Chesapeake Montessori School

Chesapeake Montessori School

CONSULTING AREA: Board governance training & Strategic planning

Capacity Partners provided insightful guidance that drew on extensive experience working with schools — but that also reflected a clear understanding of our school’s unique strengths and challenges.

– Joanna Tobin, Board of Trustees, Chesapeake Montessori School


It was time for Chesapeake Montessori School in Annapolis, Maryland, to develop a new five-year strategic plan, and the Board of Trustees needed a consultant to provide expert guidance and assistance. They selected Capacity Partners because of Mary Robinson’s experience with other small schools.

Key Challenges

The Board of Trustees at CMS is comprised of parent volunteers. As the Board approached the strategic planning process, they brought varying levels of experience with governance and planning to the table – and at the time, several were first-time Board members. They needed a “third voice”: an expert who could meet them where they were, individually and as a group, and guide them through the planning process and several learning curves.

Services Provided

We worked closely with CMS over a two-year period. To lay the groundwork for a successful strategic planning process, we started by conducting a training session for the Board that provided an overview of governance, including the roles of the Board, individual trustee and head of school; effective decision-making processes; committee work and optimal structure; and communication intra-Board and between Board and parents. Several months later, Mary Robinson facilitated a full-day long-range planning retreat for the Board and representative staff and then advised the school’s leadership to bring together planning groups for different aspects of the plan. Toward the end of the planning process, she led a second Board training focused on development, including strategies for growing annual giving.


Capacity Partner training sessions in governance and fundraising positioned the Board to create a strong blueprint for the future and helped them develop tools and techniques to execute that plan. In 2012, as the school celebrated its 35th anniversary, the Board completed a new five-year strategic plan, which is now being implemented. The school’s adolescent program is well on its way, and CMS is reaching out in concrete ways to grow the impact of the school and the Montessori philosophy on the broader community.