Strategic Plan


In 2019, the RSD community came together to imagine and plan for the future.  Faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and community members participated in surveys, focus groups, and workshops to identify RSD's strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth.  Just as a five-year strategic plan was about to be rolled out, a global pandemic hit, and we needed to adjust our plans and priorities to serve and protect our students, families, and staff.  While some strategic initiatives identified in 2019 were put on hold, many were developed and advanced.  In Spring 2022, we resumed work on the strategic plan with consultants from the University of Rochester and stakeholders to take stock of the progress made, look at new issues that have emerged or been amplified by the pandemic, and adjust to the current landscape of education and needs of the RSD community.  
With the 2022-23 school year under way, we've rolled up our sleeves to implement the plan.  Below are the tasks outlined in the plan, as well as a general timeline for when we will initiate work on the tasks.  We are also pleased to share Year 1 highlights as they are evolving and plan to report annually.  It is important to remember that this is a five-year plan that we will continue to review and update to meet the needs of our students, staff, families and the wider RSD community.


RSD, a leader in creating a vibrant community of lifelong learners – one student, one family, one success at a time.


Rochester School for the Deaf provides exemplary opportunities in a bilingual environment to meet students’ unique learning. Together, as a community, RSD challenges and prepares students for participation in the ever-changing world by:
  • creating an environment that empowers academic achievement, enables communication, and enriches social engagement;
  • using both proven and innovative programming along with current technologies; and
  • nurturing students in mind, body, and spiritedness culminating in self-awareness, cultural identity and pride.

Strategic Priorities

Internal and External Communication - Improve communication among all stakeholders, including administrators, staff, students, families, alumni, and the community.
  • Create expectation guidelines for all forms of communication within RSD (Year 1)
  • Share communication expectations between key stakeholders (Year 1)
  • Develop a means of ensuring accountability for the expectation guidelines (Year 1)
  • Review, revise, and reshare guidelines (in subsequent years) (Years 2-5)
  • Co-create staff communication norms through workshops and community conversations (workshops held November 2022 and February 2023; survey February 2023)
  • Continue regular family communication, including monthly newsletters and weekly emails for ECC and Westervelt, copying in staff (ongoing)
  • Continue weekly emails for Westervelt staff from the principal and copy staff in on family communication (ongoing)
  • Survey families to better understand communication needs and perceptions and use the information to inform what and how we engage with families (survey sent January 20test23, results under review)
  • Establish schedule and norms and professional development for classroom, teacher, specials, and support services  communications with families (under development)
  • Work with directors to establish accountability standards (anticipate spring 2023)
  • Add staff photos and contact information on the web (completed September 2022)
  • Add school leadership bios and responsibilities on the web and in the K12 newsletter (in process)
  • Create a strategic plan page on the website, update highlights quarterly, and report annually (in process)
Hiring/mentoring – Attract and retain quality employees.
  • Review, analyze, and refine system-wide hiring processes (Initiate Year 1)
  • Enhance recruitment efforts to reach/increase a diverse pool of candidates (Initiate Year 1)
  • Create and maintain an effective mentoring program for all new employees that helps them gain an understanding of our community, policies, roles, and procedures. (Initiate Year 1)
  • Review, analyze, and implement orientation for all employees (Initiate Year 2)
  • Ensure that there is a system of accountability, team building, and recognition aligned with standards, expectations, and policy. (Initiate Year 2)
  • All new teachers and service provider professionals assigned a mentor (ongoing)
  • Expand teacher mentoring program to include second-year teachers and service provider professionals (implemented September 2022)
  • Create videos for key procedures and policies so all staff receive the same information and mid-year hires have the appropriate information at orientation (implemented September 2022, to be expanded next year)
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand the reasons people leave RSD (ongoing)
  • Look for solutions to better attract candidates to hard-to-fill positions (ongoing)
  • Advocate with 4201 schools for additional support for salaries (ongoing)

FamiliesEnsure all families feel welcome, included, and empowered in the RSD community.
  • Identify and develop areas where families need and want support, including ASL (Initiate Year 1)
  • Develop a database of Rochester community resources to support families (Initiate Year 2)
  • three students dressed as menorah candles for holiday playCreate a welcoming atmosphere at the Fall Family Open House (September 2022) and Family Festival (May 2023), and expand family engagement offerings (ECC Halloween Parade, ECC Holidays Around the World, elementary play "Rudy's Adventures") (ongoing)
  • Survey families about what they want and need in terms of programming and communication (survey sent January 2023, results under review)
  • Work collaboratively with the PSA to meet family needs and help them feel welcome (ongoing)
  • Begin offering programming as indicated by the needs assessment, including ASL workshops in the ECC (ongoing), PBIS workshops (ECC October 2022 and anticipate April 2023), curriculum conversations (ECC fall, K12 winter), workshop on healthy relationships and sexual health (February 2023), managing conflict, etc.
  • Collaborate with PSA on winter and spring family events on campus and in the community (ongoing)
External Partnerships – Seek and establish partnerships with selected area businesses and colleges to support student success and experiences. (Initiate Year 2)
  • teachers and students doing ASL storytime at Seneca Park ZooExplore and implement new partnerships and collaborations with various organizations, including Foodlink, Seneca Park Zoo, Rochester Museum and Science Center, The Strong, Public Market, UR, NTID, etc. (ongoing)
  • Expand and support academic partnerships with local universities, RIT/NTID STEM offerings, RIT/NTID Youth Programs, UR Wilmot Cancer Center internships
  • Explore workforce development opportunities (Urban Ecologists, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Foodlink) (ongoing)
  • Continue monthly ASL storytime at Irondequoit Library for families and the community (ongoing)
  • Document Year 1 partnerships on the web and in the report (planned)
Alumni – Expand partnerships with RSD alums to support student success and experiences.
  • Develop a plan to track RSD alumni (Initiate Year 1)
  • Review and update alumni records/database (Initiate Year 2)
  • Create new areas of partnership with RSD alumni (Initiate Year 3)
  • Begin collaborating on RSD's 150th Anniversary (ongoing)
  • Implement a passive alumni contact system (spring 2023)
4201 and Other Deaf Schools – Strengthen partnerships with other Deaf schools to support student academic success and enrollment.
  • Develop and initiate new areas for shared advocacy and lobbying for 4201 partnerships and initiate (Initiate Year 3)
  • Ongoing funding advocacy for school operations, reserve fund, and staff salaries (ongoing)
School Districts and BOCES – Strengthen relationships with home school districts’ stakeholders to support student success and enrollment.
  • Develop and implement a communication plan and resources for engaging home school districts. (Initiate Year 2)
  • Develop and implement a plan for requesting and processing test scores from home districts annually (Initiate Year 2)
  • Identify possible mentor schools to exchange best practice ideas to enhance student achievement (Initiate Year 3)
  • Hold an Early Intervention Open House for early intervention and early childhood school partners (offered September 2022)
  • Engage with other early intervention and preschool programs through ECC staff visits (ongoing).
  • Encourage new and current school district partners to visit RSD (ongoing).
  • Update and expand the website Attend/Visit section to be more inviting and informative anticipate spring 2023)
Administration – Enhance the roles of the school leaders.
  • Review the organizational chart, including job responsibilities, to capitalize on the talent of all leaders to ensure student and teacher success. (Initiate Year 1)
  • Provide appropriate professional development to ensure leaders’ success. (Initiate Year 1)
  • Mentoring of school leaders by a seasoned school leader through the UR, working with individuals and on group collaboration (ongoing)
  • Mentoring and leadership support for the principal through the CEASD Leadership Academy (attended November 2022) and working with a mentor from the Minnesota School for the Deaf for two years (ongoing)
ASL Policy – Enforce ASL communication policy school-wide.
  • Review the current ASL policy to establish consistent standards aligned with the current needs of RSD students (Initiate Year 1)
  • Develop and implement a new professional learning program for all employees to enhance ASL fluency (Initiate Year 2)
  • Include ASL expectations in the communications norms for staff (winter 2023).
Board of Directors – Enhance the engagement of the Board of Directors in the school community. 
  • Ensure that the roles and responsibilities of Board members are clearly articulated (Initiate Year 1)
  • Develop and implement an appropriate Board orientation program (Initiate Year 1)
  • Ensure that the school community is familiar with members of the board and their responsibilities (Initiate Year 2)
  • Add Board member photos on the website, as well as contact information for the Board (completed summer 2022)
  • Highlight Board responsibilities on the web, as well as the nature of RSD as a private state-supported 4201 school (drafted, under review)
  • Create Board orientation (invited ALL Board members to orientation retreat February 2023; 15 attended)
  • Connect with the Student Body Government to discuss the role of the Board at RSD (VP Tim Albert visits February 2023 and anticipates March 2023)
Student Voice – Provide students with the opportunity for active participation in their school and residential environment.
  • Ensure student representation on decision-making committees (Initiate Year 1)
  • Encourage and track participation of middle and high school students in their CSE meetings (80% of middle school and high school students) (ongoing)
  • Engage students in planning the next Travel Abroad Trip, where they advocate for more adventurous alternatives (ongoing)
  • Empower Student Body Government to formalize bylaws and further advocate for student priorities (ongoing)
Emotional /Behavior Support for Students – Provide supports to ensure the physical and social/emotional well-being of all students.
  • Update and expand the technology for creative outlets (Initiate Year 2)
  • Explore the potential of developing an after-school program at RSD (Initiate Year 4)
  • Resume K-5 after-school program (implemented Fall 2022)
  • Implement PBIS throughout the school tailored to each age group, including ZOR lessons biweekly for all older preschool, elementary, and middle school classes and various workshops for middle and high school students (ongoing)
  • Celebrate student accomplishments as a group and individual behavior through bi–weekly CAT Rallies in the ECC and weekly Friday Morning Meetings in the elementary school. (ongoing)
  • Contract with Jooux, a Deaf sexual wellness center, to expand our sexual health education for our students with various topics relevant to needs (identity, boundaries, consent, body images, puberty, internet safety), with a workshop for families (February 2023), training for staff (February 2023), and workshops for our students (ongoing until March/April)
  • Implement schoolwide bullying prevention by giving students the tools (STOP, WALK, TALK) to stop bullying through the blending of PBIS, explicit instruction, and a redefinition of the bullying construct with a restorative approach (ongoing)
    students on stage sitting in circle
  • Utilize half curriculum afternoons to incorporate workshops, guest speakers, and performances of various backgrounds to promote inclusivity and diversity (Cassie Simmons, Sunshine 2.0), and social-emotional skills to encourage a positive school environment (Healthy Relationship Groups by deaf advocate, Brittany Ellenbecker of Deaf IGNITE through Willow, team building activities, and review of ZOR/STOP, WALK, TALK) (ongoing)
Staff Awareness – Better staff awareness when dealing with emotional/behavioral students.
  • Ensure students are aware of the code of conduct annually, including consequences for their actions (Initiate Year 1)
  • Train all staff (dorm and academic staff) with coping strategies to better deal with students needing behavioral/emotional support (Initiate Year 2)
  • Ensure support for students new to RSD (Initiate Year 3)
  • Review code of conduct with students (September 2022)
  • Utilize Incident Reports to follow up with students, families, and staff regarding inappropriate behaviors
  • Offer monthly PBIS meetings to review and practice positive behaviors
  • Bi-weekly meetings with the Mental Health Team for students who demonstrate challenging behaviors or social-emotional needs
  • Train ECC and kindergarten faculty and school counselor on how to implement ZOR (winter 2023)
  • Provide elementary and middle school teachers with ZOR resources to use in their classrooms (Winter 2023)
  • Conduct weekly meetings of the mental health team to discuss the academic and social-emotional needs of students for students who demonstrate challenging behaviors or social-emotional needs (ongoing)
Curriculum – Align curriculum and instruction to support student needs.
  • Define procedures and criteria for adopting, piloting, writing, and evaluating curriculum (Initiate Year 1)
  • Create K-12 benchmarks in each subject area (Initiate Year 2)
  • Examine current academic offerings in comparison to other schools and develop a plan to enhance college and career readiness for all students (Initiate Year 2)
  • Provide all students with opportunities within and/or outside of school so that they may explore and be better prepared for college or career (Initiate Year 3)
  • Engage curriculum consultant to guide activities (ongoing 2022-23)
  • Complete curriculum audit to document curriculum in use and materials available; establish priorities (fall 2022)students reading
  • Research and implement an English language literacy curriculum K-5 (ongoing professional development and implementation of Reading Milestones, Bedrock Literacy Curriculum, Bedrock Grammar, and Fingerspelling Our Way staggered over course of the 2022-23 school year) 
  • Revise K-5 report cards to better reflect student achievement and progress (fall 2022)
  • Develop cohesive milestones for early learners in the ECC (winter 2023)
  • Provide learning opportunities for teachers at all levels to ensure that learning environments and curricula support diversity, equity, and inclusion commitment and that all students feel welcome and included (ongoing)
Data-Informed Instruction – Utilize data effectively to inform instruction and report achievement.
  • Adopt and implement data analysis protocols and procedures to enhance student learning (Initiate Year 2)
  • Utilize data to implement instructional support services to increase student grade level achievement (Initiate Year 2)
  • Use data analysis process to adjust curriculum, lesson plans, and classroom instruction and improve student achievement (Initiate Year 3)
  • Improved oversight of MAPs testing to ensure consistency (ongoing)
  • Train staff to provide ECC VCSL Assessment three times a year, with results used to inform students’ individual language plan (ongoing)
Professional Development – Create and implement professional development that maximizes and supports student growth and meets the needs of all school employees.
  • Create a professional development plan that focuses on multiple methods of delivery, and is aligned with staff needs (Initiate Year 1)
  • Create a culture throughout RSD employees that encourage and values all forms of professional development (Initiate Year 4)
  • Set up new curriculum work at Superintendent's Conference Day, working with a consultant, reviewing research, and planning for the year ahead (October 2022)
  • Provide professional development to support curriculum mapping, writing, and implementation, with weekly release time for shared planning and learning (began December 2022)
  • Expand teacher mentoring program to include second-year teachers, with monthly workshops on different topics (implemented September 2022)
  • ECC staff training on bilingual education with a consultant related to language planning (ongoing)
Student Achievement and SupportProvide programming and supports to ensure the success of all students.
  • Provide a rich ASL and English bilingual program for all students (Initiate Year 1)
  • Provide a continuum of educational support services aligned with Special Education law, SED requirement, to meet the needs of students (Initiate Year 2)
  • Ensure all students achieve, at minimum, a local diploma (Initiate Year 4)
  • Work with a bilingual consultant to support ECC staff to implement bilingual strategies specifically for early language learners (ongoing)
  • Implement a comprehensive literacy program (Bedrock, FOW, and Reading Milestones) to support students' English language and literacy development (ongoing)

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

RSD will create a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion statement and bake it into the way we implement this strategic plan, our work as a staff, and our teaching and learning with students.
  • Incorporate new knowledge of different cultures and ways of life through the K12 school play (Rudy's Adventures Around the World) and ECC Holidays Around the World unit and event), bulletin boards (display of various Deaf Hispanic/Latinx Instagram influencers on HS floor during Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, 3rd- and 5th-grade classes of Black Deaf people), and experiences (learning about Black ASL, making menorah/donghzi lanterns) (ongoing)
  • Offer training that supports RSD diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, including ECC staff members attending conferences and providing training to the rest of the ECC staff in regard to anti-bias education, appropriate literature, and lesson planning.
  • Two ECC teachers will lead a training with staff on adopting a new curriculum called Literacy Justice for All. 
  • Research and hire a new DEI consultant group (2023) to conduct a climate assessment with RSD staff, as well as workshops for the leadership team.