At the end of their journey, Park’s eighth-grade graduates demonstrate a set of unique qualities. They possess a strong and well-rounded academic foundation. They are intellectually engaged and intrinsically curious. They are creative thinkers and collaborative partners. They are advocates for equity and motivated change-makers. And, they are self-reflective leaders, well-prepared to excel in high school and beyond. These attributes are not accidental — they are the product of a ten-year experience directed by passionate educators and supported by loving parents and guardians focused on the development of the whole child.
While the essence of a Park education remains the same, the specifics have changed over our school’s 130-year-old history. As you might imagine, the graduates of 2018 – or 2028 — differ from the graduates at the end of the 19th Century. Periodically, we need to refine and reposition our outcomes paying close attention to the processes and practices of a Park education. On November 12, at our daylong professional day, the faculty and staff began the reflective and creative process of articulating today’s Portrait of a Park Graduate. When complete, our Portrait of a Graduate will define a collective vision for our students and the School. It will establish our institutional Northstar. Like the Northstar, Park’s Portrait of a Graduate will provide direction from any vantage point — from the Arts to World Languages — and from any distance — PreK through Grade VIII. Park’s Portrait of a Graduate will guide the design and implementation of curriculum and will allow us to better answer questions such as: Why this program? Why this practice? Why this priority?
The Portrait of a Graduate design process will include opportunities for the whole community — faculty, students, parents, trustees, alumni, and secondary school partners. By defining Park’s Portrait of a Graduate, we will establish the distinctive “why?” for a Park education. We will reflect on our past, examine our present, and imagine a bold future, and in doing so we will work to combine what we have always done well with what we are just beginning to understand so that our graduates are ready for a tomorrow we can’t begin to imagine today.
In the end, Park’s Portrait of a Graduate will be an articulation of the critical competencies we strive to develop in each child who graduates from The Park School whether they arrive in Pre-Kindergarten or the beginning of Grade VIII. These competencies will inform the vertical and horizontal design of our curriculum. They will direct our instructional model. And, they will drive how we think about all of our practices from student assessment to faculty professional growth.
In this edition of The Park Parent, we focus on Park’s approach to educating the whole child. You will read about the arc of adolescence, the power of public speaking, and students’ emotional health. Each of these articles speak to the importance of educating and caring for the whole child and inform our work to define Park’s Portrait of a Graduate. I hope you enjoy this edition of The Park Parent, and I look forward to your engagement in the Portrait of a Graduate work ahead for The Park School.