Path To A New Century

In June 2021, The Bush School adopted a new strategic framework, A Path to a New Century. Building on Bush’s  core values, the strategic framework articulates aspirations for building on the school’s 100-year-old tradition of  experiential education. The five strategic priorities incorporate how we relate to one another and the world as  a K-12 community, focusing on students’ intellectual growth and emotional health, as well as deeply investing in  diversity, equity, and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.  

The 2021-2025 Strategic Framework modifies The Bush School’s previous framework (2018-2020) and redefines  the most salient areas we must address as a school to ensure immediate and long-term success. With the school’s  values and students at its center, the framework is flexible and responsive. 

The process for creating this framework was led by the Board of Trustees’ Strategic Planning Task Force. Engaging  with constituents from across the Bush community, the Task Force reviewed climate surveys and listened to  students, faculty and staff, parents and guardians, alumni, the Senior Leadership Team, and Trustees. The Task  Force analyzed qualitative and quantitative feedback and hosted conversations with key constituents to craft a  forward-focused strategic framework anchored in a deep love for our school. 

In this recent iteration, The Bush School’s strategic priorities call on us to invest in programs and pedagogy that  will inspire learners; emphasize that the best learning comes from doing with a commitment to elevate experiential  education in Seattle, the Methow Valley, and around the world; honor the voices, stories, and perspectives from  our diverse group of families, students, and educators in order to build and nurture community; create dynamic  learning environments in an effort to support excellent teaching and engaged learning; and cultivate and steward  resources of the school to ensure that for the next century the school can expand access to a Bush education and  will deliver a challenging educational experience that prepares students for college and beyond. 

In the pages that follow, you will find examples of how Bush students and teachers are already putting these  priorities into action with programs like The Bush School’s Robotics Club, captained by two young women who  led the team to its first ever Robotics Club competition; a Middle School Wilderness trip to the Bush Methow  Campus; and the re-emergence of the Buddy Program, a K-5 tradition, after COVID-19 limited contact among  students. You’ll also read how students are using the New Upper School Building’s environmental certifications as  a learning tool on sustainability and design and how the building provides students with open spaces, nestled close  to nature, to engage in interdisciplinary work for their spring Cascades. These stories illuminate how the school’s  aspirations are becoming reality as we emerge from the hold of the pandemic. They also serve as reminders of  the awesome possibilities that are available when we invest in our students.  

The school is setting course on the next century of work from a position of strength. The strategic framework will  help us create a foundation for building a challenging academic environment in which our students will question,  lead, and leave with the skills, habits, and desire to solve the big problems that will face us all in the future. 

Our journey begins now.
- By Percy L. Abram

We will teach students to develop empathy, to think critically, listen actively, and self-advocate

Looking back, Emma A. ’23 wishes she would have joined The Bush School Robotics Club sooner. Hesitant  because of “lack of experience,” Emma has now made up for lost time. She and Ava B. ’23, who also serves  as a captain of the club, are the only two girls on the team and are using their platform to break down the  stereotypes and inspire not only more girls, but all classmates to become involved.  

“When I’m talking to other team captains—who, at our two competitions so far, have been one-hundred  percent male—they’re really ready to assume that their methods, skills, and robot are better than our team’s  based on their perception of me, even though that’s often not true,” Ava said. “Though that’s certainly a  frustrating hurdle, it does make me feel so much more accomplished when the team achieves something  that defies others’ expectations.” 

During the 2021-2022 academic year, the two were a part of Bush history, as the Robotics Club took part in  its first-ever competition on Saturday, January 22, as one of forty-eight teams competing at Lake Washington  High School in Kirkland. Both Ava and Emma said their gender has not been a determining factor in their  experience and growth with robotics at Bush, but they have noticed how it factors in the perception come  competition time.  

“The process by which we achieve our goals may get pretty technical at times, but our starting point and  end goals are really basic: we just want to build something we’re proud of and compete to test ourselves  against other teams,” Ava said.  

Emma and Ava explained the main goals for the future of the club are to continue to build on the foundation  that has been set and continue to make a difference throughout the Bush community. “I would say that one  of the most meaningful things I can do as a woman in this club is to make robotics feel really achievable,”  Ava said.  

As Bush heads into its next century, new and innovative programming like robotics, Cascades, and the  Methow Semester School are designed to inspire learners to defy expectations and develop their voice.  Building on Helen Taylor Bush’s original vision of “learning by doing,” teachers will provide students with  the critical resources required to navigate today’s complex world. Student wellness and emotional health as  well as critical research about learning and the brain will guide teaching and learning. Bush students will be  asked to think critically, ask questions, and seek solutions while developing a sincere appreciation for and  understanding of diverse perspectives, experiences, and identities. 

We will connect on-campus, wilderness, and service learning to deliver an exceptional progressive education preparing all students to be engaged students. 
Vivian C. ’28 described the ride from The Bush School’s Seattle Campus up to Mazama, Washington, as a “long, six-hour trip.”  
“I would say to bring things to do on the car ride up,” she offered as advice.  
Despite the long journey—which through the fall and summer months is shortened to around three and  a half or four hours—the destination was well worth it for Vivian. She was one of a handful of Middle  School students who traveled to Mazama for the first time to visit the Bush Methow Campus for a  wilderness trip this past winter. For Vivian and many, this was a brand-new experience.  
“Bush Wilderness Trips are designed to present students with challenges in unfamiliar environments  where they aim to develop new skills to move through these environments proficiently,” explained  Middle School Wilderness and E-week Coordinator Erik Gearhart.  
Through Bush wilderness trips, Vivian and other Middle School students are given the opportunity to  connect with one another outside of the traditional classroom setting. Vivian, who has attended Bush  since Kindergarten, said a chance to visit the Methow Campus piqued her interest because she wanted  the opportunity to meet new people in a new environment. In line with the goals of Bush’s strategic  framework, the wilderness trips provide an elevated educational experience for the students as they  partake in a stewardship project and connect with the physical land and area around them. 
“I was really excited,” Vivian said. “It felt good to experience learning in other ways and not just in the  classroom.” 

During this past school year, three Middle School groups traveled to the Methow Campus: a fall rock climbing trip in partnership and stewardship with the United States Forest Service and two trips in  the winter. Despite the limited capacity due to COVID-19 this past year, Erik said they are seeing more  diverse groups of students applying for the Methow-based programs, not just the “outdoorsy” kids.  
“Why is this? Could it be that our Methow Campus is perceived as a bridge to our more involved  and prolonged experiential programs that travel farther nationally and internationally? Does the  fact that so many of our students have been there spread the word that it feels safe and fun and  doable? In particular, are our smaller ‘sampler’ programs more appealing to someone who isn’t ready  to specialize in a two-plus week program of more intensive focus? All of these seem to be factors,” Erik  said. “Whatever the reason, it is clear that the Methow Campus is a critical component to our K-12  experiential scope and sequence.” 
Helen Taylor Bush believed that students learned best by doing and this core value continues to  guide our educational program. Bush will continue to center experiential education by elevating  interdisciplinary teaching, authentic problem-solving, and place-based learning. Our faculty are  integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as social emotional learning into pedagogy so that  students are prepared to be active participants and problem solvers in their communities and the world. 

We will build relationships and community while prioritizing support for  ethnic/racial, LGBTQIA+, and socio-economic diversity to honor all voices
One of the cornerstones of The Bush School for over twenty years is the Lower School Buddy Program.  Founded on the core value of love and belonging, students in the Lower School are paired throughout  the academic year with a “buddy” from a different grade, spending quality time and getting to know  one another.  
“The Buddy Program provides a leadership opportunity for the older grades to connect with the  younger grades and a time for them to read or do an activity,” Lower School Director Aliya Virani  said. Kindergarten and Third Grade, First and Fourth Grade, and Second and Fifth Grade students  build a cross-grade connection that extends beyond the walls at Bush. Aliya explained this program is  something students look forward to as soon as they enter Kindergarten.  
“I really like playing fun activities with my buddy Lily like soccer and jump roping,” said Zuzu I. ’29. “I also like how the Second Grade students look up to us—it makes me feel like a leader.” In line with the  strategic framework focusing on fostering connections, the Buddy Program serves as a resource for  community members to establish relationships from when they first set foot on campus. 
“There’s not just one person who knows our students—our community is supporting our students,  our community is rooting for our students, and that includes each other,” Aliya said. “It’s not just your  classmates who know you and are excited about your growth and things you are working on, it’s the  Fourth Grade students, too. It’s really amazing to see the affinity between students in higher grades  with the younger grades that may come from similar cultural backgrounds or family backgrounds, and  when I think about a K-12 community, establishing that in our Lower School is key.”  
The Buddy Program is just one example of the commitment to building and nurturing a supportive,  inclusive environment. Numerous affinity groups for students and families, along with student-led  clubs, and other diverse learning opportunities through curriculum and extracurricular activities, are  helping to amplify student agency and voice, and promote a sense of belonging from Kindergarten  through Twelfth Grade. As Bush approaches its centennial year, we look to actively engage and  celebrate the full diversity of our community, and continue to facilitate pathways for individuals to  cultivate a closer connection to the school. 
We will optimize space, design, and place to create connectivity and flexibility for an exceptional student experience

During the first week of the Cascades program this past May, Experiential Programs Manager Kristin McInaney was sitting in on the course Interactive Theater for Social Change when she experienced the  impact of the space. 
“I was looking out the window, and it was like I was in the forest,” she said. “The wind was blowing, and  I had this experience where I took in the environment in a new way. This space is really connected to  the outside.”  
The New Upper School Building, which officially opened to the community on Monday, May 16, serves  as a new and dynamic learning environment for students. A three-story building with views of Lake  Washington and the trees of the Pacific Northwest as a backdrop to everyday learning, it was designed  with the idea to enhance the evolving needs of Bush’s experiential education programming.  
Cascades—the Upper School’s signature experiential program of three-week interdisciplinary and  immersive courses—was the first to utilize the classrooms and get a sense of what learning is like and  can be in the new environment. Upper School English Teacher Dan Osar and Director of Admissions and  Financial Aid Adam Choice co-taught the Cascade Sports and Social Justice and were able to utilize the  New Upper School Building for their class this spring.  
“In Sports and Social Justice, students used the class space for thoughtful discussions on mental health  advocacy in sports, used breakout spaces throughout the building to plan in their design groups, and  utilized the SMART Board to interview athletes and journalists about their experiences,” Dan said. 
For Dan and Adam’s class this past spring, a functional space for thoughtful discussions and collaboration  was key for creating an environment that would suit student learning best for their Cascade, and really  emphasize interdisciplinary learning.  
“The space supports collaborative, interdisciplinary learning,” Dan explained. “The mobility of the  furniture accommodates a variety of groupings and activities, allowing for multiple modes of exploration.  The surrounding walls are also versatile, with ample white boards to generate ideas, empty space to fill  with student work, and technology for active collaboration.” 
The New Upper School Building serves as an example of the school’s forward-focused vision to create  spaces that inspire dynamic learning. With centennial celebrations on the horizon, there will be a focus  on ways to continue to expand the relationship between our Seattle and Methow campuses, including a  blueprint for a Methow Semester Program. Bush is focused on contributing to a healthy and sustainable  campus and planet, while ensuring students and teachers have dynamic spaces for inquiry-based,  experiential programming. 
We will ensure a solid financial foundation for a diverse, 
engaged, and robust learning community and environment
Environmental Science student Tully E. ’23 knows from his studies that sustainability is one of the most  pressing issues of the next century. This spring, he experienced a sense of that “green” joy stepping  into the New Upper School Building, which was designed with an environmentally-focused blueprint.  
“Bush is setting a precedent for other schools and inspiring students to take care of their planet. Bush’s sustainability efforts demonstrate that our community cares about reducing the impact we  have on the environment,” Tully said. This project perfectly aligned the school’s educational program  with campus development so that students learning about critical topics such as climate change,  ecosystems, biodiversity, water quality, pollution and waste, energy sources and usage, materials usage,  and environmental justice could see how Bush is working to be a part of the solution.  
A passionate member of the Green Club in the Bush Upper School, Noah C. ’23 also sees the school’s investment in the New Upper School Building as a part of the bigger picture. They shared, “I think that it’s very important that Bush invests in green, net-zero buildings. As a student here, it does mean a lot  that Bush is considering the environment in their development choices, since climate change is such  a big issue.” 
Bush’s resource investment and allocation in the New Upper School Building reflects the school’s commitment to its mission, values, and strategic priorities. The impressive environmental certifications  achieved make Bush the first Salmon Safe school campus in the U.S., and the New Upper School  Building the first Passive-House school building in the West and one of the first Net-Zero-Energy  school buildings in the country. By prioritizing and investing in environmental sustainability—both in  the building itself and its operational features—Bush is looking toward the future while holding to values  consistent with the school’s history, ethos, and vision. 
As we move into the next century, the school will continue to cultivate and steward resources that  align with our mission and strategic priorities. This focus will ensure that the school’s investment and  allocation will not only reflect our core values, but also allow for flexibility to adapt to the school’s  evolving needs. Whether it is a new Center Campus or ensuring our compensation is competitive  with regional and national peer schools, the development of a long-term financial plan will be critical  to creating a clear path to a healthy, sustainable financial future. The future for our students is full of  promise and possibility with this commitment to building a strong financial foundation.
-By Mary Albl
The Bush School is an independent, coeducational day school located in Seattle, WA enrolling 710 students in grades K–12. The mission of The Bush School is to spark in students of diverse backgrounds and talents a passion for learning, accomplishment, and contribution to their communities.

3400 East Harrison Street, Seattle WA 98112    (206) 322-7978
The Bush School does not discriminate in matters of employment, recruitment, admissions, or administration of any of its programs on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. In addition, The Bush School does not discriminate in matters of employment on the basis of age or marital status.
© 2022  The Bush School