Hisar School, founded in 1996 with two grades, has become a well-regarded, progressive institution that educates PreK-12 students at a single campus in Istanbul, Turkey. With 1,370 students; our students are flourishing inside and outside of the classroom; our facilities are adequate for current needs and we are moving towards a balanced budget. We believe it is during this positive era for the school that we can best set ambitious but achievable goals for our future. During the 2013-4 school year, the Board of Directors and School administration initiated a process intended to enable Hisar School to realize its true potential as an educational institution in Turkey via more careful and goal-oriented planning.
The strategic plan process, then, was born of an interest in the continual improvement of the school for the purpose of better fulfilling its mission, to help all students “Discover and Develop Their True Potential.” This plan therefore outlines what goals the community has identified as the highest priorities until 2019-2020. At Hisar, we typically have more ideas for improvement than we can implement with the money in our budget and the time in our days. The Strategic Plan, therefore, is intended to help the Board and administration prioritize goals and to allow our entire community – teachers, parents, students, alumni – to participate in the realization of these goals. Together, we will look to this plan and the performance indicators to provide a roadmap for the ongoing evaluation of our efforts.
We began the Strategic Planning process in May 2014, when 35 members of the Hisar community – parents, teachers, students, Board members and administration – came together to participate in a brainstorming session about the future of the school. That group, through a series of exercises moderated by consultant Mike Miller, ultimately identified five primary goals for the school to pursue in the next 3-5 years.
Finally, we completed the plan through various reviews with our communities.
I.November-December 2014: Drafts distributed and feedback solicited
a.Draft distributed to parent, teacher / staff, student and alumni communities in late November
b.Survey link accompanied the drafts, inviting those receiving the documents to provide their thoughts through multiple-choice and open-ended questions
c.3 on-campus feedback sessions were held to invite further responses from all communities. These were held during morning, afternoon and evening hours in order to accommodate all potential participants.
II.December 2014-February 2015: Edits
Draft was edited according to feedback and compiled into a full proposed plan reviewed by the Board of Directors
III.February 2015: Finalization and Adoption
Board reviewed plan, provided final edits and approved
We created this process to engage the maximum number of community members while allowing for meaningful input along the way. Our hope is that this process has built support for the Plan throughout the Hisar family.
With the Plan’s approval, we established the following periodic reviews in order to ensure we track our progress against the plan:
I. Committee reports. Each committee will report quarterly to the Strategic Planning Committee. This group will then summarize all activities for the Board.
II. Annual “State of the School” report. This report will be delivered each May to the Board by the General Director. The report will provide a year-end summary of school operations as well as progress against our Strategic Plan goals.
III. Distribution. Each year during the life of this Strategic Plan, all new families, faculty/staff, administrators and Board members will receive a copy of the Plan as well as the “State of the School” report summaries for prior years as part of their orientation.
As discussed, we have identified five primary goals to pursue over the next 3-5 years. These goals, along with the key priorities for achieving them, are below.
- Academic Excellence
- Academic and Student Profile
- Financial Strength
- H.E.V Leadership and Governance
We will continue to provide, and build on, an outstanding academic program.
Hisar School seeks to provide an extraordinary education to all of its students, who we consider to be the future leaders of Turkey. We consider ourselves successful in this goal when we teach our students to think critically, to communicate clearly, to collaborate effectively, and to contribute meaningfully as students and global citizens. In order to accomplish these outcomes, we encourage autonomy in individuals and broad, international awareness in our community. Our curriculum favors approaches that are active, task- and project-oriented, collaborative, and pioneering in order to teach the problem-solving and interpersonal skills relevant for success in the 21st century. Finally, with relentless dedication to our own improvement and innovation, Hisar seeks to further the adoption of progressive education in Turkey.
In order to achieve this goal, we will:
- Provide a rich, innovative curriculum that will ensure Hisar School students an outstanding educational experience.
- Integrate 21st-century skills into our curriculum and classroom activities, particularly through project-based learning.
- Provide parents essential training in support of this integration.
- Be Turkey’s leading school in the appropriate use of technology in the learning environment from the earliest years through graduation.
- Provide appropriate, educational, and well-timed co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for students of all ages.
- Attract the best teachers from a variety of backgrounds and cultures to support our students’ international perspective and outstanding language skills.
- Ensure that our community exhibits a shared understanding of and language regarding the School’s mission, identity, and curriculum.
We will attract and retain an experienced, first-class faculty and staff as well as a talented, diverse student body committed to the Hisar mission, values and programs.
Hisar believes that attracting and retaining a faculty and staff of the highest quality is an essential priority of the school. Sensitivity to working conditions and quality of life for faculty and staff is critical for maintaining excellence and a long-term commitment to the School. A strong program of opportunities for professional development is a necessary element of a strong academic community. Attracting and retaining a talented and diverse student body drawn from a large geographic base is equally important. We want Hisar to be the school of choice for those hoping to be future leaders of Turkey and individuals who will have positive impact on a global scale.
In order to achieve this goal, we will:
- Build a Hisar faculty and staff that comprise a dedicated and distinguished group of professionals who seek and model excellence in a responsive and rigorous academic environment.
- Provide a faculty and staff compensation and benefits package that is competitive with Turkish schools of our size and in our region in order to attract and retain extraordinary faculty and staff.
- Attract the “best and brightest” students from Turkey and retain them through the high-school years.
- Consider expanding scholarship programs, both need-based and merit.
We will continuously assess the facilities needed for the current and future Hisar educational program, as well as develop and maintain a long-term Master Plan for the current location.
Hisar’s facilities must support evolving programmatic goals for its students. The school must provide the proper facilities for flexible instruction and optimized enrollment, a sense of community, programmed integration, co- and extra-curricular activities, and more communal space. Facility improvements must be in line with our commitment to the environment and green standards. Hisar must also remain strategically poised to take advantage of any properties adjacent to or near Hisar that become available and to make adjustments to its facilities as the School’s needs change.
In order to achieve this goal, we will:
- Ensure that we address the near-term needs of the facilities to support the current enrollment and Hisar educational program while avoiding excessive re-work each year and improving our practices in sustainability and environmental awareness.
- Create a long-term Master Plan for the current location.
- Plan carefully and implement appropriate work for the ongoing maintenance of our current facilities.
- Remain vigilant about identifying and acquiring adjacent properties and forming strategic alliances that could support Hisar’s programmatic needs.
We will ensure that Hisar exemplifies a strong financial position as it secures a sustainable, yet flexible future.
Financial stability is critical to the long-term confidence and continuity of the School. Hisar recognizes the need to provide competitive compensation packages for its faculty and staff and sufficient funds for academic program excellence and innovation as well as facility maintenance and improvement. The School is equally cognizant of concerns around rising tuition costs and the extent to which the school is able to respond to global and local political and economic variability, which may result in enrollment fluctuation. Hisar recognizes it can no longer solely depend upon tuition to balance its budget, support its faculty and students and enhance its rigorous academic programs. We must secure additional and varied resources coupled with a business plan that charts proactive efforts for future sustainability.
In order to achieve this goal, we will:
- Develop a Strategic Financial Plan to support the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan.
- Implement and/or strengthen mechanisms for strong budgetary discipline.
- Carefully and continuously manage Hisar’s enrollment within the capacity of the space – as determined by the Master Plan – in order to ensure that the School always has a full complement of students.
- Position and benchmark our financial aid within the appropriate range of peer schools of our size to support Hisar Educational Foundation objectives, enrollment objectives, affordability and a socio-economically diverse community.
- Create and implement a strong communications and marketing plan with both internal and external components to support the School’s goals and strategic direction.
The HEV Board will exercise the highest standards of board governance and provide leadership for implementation of the Strategic Plan.
The HEV Board has ultimate responsibility for the School and holds its future in trust. As a result, Hisar School continues to develop and support a strong Board of Directors whose composition reflects the School’s mission and strategic objectives in service to the School. The Board of Directors will exercise international “Best Practices” in governance, ensure that Hisar is appropriately positioned legally and through policies for future financial sustainability and will provide important leadership and involvement with the Strategic Plan and its implementation.
In order to achieve this goal, we will:
- Continually refresh and diversify the Board’s membership and leadership.
- Work to clearly align and sustain the respective responsibilities of School leadership and the Board.
- Engage in a moderated retreat once per school year to reflect on Board practices and goals.
- Promote the visibility, understanding and transparency of the work of the Board of Directors and its committees, and encourage leadership opportunities for members of the community, including parents, alumni and others.
In this section, we share updates about our Strategic Plan.
Goal 1 - We will continue to provide, and build on, an outstanding academic program.
(Update: November 2016)
Our plan calls for the achievement of excellence by “teaching for the 21 st century,” the skills our graduates will need to prosper in their university studies and beyond. This means a curriculum that will favor active learning that is project-oriented, collaborative and that focuses on problem-solving and interpersonal skills. How have we achieved this?
In the high school, it’s maker space where students are able to develop robotic devices, code writing, build drones, video games and construct any number of other projects. A walk through this area of our high school will reveal students working after school, evenings and weekends, in an environment mostly designed by students. Guided by teacher-mentors, students are creating incredible projects and competing throughout Turkey, Europe and North America.
The iPad project in the Middle School has won the distinction of an Apple Distinguished Program (the only such distinguished program in all of Turkey). Teachers have developed innovative methods of integrating academic curriculum with the use of the IPad and thus – develop new approaches to student motivation for learning.
AP and AP Capstone programs. These programs allow our students to enroll in competitive, college level work that better position them for college admissions. Enrollment in these classes has grown by 25% since 2015. Nineteen of our students were named “AP Scholars with Distinction” in 2016.
A new mentorship program has been launched in the high school wherein 12th graders provide mentoring for 9th graders in such areas as time management, preparing for exams and general orientation.
Formative Assessment has been very successfully introduced into our curriculum in the Primary, Middle and High Schools. Consisting of creative methods of measuring learning, formative assessment, rather than passing or failing, emphasizes the learning process.
Modern Languages has shifted from more traditional teaching to active student-oriented learning, requiring students to speak more in class, utilizing short dialogues.
Professional Development, now offered at Hisar by both the State University of New York and Boğaziçi University, has emphasized teaching strategies in “Teaching for the 21st Century.” An example of this is “Drama Techniques for the Language Classroom.”
These are some, but not all of the academic initiatives that have resulted from the Hisar Strategic Plan. Look for discussion of other “Pillars” in the upcoming months.
Goal 2 - We will attract and retain an experienced, first-class faculty and staff as well as a talented, diverse student body committed to the Hisar mission, values and programs.
(Update: September 2016)
Hisar believes that attracting and retaining a faculty and staff of the highest quality is an essential priority of the school. A strong program of opportunities for professional development is a necessary element of a strong academic community.
In this update, we will focus on our robust professional development (PD) program, which Hisar believes is an essential part of keeping education in the classroom at the cutting edge. PD opportunities at school and outside of school are offered to all faculty and staff members. Hisar has introduced a number of unique programs in the past 3 years including a Masters degree program in partnership with the State University of New York (SUNY) for English-speaking faculty and a program in Turkish with Boğaziçi University, that launched this past August. In addition, 45 of our faculty and staff attended various trainings and conferences in 2014-2015 Academic Year. Hisar also hosted the first ever Google Summit for educators in Turkey. In 2015-2016 Academic Year, 52 of our faculty and staff attended various trainings and conferences. Hisar also encourages TTT (teachers teaching teachers) programs to foster an environment of information sharing and synergy. Hisar’s robust Professional Development program has boosted a significant rise of interest in Hisar as an employer and longer years of tenure.
State University of New York (SUNY) – Multidisciplinary Studies Masters Program
In June 2016, the Master's Program in Multidisciplinary Studies with The State University of New York (SUNY) which started as a result of Hisar's unwavering commitment to 'Professional Development', gave its first set of graduates. In completion of their courses, eleven Hisar Faculty members received their diplomas from Mr. Cardenas who handed them out on behalf of SUNY. While the two compulsory, semester long courses were conducted online, the rest eight courses, worth 24 credit hours, were taught by visiting professors on Hisar’s campus. The progressive, up to date curriculum of the Multidisciplinary Studies, M.S. Program of SUNY is designed to refresh and broaden teachers in their approach to enhancing student learning as well as invigorating them in their professions. The second group of 24 Hisar School Faculty members, who will be working towards their MS degree at SUNY, are scheduled to take five courses during 2016 - 2017 Academic Year.
Boğaziçi University Life Long Learning Center - Teachers Who Make A Difference Academy
Teachers Who Make A Difference Academy started in August 2016 in cooperation with Boğaziçi University Lifelong Learning Center is conducted in Turkish. The program enables Hisar teachers to keep abreast of the cutting edge developments in education, to practice applications through workshops and develp new skills with some of the leading academicians in the country. The program has started with 30 teachers who will receive their certificates upon completion of 8 courses during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Academic Years. The program includes courses such as Play for Creative Teaching, Technology in Education, Developing Positive Relationships, Differentiated Teaching Strategies, Developing a Democratic School Community, Research Methods in Education, Evaluation and Assessment.
Goal 3 - We will continuously assess the facilities needed for the current and future Hisar educational program, as well as develop and maintain a long-term Master Plan for the current location.
(Update: October 2016)
We established a Facilities Committee in 2015 to oversee the creation of a long-term Facilities Master Plan to make best use of our land-locked campus. This Plan is a road map for how to continue to grow and improve the school campus to better support the educational, athletic, and community programs at Hisar School. It will span 6 phases, that will increase the school facilities by 35% for an additional 9.000 gross square meters of facilities. By doing so, the gross square meters per student will become 24.0, putting us in line with a benchmark of 24 top international schools.
Hisar received a generous donation for this Plan, which included an architectural review and design. Hisar School chose to work with Flansburgh Architects, a global, award-winning architectural planning and design firm based in Boston, USA, recognized as a leader in the planning and design of K-12 schools. Flansburgh has completed more than 275 educational projects including 60 master plans and feasibility studies for schools throughout the US and abroad. Their recent work includes the American International School of Johannesburg, American School of Paris, and International College Beirut. Flansburgh’s extensive experience has earned it more than 125 awards for project management and design excellence, the majority of which are from educators.
Flansburgh Architects met with Hisar School administration, teachers and parents throughout 2015-2016 Academic Year and planned and designed improvements and additions to our facilities, shared with us with 3-dimensional plans and made iterative changes to best meet our needs, coming up with the 6 phased Master Plan.
Over the summer, “Phase Zero” of the plan was initiated, resulting in an additional 1,300 sqm of play space and change in the campus traffic flow. Regular maintenance and improvement works were also completed over the summer.