One of the many unique qualities about Wood Acres is our approach of looking what our eldest students should know, see, say, and do and then backward map it to our youngest students. It is a strong belief of our Head of School, Judy Thigpen, and one that has resonated with me throughout my tenure at WA.
Before I fully transitioned into a leadership role, I knew there was something I needed to accomplish first. I needed to teach in our Upper School. All of my prior teaching experience was with children in grades K-5, and my daughter at the time was in our Early School. I felt confident about what Early and Grammar School students should know, say, and do, but that understanding wasn’t there for me when thinking about an older student. How could I possibly lead without an understanding of our oldest students and program?
Like all other ages and stages of a child’s development, it was easy for me to fall in love with our tweens and teens! They were independent, respectful, kind, intelligent, motivated, and capable students. All of their years at Wood Acres among passionate and caring teachers, involved parents, and a supportive yet rigorous school environment prepared them for this pivotal moment. They fully applied their learning and enjoyed it, developed a strong sense of self, and added to our community in so many meaningful ways. It was a joy to be in their company and I can say even in my current role, it still is. They are comfortable to share a thought, an opinion, an idea, and I couldn’t be more honored to be that person. They keep me grounded and focused on what is important.
With this clarity, I look at our younger students in new and different ways. I see the twinkle in their eyes and wonder in their play and can picture their more grownup self. I see interests and strengths and how that will help grow a solid foundation both academically and emotionally. I work with teachers and parents about how to encourage developmentally appropriate high expectations no matter the age of a student. I am better equipped to instill confidence to our families, teachers, and our students that through this thoughtful journey with a stay the course approach, our students will indeed soar when it comes time to graduate.