Our Future Is Strong, Edition #2

Dear Good Shepherd Families,

As we prepare for continuing updates from the State of Texas, the City of Dallas, and also our Episcopal Diocese, please know Good Shepherd is working hard with you, and for you and your family. We are continuing "Our Future Is Strong" series of brief, informative emails/posts which began two weeks ago on April 30, 2020 and will come out every two weeks. Through these emails/posts, we will share our thoughts and preparations for our return to campus. Currently, we do not know whether our return will be in July with on-campus camps or in the fall with the start of the new 2020-2021 school year. 

In this second edition, we will focus on two topics, a design thinking project and financial impacts of the pandemic. We will engage in our design thinking project to creatively consider options for the 2020-2021 school year and to consider ways the school can partner with you to assist with any financial impacts you might be experiencing as a result of COVID-19.  

Design Thinking Project

As you know, Good Shepherd hosts the Stanford University d.school faculty each summer for a workshop in design thinking. These workshops attract educators from far and near to our campus, and design thinking, in its many forms, can be spotted in so many places at Good Shepherd. That is why, when we were considering how the 2020-2021 school year could look for our students, families, faculty, and staff, we knew it was a wonderful opportunity for a design project. The d.school faculty offered to help facilitate the project at no cost because of our long-standing relationship with them. We want to creatively look into the uncertainty of this next school year and identify ways to provide rich experiences for our students and families, similar to the ones you have come to expect from Good Shepherd. 

We start any design thinking process with empathy interviews so we can understand the users’ experiences, both in distance learning and on campus. Last week, a group of our leadership team conducted several empathy interviews with parents and faculty members. This week, we are working with the d.school faculty to synthesize the interviews and look for important themes to guide our next steps. We will begin using their Future Thinking Protocols as we deepen our thinking. We will continue to keep you informed on our progress! 

Financial Implications

We recognize we are all living through very unusual and unprecedented times, and we are sensitive to any changes your family may be experiencing as a result. While 70% of our families have opted into the Tuition Guarantee Program, and will not have a tuition increase for this next school year, we realize any private school tuition can be a challenge in these times. As we enter this new school year, if you find yourself faced with unexpected financial impacts, such as a job loss, please contact Melinda Madurai, Chief Financial and Operating Officer, at mmadurai@gsesdallas.org to discuss your financial situation and options for applying for a temporary, emergency need-based tuition assistance grant. Melinda will partner with you to identify possible options to reduce the short-term financial stress facing your family.  

While this pandemic has had significant budget impacts for families, businesses, and governments, it has also impacted our school. It is not “business as usual” for Good Shepherd, and many of you have asked how this is impacting us financially. 

The school is currently balancing reduced revenue from important programs such as summer camps and extended day, as well as increased amounts in tuition assistance. We are also forecasting increased expenses for safety protocols in order to keep students, faculty, staff, and families safe when we return to campus. To offset costs, we have altered some hiring decisions that do not affect the classroom. Overall, savings we find in one place are being offset by lower revenue or additional expenses in another place, and our budget is lean. 

It is our number-one goal to continue delivering the high-quality education and supportive community you know and expect, whether on campus, from a distance, or through a hybrid model. Please know we are working hard to achieve this goal amidst the challenges we are all facing. We are thankful for you, our community, and know we will emerge stronger. 

Please expect the next edition in this series in two weeks, or sooner, if there is information to report. We will also post the series on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage for your reference.  

Together we are #gsesStrong, 

Julie McLeod, Ph.D.
Head of School