September 27, 2017
Dear Stanwich Parents and Faculty,
When I was in public elementary school, my parents enrolled me in a progressive independent school. Although I didn't want to leave my neighborhood and my friends there, my father firmly explained that the move was because my parents didn't want me "to become a 'hoodlum'." End of argument. They didn't say anything about going to an Ivy League college or preparing for a high paying job. In retrospect, I believe they wanted to preserve my moral character.
In a recent Connecticut Magazine issue, CAIS President, and former GCDS Head, Doug Lyons wrote an editorial titled Are Independent Schools Worth the Cost?, linked here if you have not already read it
. Last week several Stanwich trustees and I attended a conference and heard more from Mr. Lyons on the topic.
I was reminded that not much has changed fundamentally in the last fifty years. However, these days we are easily distracted from that appreciation in the rush of events, opinions couched as gospel, and news of dubious value.
In 2009 a survey of independent school parents concerning the relative importance of factors affecting their decision to enroll their children in independent school, despite the cost, identified a crucially important top three:
1. To allow my child to be socially, emotionally and psychologically safe,
2. Relationships with teachers,
3. Role of the school community as a counter-weight to popular culture.
Although also of high importance, the skill of the teachers and the quality of the educational program came in fourth. What teachers taught was perceived as less important than the value of the positive adult relationships that teachers provide. Relationships are the fourth "R" of schooling today. The teacher student ratio at Stanwich is 1:6 and rarely would any teacher work with more than 40 students total in any one trimester. One of the great satisfactions of teaching at Stanwich is the ability to work with students over multiple years, and have the privilege of watching them close at hand grow into virtuous and able young men and women.
Independent school teachers engage with their students as people in a way that most public school teachers cannot. Stanwich teachers and staff know you and your children and their friends and their peer relationships in a unique way. Stanwich adults help Stanwich students develop not just their IQ but also their EQ dispositions - resourcefulness, curiosity, manners, morality, independence and compassion - essential to adapting socially to the new adult twenty first century world. In the words of Mr. Lyons, "A child not well known, is not well taught."
As Head of Stanwich School, I cannot predict the future nor assure you that your children will attend Yale or work for Goldman Sachs. However, I confidently promise that they will not grow up to be 'hoodlums' (whatever that means) ...and if they do, they will be happy, well socialized ones.
Upper School parents picking up students in the lower lot should enter from the St. Agnes Driveway to avoid U-turns and dangerous cross traffic in the lot.
FALL FESTIVAL & 20th HOMECOMING CELEBRATION
This 20th Anniversary year will be marked with several celebratory events, kicking off with the Fall Family Festival on Friday, October 13 and the 20th Homecoming Celebration on Saturday, October 14. We look forward to seeing you at these events and activities where there is something for everyone.
Please join faculty and friends on Wednesday, October 4th at 6:30pm for "An Evening of IBDP Mini-Lessons" to experience the engaged, active learning in an IB class. We encourage all parents as well as students in grades 7 through 10 to attend. Please RSVP by clicking here.
To encourage your attendance and to complement your current understanding of the advantages of the International Baccalaureate Programme for Stanwich's Upper School students, I am inserting a link to an informative video titled The Value of an IB Education.
May your autumn be beautiful.