From our founding, Winchester Thurston School was established to stand out in the crowd. Not content with the educational opportunities that were available to girls and young women at the time, Alice Maude Thurston and Mary A. Graham Mitchell established schools that would challenge the norm in the educational landscape. And while we have come a long way since that time, one thing remains the same: WT’s commitment to being the leaders in education, setting the standard others want to emulate.
Today, WT’s innovative spirit and willingness to accept challenges head-on is what has propelled us successfully and strategically through the pandemic. We embrace many of the tenets of progressive education as laid out by renowned educator and philosopher John Dewey, the founder of the acclaimed University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Dewey believed that students were at the center of the classroom and that learning needed to be done in context and experience. No more would the teacher stand at the front expecting students to memorize the lecture, word for word. Instead, teachers would guide students through experiences that required students to create meaning and reflect on how it could apply in a multitude of situations. According to Dewey, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” This is why our signature program, City as Our Campussm, thrives at WT. These experiences serve as a pathway to nurture students’ curiosity, guiding them to tap into undiscovered passions and internal motivators that drive them to want to learn more. Our students have choice and voice in what they learn and how they demonstrate it. That is progressive education.
This issue of Thistletalk is dedicated to sharing some of the ways progressive education plays out today—from curriculum development, to interdisciplinary courses, to a thoughtful transition into deeply rigorous coursework that will far exceed the limitations of the standardized curriculum that Advanced Placement requires.
And with an approach that keeps students at the center of our work, we know that students will need WT to provide a coordinated effort in student support services. We understand that the requirements needed to keep our community physically healthy during the pandemic, including physical distancing, have also meant that we must attend to their social-emotional needs in new ways. With our newly hired administrators in student support services and diversity, equity, inclusion, and wellness, we are taking a comprehensive approach to making sure that all students have a sense of belonging at WT.
Thank you for your support of our “dear old WT.” Without it, none of this would be possible. I am excited to continue our journey as we meet the challenges of today while preparing our students for the future.