As education and assessment remain pressing issues nationally and internationally today, the perspective of Indigenous communities, including those retaining strong cultural traditions are historically excluded in broad federal conversations as planners and are moreover recipients of planning. In light of these issues, the Strategic Planning process was launched at SFIS in 2009. The process is timely, not only because of SFIS' role in advocating for educational sovereignty, but also because of ongoing physical and curricular development at the school. As older facilities have been removed and the campus rebuilt, so has the internal working of curriculum development and instruction been a topic of exploration by SFIS and tribal stakeholders intimately involved with the School.
These efforts have marked an open and transparent strategic planning process offering all SFIS stakeholders the opportunity to voice their ideas within an exploratory setting for input into a larger framework that seeks to collectively engage all levels of community in the construction of education at the school over a two-year process. Strategic Planning has included targeting diverse stakeholder populations, identifying needs via data collection, identifying strategies and ultimately, implementation of the formulated plan.
Working in collaboration with a facilitator, The Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School and SFIS Administration structured two major facets of planning—Teams and a series of Outcomes-based Sessions—rooted in Native American core values and leading to a comprehensive community-driven long-term vision for the school as a leader in Indian education initiatives and development.
In addition to cultural core values, a strategic planning formula was also used as a model via The Center for Secondary School Redesign.
Capacity-building is the most crucial component to ensure success of actualization of planning. As Director of Planning and Evaluation, Patricia Sandoval stated: "Most people fail because they have not built capacity, so this SFIS group is spending a lot time ensuring they have capacity." Building capacity is focused on three outcomes: 1) create and communicate the education strategic plan/improvement plan; 2) implement the plan; 3) monitor and adjust. Building capacity entails training stakeholders to analyze data, manage subcommittees and then build the models that are aligned with the vision of the school.
Over the course of a full academic year, Outcomes-based Sessions were held to serve key purposes in the Strategic Planning—information gathering/data collection, buy-in and capacity-building.