Strategic Plan

Our Mission:

Our Lady of the Wayside School is dedicated to enriching our students’ minds, fostering a deep and meaningful faith in each child, and expanding their talents.

We encourage each student to recognize, develop, and share his or her God-given talents and gifts. Each student is taught to understand and live the Gospel message of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History:

Our Lady of the Wayside was founded in 1952. The first Mass was held in a gymnasium of South Middle School while the Parish and School were being built. Construction on the school building began on May 24, 1953, the Feast of Our Lady of the Wayside. In September 1954, the first school bell rang and 300 first through eighth grade children marched into seven brand new school rooms. They were taught by four Dominican Sisters and seven lay teachers. On June 14, 1955, twenty-four students became the first graduates of Our Lady of the Wayside School. Over the next 15 years, the school and church grew to the buildings and campus that we have today.

Who We Are Today:

Our Lady of the Wayside School is a 2015 and 1997 National Blue Ribbon School – only about 10% of National Blue Ribbon schools have earned this distinct recognition more than once. OLW School is an educational ministry of Our Lady of the Wayside Parish; we educate students in the Arlington Heights and surrounding communities such as Mount Prospect, Palatine and Rolling Meadows. We prepare students to meet the challenges of our world and lay the groundwork to develop into our future leaders. Through the balanced literacy program, students are immersed in the development of language skills both as readers and writers. The middle school consistently wins its division in district science fair and sends dozens of projects to state annually. Faith development is an extremely important part of education at OLW School. The curriculum is enriched with religion classes and a weekly class on Catholic virtues as the basis for character development. Our school’s buddy program connects our youngest children with older students who model behavior and provide mentorship and an immediate connection to the school. Students participate in all-school and grade specific service projects continually throughout the year.

The Strategic Plan:

During the 2015-16 school year, the School Advisory Board developed a new strategic plan for OLW School this is focused on the 2017-21 timeframe. The previous plan developed in 2010-11 had served our school well, but was reaching the end of useful life. SAB started with a focus on the strategic planning areas of Development, Enrollment & Marketing, Financial Management, and Facilities Management – identified by the Office of Catholic Schools as key components in strategic planning for an archdiocesan school. There developed strong interest and support to include the goals of the School Administration, Family & School Association, and OLW Boosters into the strategic plan. The result is a very comprehensive strategic plan developed with strong collaboration across the school and parish councils.

Throughout the 2015-16 school year the seven Focus Area teams — Academics, Athletics, Development, Enrollment & Marketing, Facilities Management, Financial Management, FSA — met to identify long-term risks, weaknesses, opportunities, strengths, and aspirational ideas. The Focus Area teams drafted practical goals that could be accomplished in the 2017-21 timeframe and then identified an initial set of action plans for each of the goals.
Strategic Plan Summary

OLW School has a strong academic and faith-based foundation with a supportive parish, strong leadership, vibrant students, dedicated teachers, engaged parents, and tireless volunteers. A primary strategy that emerged from the process is to continue investing in and building upon the school’s strong foundation; this includes investment in the academic curriculum, financial base, functional capabilities, technology and facilities. A secondary strategy that emerged is to better understand and engage the school’s key customer – the parents. Changes in the programs and activities offered are necessary to balance the interest of today’s parents with volunteer capacity and funding. Having highly engaged and satisfied parents is important to the long-term viability of the school.


Strategic Plan Execution in 2016-17

The 2015 National Blue Ribbon award acknowledged and recognized the strength of the school’s foundation and performance. There is no doubt that we owe a debt of gratitude to the leaders and stewards who built OLW School’s current foundation. Looking forward, we want to provide the next generation of school families with an even stronger foundation. We now have a strategic plan with achievable goals that are clearly defined to deliver on that strategy.


Each focus area has a responsibility to provide an update twice a year on their goals and actions during an open SAB meeting. This ensures that the Strategic Plan is active and dynamic and this process allows School Advisory Board members and visitors a chance to ask questions and offer comment in all focus areas.

Going forward, we intend to implement an annual review of the current strategic plan and extend its life one year at a time, adding and retiring goals on a rolling basis. There will be a process to extend the plan through the 2021-22 school year; we will also identify and refine action plans for the 2017-19 school years.