Admission Foreword

Welcome to Admission Foreword - a blog about trends in education by Gerard Gonnella '89, Director of Admission and Financial Aid.


Cultivating Character and Conduct

Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” William Penn

Happy New Year.

As a working parent, I know firsthand that nagging fear that I am not going to be there when my child faces a big moral dilemma. While in my heart, I believe our family has equipped our children with the skills, characteristics, and attributes to inform the right decision, my mind reflects on all those moments I haven’t witnessed that may have (mis)shaped their young and still forming values.

It’s a little heavy, I know.

Today, as more and more of us work, we can’t help but wonder, and maybe worry, who is modeling behaviors for our kids when we aren’t there. In society’s well-documented and never-ending bad news cycle, social media blizzard, and omni-present and accessible Internet, our sons and daughters are bombarded with ideas and pseudo-ideals.

Many of us look for help from our own parents (thanks, Grandma!), from siblings, from nannies (with their shelf life of four years before they go to college), and from our child’s school. 

It does take a village, or small city, when you are driving one child to dance, one to gymnastics, and another to her enrichment classes. Oh - did I mention sometimes driving their friends, too? Egads.

With respect to grandmothers everywhere, I do believe your child’s school environment is fundamental. In fact, I believe it makes an enormous difference. Yes, it sounds self-serving given my own job, but hear me out. You must choose a school wisely.

A school’s culture and curriculum should directly and unwaveringly align with your family’s values. Your child’s teachers should uphold your own approach to discipline and model what it means to be a compassionate and thoughtful adult. While we strongly encourage diversity in every form, the other families in your school should be there because they love their children and they want them to grow and succeed. If all the other parents in your school are there because they want their child to become a professional athlete or because they want them to graduate from Harvard Law School – and this is a Kindergarten – you may be in the wrong school. 

Many independent school admission offices are accepting the EMA (Enrollment Management Association) Character Skills Snapshot assessment test to evaluate the quality of student they are enrolling into their communities. EMA explains, “The Character Skills Snapshot is an online assessment tool that provides schools with a holistic view of your child. It measures your child’s own view of his or her character skill development and is meant to complement more traditional cognitive assessments such as the SSAT. The Character Skills Snapshot gives admission teams richer information and illuminates areas where their schools can help your child grow, thrive and shine.”

Here at Wardlaw+Hartridge, we have an evidence-based record of intentionally cultivating a student’s morals and ethics inside and outside our classrooms. I think about our Middle School, led by Dr. Corinna Crafton, and their championing of Mission Skills. Her students, faculty and families are inspired daily about ethical and moral behaviors by reading key characteristics and attributes like Resilience, Empathy, and Citizenship headlined and highlighted in the Middle School’s hallways and stairwells. It’s awesome. 

Every teacher and staff member is here to help you raise your child into the best possible version of themselves. In addition to developing as a student, your son or daughter will continue to learn right from wrong, and to not blindly follow the herd, as referenced by our friend William Penn. Please know that when your child walks into our buildings at W+H, they are not just coming to school – in many ways, they are coming home.

If you remember anything from today’s blog entry, please remember this: the choice of your child’s school matters far beyond median SAT scores, college matriculation records, and state championships. As much as you consider the type of student they will become, please remember to consider the type of human being they will become, too. 

I invite you to our campus to learn more about what makes W+H a wonderful environment. I’m pleased to announce reduced tuition fees for our Early Childhood program and hope you will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

Contact the Admission Office to schedule your tour. We look forward to meeting your family.

Posted by ggonnella on Wednesday January, 23, 2019 at 08:28AM


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