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It's Personal

It's Personal
Gerard Gonnella

Happy May Day! Wow, it is May already, and we have been learning in person since September. Now that’s personal, and not an easy accomplishment in a global pandemic. The only way we could achieve this incredible accomplishment is by being personal. Paying attention to details ensures that our approach is appropriate during these extraordinary times. Being personal is Wardlaw+Hartridge’s specialty. 

For as long as I can remember, and that’s over 35 years, our approach, as a school, has been personal. Here you are a name, not a number. Not just your learning is important, but your SEL (social emotional learning) is equally important. Sure, providing our students the finest educational experience is critical for their development, but providing an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding is more important now than ever. 

Small classes coupled with expertise in curriculum along with curricular vertical alignment makes a profound difference. Our tailored educational approach provides the necessary edge to help our students gain acceptance to prestigious colleges and universities. From identifying mission appropriate candidates in the admission stage through graduation, we are producing tomorrow’s Pioneering Thinkers. 

Mastering of formulas and great literary works from a myriad of global writers is the norm and not the exception here. Encouraging our students to question and critically think about their place in our society and how they can create change starts on the very first day as a student here. Empowering students to not just follow along like good little listeners but to truly question why, is one of the most important skills they will take away from their W+H experience. 

Cultural competence is more than just studying a culture. Learning to live in someone’s home in Guatemala on one of our service-learning trips in our Global Scholars Program is one important life skill, not just an educational skill. Being able to write about these experiences will take them effectively from the classroom to the board room, where it really counts. Building relationships along the way is equally important. Take Pat Fielder, our librarian, who will retire this year after 35 years of service. The personal connections she has cemented with each student she helped when they were doing their research for their Capstone project or helping them on their deep dive of a particular topic creates the institutional bond that is the hallmark of an independent school experience. Mrs. Fielder has deep rooted relationships and can recall on demand many projects she helped her students with when they return to campus to say hello during college break or at our Fall Fair and Alumni Homecoming weekend.

Education, research skills and critical thinking are all important foundational skills but so is learning to be kind – being empathetic. I was awestruck just the other day when using the Lower School (Grades PreK(3) – 5) stairwell and coming across a largely letter statement, “In a world where you can be anything be kind.” It’s these types of reminders that I value as a parent of three and as an educator. The shared values, the common beliefs on how to treat and approach one another, are most important today. If you value small classes, personalized attention, leadership opportunities on and off the athletic fields, having your child start a club or perform on our off-Broadway quality theatre, then W+H is worth your consideration. Joining our community creates a lifetime of personal connections with not only peers and faculty but also an association with a global alumni network who share commonly held values. Our longstanding international program has greatly added to the overall experience of our classes and has enriched our experiences beyond our imagination. 

I encourage you to take the next move and inquire about our school – you won’t be disappointed. I look forward to connecting with you to share how your child can join this dynamic school community. 

Be well. Stay safe.

Gerard Gonnella, 

Director of Admission and Financial Aid

Director of International Student Program