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Goals to Live By
Brenda Funk, Contributing Staff Writer


Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat once said, “Times change, and we must change with them.” It is this wise directive from our foundress that impels the Society of the Sacred Heart to undergo a re-visioning of the Goals and Criteria every fifteen years. Likewise, the Society asks Network Schools to engage with the Sacred Heart Commission on Goals (SHCOG) every five years to evaluate and reflect on their endeavors in integrating the Goals and Criteria throughout their schools’ culture. The process, which takes two years and is led by a Steering Committee, is in its first year at Stone Ridge and is broken into two main activities supplemented by a series of reports and responses: the Self-Study and the Visit.

The first year is dedicated to developing a comprehensive Self-Study. The SHCOG manual anchors the Self-Study in “the belief that a community of educators can renew itself by means of a reflective self-evaluation that yields fresh insights and recommitment.” Through reflective activities, constituents offer feedback and contribute to developing the Self-Study narrative. In October and December, Stone Ridge faculty and staff began this reflection by gathering together and discussing where each person believes the community has succeeded in living out the Goals and Criteria and where growth is needed. The meetings were casual and without assigned seating or pre-arranged groups to ensure an organic process and that cross-constituency was attained. Because internal self-reflection is also essential, members were also asked to consider how they are succeeding in living out the Goals and Criteria and where they might need to grow.

Throughout the year, all members of the Stone Ridge community will partake in this self-reflective process. Students from the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools each will undergo similar reflection activities in their classrooms and advisories. There are also plans to gather the ideas and opinions of alumnae, parents, and Board of Trustees.

Students Fiona and Ruth stand next to a sacred heart logo at school

Ruth Alaya-Terrazas '25 and Fiona Volanth '24


Fiona Volanth ’24, a junior and member of the Steering Committee and Network Student Advisory Committee (NSAC), finds the process insightful and rewarding. “My role in this process is to give a student point of view and think of different ways to approach other students to teach them what Sacred Heart Commission on Goals means,” Fiona says. “I relay how students feel about the Goals to Trustees and help them understand the students’ perspectives.” Her participation in this process has enlightened her about her classmates’ intentions in following the Goals. “During these advisory reflections, I see the same passion that many other girls and I have to follow more closely with the Goals of the Sacred Heart. I personally want to make an impact in our community, and seeing other girls so enthusiastic about the SHCOG process really makes me happy and hopeful to make that impact.”

As noted earlier, the Society of the Sacred Heart undergoes a re-visioning of the Goals and Criteria every 15 years, the last occurring in 2020. Therefore, this SHCOG process is unique for Stone Ridge in reflecting on newly edited Criteria. “We are reflecting on how we live these Criteria that, in some instances, have never been our Criteria,” explains Ms. Kathryn Heetderks, Director of Formation to Mission. “There are plenty of areas for growth because the Criteria weren’t articulated in the same way the last time we did this process.”

At the end of the first year, the Self-Study will be created detailing the advice and opinions of the entire Stone Ridge community. “Ultimately, the community will come up with three commendations that we want to commend ourselves for and three recommendations that we want to recommend,” explains Ms. Heetderks. “Then the Visiting Team comes in year two to listen to us more fully to make sure that what we are reporting in the Self-Study is the voice of the community.”

The Visiting Team, consisting of community members from other Network schools, will spend several days on campus next academic year listening to the voices of all community constituents. Then, they will create a report that will be shared with the School at the end of their visit and with the Commission. In the spring of the second year, Stone Ridge will create an Action Plan that will be shared with the Commission, detailing what the School wants to accomplish and how and when those actions will be completed.

Ruth Alaya-Terrazas ’25, a sophomore on the Steering Committee, has found her participation with SHCOG enlightening. Tasked with introducing the SHCOG process to Grade 1 students, she gleaned from them recommendations on how they can better take part in Goal III: a social awareness that impels to action. “Not only was I reminded of the influential role Upper School students play as school leaders, but the significance of encouraging Goal III early on, so students can build a lifetime commitment to service.” When asked what she hopes to gain from the process, Ruth mentions an essential attribute that will help her throughout her lifetime. “Through this process, I hope to become a better listener.” The SHCOG process reminds us that the Goals and Criteria are aspirational, intentional, and timeless and that each community member has an essential role in the School’s successes and works as a collective to fulfill this special mission.

“The Goals and Criteria are something we both aspire to and try to live. So we are always looking and updating as we go along. We have to adapt and be flexible. That’s part of the process.” - Ms. Heetderks