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    Parents experience art class by making collages at Whole School Whole Child Parents' Night on October 2.

Head’s Lines: What Does it Mean to Educate the Whole Child?

in Fall 2019 by

In the first week of October, The Park School hosted its very first Whole Child, Whole School evening celebrating the fantastic teaching and learning taking place in art, music, physical education, growth education, Lower Division science, drama, and the Library. The evening was highly interactive, giving parents with children in grades PreK-8 hands-on experience with each discipline. Rooms across the building were bursting at the seams with parents playing instruments, creating art, learning to juggle, remembering how to skip, browsing graphic novels, exploring the Makerspace, and racing Hot Wheels. Coupled with September’s Parents’ Nights, the Whole Child, Whole School evening rounded out our educational program giving the complete picture of what it means to teach and to learn at Park.

It is not a secret that at Park we educate the whole child. We understand that the years between 4 and 14 are the most critical in a person’s life, and it is during these years that the foundation of academic and emotional intelligence is laid. When people ask me what makes Park unique, I have a lot to say; however, there is a core concept with which I always begin. Park balances beautifully the values and the outcomes of the traditional and progressive philosophies of education. We value both the knowing and the doing — the acquisition of knowledge and skill — and we do so in the context of a diverse community in which children are known and come to know themselves as intellectual, social, emotional, and moral beings. 

Park students, during their time on Goddard Avenue, form their unique intellectual identities fueled by the content they tackle and the teachers who inspire them, and they develop a well-honed set of skills that equip them to succeed in a vast array of environments including high school, college and most importantly, their life beyond. Through math, science, literacy, English, arts (performing and visual), social studies, world languages, physical education, growth education, and athletics, our students are challenged to become mindful leaders, creative problem solvers, compassionate collaborators, skillful communicators, practiced advocates, and of course, joyful learners.

Park graduates develop a critical combination of academic and emotional intelligence. This balanced development allows our students to enter the world not only ready to achieve, but prepared to contribute. To clarify the significance of these intelligences, it is important to first define them.

  • Academic intelligences are the attributes key for academic achievement and performance. They are critical thinking, abstract and creative problem solving, quantitative reasoning, creative expression, skill and knowledge acquisition, as well as visual/spatial processing, verbal aptitude, and logic.
  • Emotional intelligences are the qualities central to success in life, in relationships, in leadership, and in work. They are self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy, social-skill, and moral-direction.

When comparing these lists, it is hard to prioritize one over the other because eliminating or minimizing one has a profound effect on the result. The whole child approach to education is based on this fundamental understanding — that academic and emotional intelligence are equally essential to success. Therefore, the whole child approach to education is critical and central to Park’s philosophy of education.

Academic excellence is at the heart of Park’s mission, and it is delivered through the combination of best in class curriculum and adaptive and differentiated instruction. October’s Whole Child, Whole School evening put Park’s student-centered curriculum and instruction on display, showing that it takes a whole school approach to deliver a whole child outcome.

Park graduates develop a critical combination of academic and emotional intelligence. This balanced development allows our students to enter the world not only ready to achieve, but prepared to contribute.

Scott became Park's 14th Head of School on July 1, 2018, bringing two decades of exceptional achievement to Park as a strategic, compassionate, and effective leader at three nationally recognized independent schools. Prior to joining The Park School community, Scott spent seven years at Marin Academy in San Rafael, CA where he served in the roles of Dean of Faculty and Academic Dean. He lives on campus with his wife Katie, their son Peter, and their daughter Caroline. Scott enjoys mountain biking, road cycling, trail running, playing guitar, reading non-fiction, hiking and backpacking.