Charting Our Course: Strategic Priorities 2017-2021


Dear Academy Community:

As a non-profit independent school, we are charged with the responsibility of setting our own direction. Toward that end, our Board of Trustees has led our community in a strategic planning process, the result of which is Charting Our Course: Academy at the Lakes 2017-2021.

In setting the strategic direction for our school over the next five years, the board determined that we will focus on growth in the following areas: Program, Community, Facilities, and Financial Strength. It adopted four Commitments and then set out to craft a plan that brings those commitments to life.

Charting Our Course provides great direction and guidance for our way forward that both retains and enhances our unique school culture. The complete plan includes direction for the board and school. This document describes each commitment, the intent behind each commitment, and the action steps that will bring each commitment to life.

Through our strategic plan, we will prepare ourselves and our students to meet the challenges of the future.



Mark Heller
Head of School


John Faith
Chair, Board of Trustees, 2013-17





Academy at the Lakes is a learning community of shared values dedicated to the success of each individual at school, in the community, and in the world. We celebrate the love of learning and the joy in the journey.


To be and be known as Tampa Bay’s choice for educational and personal discovery.


  • Balance: We embrace the joy in the journey, which consists of experiences that balance academics, fine arts, athletics, and co-curricular activities.
  • Courage: We foster personal responsibility, empathy, and resilience.
  • Distinction: We apply high standards of quality, relevance, and accountability to all we do.
  • Inclusion: We are a caring and compassionate community composed of many different beliefs and traditions seeking points of unity in common experiences.
  • Integrity: We believe in the power of heads to know the good, hearts to love the good, and hands to do the good.
  • Stewardship: We care for each other and our school, serve our communities, and responsibly engage with the world – today and tomorrow.

John Faith, Chair
Brent Smith, Vice Chair
Jeffrey Dobish, Treasurer
Cynthia Martin, Secretary

Kristin Bain
Andrea Doromal
Jim Emerick
Gary Englund
Tommy Giglio ’05
Santosh Govindaraju
Scott Greene
Jessica Johnson
Betsy Joyce
Mary McCormick, Ex-officio, Emerita
Patrick Pesch
Michael Riley
Eric Schwab
Paul Tuten
Marguerite LaPunzina Wells

Mark Heller, Head of School, Ex-officio
Dorie Burnham, Business Manager
Elizabeth Reynolds Hult, Director of Development
Karen Sooklal, Secretary to the Board

Kristin Bain
Jeffrey Dobish
John Faith
Mark Heller
Beth Hult
Jessica Johnson
Cynthia Martin
Patrick Pesch
Penny Rogers
Brent Smith
Paul Tuten
Marguerite LaPunzina Wells

Commitment 1: Passion and Purpose

Academy at the Lakes will invest in and support relevant programs that build and promote a passion for learning. The school will attract, develop, and retain faculty who inspire, challenge, and empower all students to lives of purpose and fulfillment.

Action Steps:

  • Spark and nurture a passion for learning through curricular, co-curricular, and cultural programming
    • Specific initiatives have been developed in the following areas: writing, public speaking, technological skill, internships/externships, entrepreneurship, environmental science, creative experiences, citizenship/civics, economics, critical reading, and service
  • Promote physical and emotional wellness
  • Commit to a more robust professional development program
  • Support compensation as a budget priority


Commitment 2: Inclusion and Community

Built on relationships, Academy at the Lakes will continue to create an environment that maximizes each student’s engagement and every family’s experience.

Action Steps:

  • Create and execute a plan to celebrate the school’s 25th Anniversary that will inspire the Academy community to become more engaged with the school
  • Deliver effective and efficient communication throughout the Academy community
  • Create meaningful opportunities for parent engagement within the school community
  • Develop a robust alumni program
  • Enhance Academy’s brand



Commitment 3: A Place to Grow

Academy at the Lakes will provide distinctive spaces that energize and inspire, that embrace and respect nature, foster flexibility, and promote creativity and community.

Action Steps:

  • Create a Master Plan that will map out Academy in the mid- to long-term future and address the questions of school size and the future of the Wendlek and McCormick campuses
  • Concurrent with Master Plan work, identify and implement necessary immediate- to mid-term facility projects for the Wendlek and McCormick campuses that will address program needs and provide a bridge until the Master Plan is executed
  • Identify and/or respond to opportunities that will enhance the Master Plan and/or are in the best interests of the school
  • Concurrent with Master Plan work, commence development of the New Academy Campus



Commitment 4: Advancing the Mission

Academy at the Lakes will develop and implement financial strategies that identify and steward resources to achieve the school’s goals according to the Mission and Core Values.

Action Steps:

  • Develop a mid/long term financial model and a mid/long term financial plan incorporating all of the assumptions set during strategic plan process
  • Optimize finance options to execute long-range strategic financial plan
  • Explore desirability and feasibility of ancillary revenue streams
  • Create financial capability for the physical growth and development of the Academy campuses
  • Improve the school-wide culture of giving
  • Pursue aligned enrollment growth in all divisions