can the School strengthen its connection with alumnae in service of the next generation of Brearley students and the greater good? 

A Rigorous and Joyful Education

Brearley’s program, both curricular and co-curricular, stands firmly upon a foundation built over generations. It is also dynamic, reviewed and revised every year as it must be if it is to serve a community whose purpose is inextricably linked to the world beyond our walls. Changes to it align with our statements of belief and our understanding of the intellectual, emotional and physical development of our students. We will continue to build on the work initiated in Opening Doors (2014) to enhance programming in technology, like STEM and computational thinking, DEIA, and health and wellness while also affirming our commitment to the humanities and the liberal arts. 

Brearley students are amateurs in the best sense of that word—they passionately pursue their interests and are eager to learn more, whether about photography or journalism, drawing or neuroscience, robotics or debate. The co-curriculum at Brearley includes a wide range of opportunities, both those that have been in place and those that respond to new needs and interests of students. The goal is to help students understand what it means to be their best selves, to feel a sense of belonging at the School, and to grow as strong, independent young adults who act with courage and integrity and a commitment to the greater good. 
These are the questions that are driving us forward:

How does Brearley’s academic program prepare our students for lives of meaning and fulfillment and for contributing to the greater good? 

How do we ensure Brearley’s academic program challenges the students of each new generation to think critically and creatively? 
How do we ensure that Brearley’s co-curricular programs speak to Brearley’s mission statement? 
How can we ensure that teaching computational thinking both stands alone as an initiative and is integrated across Brearley’s academic and co-curricular programs? 

How can Brearley better prepare students to be responsible digital citizens? 
How do our building renovations support Brearley’s academic and co-curricular programs and mission of the School? 

Ensuring Brearley's Future

This section addresses strategic considerations related broadly to sustainability. Though seemingly disparate ideas, environmental, facilities and financial sustainability is interconnected in important ways. We are fortunately well positioned to think and act strategically as we make sustainable decisions. 

The Environmental Sustainability section explores how, as a place of learning and teaching, we will grapple with local and global concerns about the best practices for our environment and planet through both curricular and co-curricular initiatives, particularly as they relate to our consumption of resources. 

In terms of Facilities Sustainability, we have significantly expanded and enhanced our facilities with the addition of the 590 building to our campus and the coming renovations to 610. We realize that with this expanded footprint and more air-conditioned spaces, we are consuming more energy and producing more waste. This section explores how we will design and build exceptional learning environments that are comfortable, healthy and enjoyable, all while achieving resource efficiency and cost effectiveness. 

Finally, the Financial Sustainability section addresses how we can support the other two sustainability initiatives in the context of our broader needs. In terms of our program, we are operating from a position of strength: excellent academic program; low student-to-faculty ratio; competitively compensated faculty and staff; strong demand in admissions; relatively low tuition; generous financial aid; and relatively high levels of non-tuition revenue, driven largely by our endowment. We also recognize that there is an inherent tension in the long-term sustainability of our model—between the very things that make ours such an extraordinary program and our desire to remain affordable. Some of our environmental and facilities sustainability initiatives will require additional resources, some will be budget neutral and others will create savings in the long term. We will contemplate how to maintain a delicately balanced equilibrium while also providing adequate resources to support our commitment to environmental and facilities sustainability. 
To help ensure Brearley remains on a sustainable path with our mission of working for the greater good kept in mind, these are the questions that are driving us forward: 

How do the curriculum and co-curricular activities support our commitment to environmental sustainability? 
How will we design and build exceptional learning environments that are comfortable, healthy and enjoyable, all while achieving resource efficiency and cost effectiveness? 
How do the “levers” in the long term (net tuition; financial aid; affordability; enrollment management; non-tuition revenue sources; philanthropy; HR and compensation policy; and investment practices) bolster the School’s long-term financial sustainability? 

Telling Our Story

In today’s world of too much information and oversaturation of content, Brearley aspires to communicate its mission and institutional goals consistently and directly to its students, faculty and staff, parents and alumnae. The communication team strives to engender the sense of community based on mutual concern through its messaging. 

This is the question that is driving us forward: 

How can communications improve the understanding and practice of the mission and values of the School, including the DEIA program, by its various constituencies? 

List of 2 items.

  • Modupe Akinola '92

    President, Board of Trustees
  • Jane Foley Fried

    Head of School