Case Study

Planning to Continue Excellence and Inclusivity in Education

A New Strategic Direction For A Private School After The Pandemic


St. Francis School (SFS) is an independent, interdenominational school providing high-quality education to children from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. SFS is committed to low student-teacher ratios and attention to the needs of every student; to excellence in achievement without exclusivity in admissions; and to a student body that is integrated racially, ethnically, economically, and religiously. SFS serves approximately 400 families in Austin, Texas.

St. Francis School


The much-beloved head of school retired after more than 30 years of leadership. A new head of school was hired in 2021 in the middle of the COVID pandemic. When life at school returned to more normal, post-COVID operations, the school board initiated a strategic planning process for 2024-2027 to lead the school through the major transitions and adapt to a changing cultural and political landscape in Austin.


Create a community-wide strategic planning process that the voices of school leaders, parents, faculty, and students to build on the school’s strong history of excellence in education for all of its students. Dr. Duke customized the process to reflect the values and priorities of the school community, including:

Designed a survey of the entire school community, primarily assessing the degree to which the school is fulfilling its mission and educational philosophy and the school’s biggest strengths and challenges.

Identified themes from the survey’s findings to gather in-depth insights from parents, faculty, and students on topics such as Faculty Experiences; School Safety; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Reviewed the summarized survey findings and focus group themes were in multiple meetings with the SFS Board.

Facilitated, full-day work session to identify priorities and name goals and objectives for the strategic plan. The full plan was reviewed and approved by the SFS board in December 2023.

Case Study Testimonials

“I highly recommend Dr. Hallie Duke, a skillful strategic planner who played a pivotal role in enhancing the educational landscape of our school. Through her adept use of focus groups and meticulous survey design and analysis, she skillfully gathered valuable insights from various stakeholders, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement.

The school’s newly developed strategic plan stands as a testament to her commitment and vision, driving positive change and fostering a dynamic learning environment. As a Head of School tasked with carrying out this plan, Hallie appropriately and thoughtfully scaffolded the process for me, making sure I had input throughout and carefully orchestrated the timeline for the process to ensure it was completed and representative of the mission and values of the school. She was very responsive to communication, always went the extra mile, arrived early, stayed late and was always well-prepared. I highly recommend Dr. Hallie Duke’s services.”

Emily Vitris, St. Francis Head of School