Last year, the Day School community engaged in discussion regarding the skills our graduates need to be successful in the 21st Century. Collaboration, grit, creativity, and critical thinking, among other “soft skills”, came up repeatedly, as did a consensus that in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing global society, “what matters most today is what you can do with what you know, rather than how much you know” (Tony Wagner). These conversations launched a Task Force of parents, students, faculty, administrators, and Board of Trustees members to articulate the attributes we feel are most important so we can align the educational experience to focus on and intentionally develop them. The result is what we call the Portrait of a Graduate – a set of skills including entrepreneurial learner, resilience, globally minded, and balanced.
With the Portrait of a Graduate complete, the committee’s work has shifted to celebrating everything at Day School that enables these skills (for example: chess builds resilience; our Junior Pre-K through Grade 12 Spanish language and culture curriculum develops global mindedness, etc.), enhancing programs that are important in the development of skills, and evaluating systems and priorities to ensure alignment toward the Portrait of a Graduate.
While the faculty has enthusiastically embraced Day School’s vision as the preeminent real world, forward thinking program in the region, Soi Powell, Primary School Science Teacher, is especially passionate about the Portrait of a Graduate: “My personal dream is that some of my students will grow up and work on the International Space Station and fly missions to Mars,” she beams. “They will need more than an advanced degree in science or engineering to survive in space. Astronauts must collaborate with their team in very tight quarters. They need fine motor skills to make emergency repairs. They have to be resilient and focused. One small mistake can do a lot of damage. These are the exact skills that we teach our students at Day School.”