Learning

Learning has to be relevant so kids can transfer concepts to new situations and make sense of things. Then they become able to decode, to understand, to reflect, to compare, and so on—all those higher-order thinking skills that become accessible to them, even to very young kids.

—St. George’s teacher

Certain qualities have always defined a St. George’s education: a profound respect for the individual learner, an approach designed to meet each student where he or she is at, learning scenarios that are personally meaningful and engaging, a curriculum that encourages wide exploration and deep investigation, and a commitment to educating the complete person, not just the academic mind.

More recently, St. George’s has focused on developing expertise in modern best practices, such as responsive teaching, concept-based curriculum design, ongoing faculty development through Professional Learning Communities, student-to-student discussion, and the use of visible learning.

St. George’s is not content to sit still, though. As you’ll see below, this strategic plan ensures that our school will not simply maintain our exceptional educational program, but will invest significant resources in continuing to pioneer and model the most innovative teaching practices.

Click each of the tabs below to learn more.

The Essentials

St. George’s has always insisted that our curriculum encompass and convey those lessons, concepts, and skills most essential for a lifetime of learning, growth, fulfillment, and success. With only so many hours in a day, only so many days in a school year, and the 12 years between Kindergarten and high school graduation passing in the blink of an eye, it’s equally important that we choose what not to focus on as what we will.

 

While the topics, technology, and instructional methodologies have evolved through the years, St. George’s has always offered a learning experience that emphasizes what we see as the essentials of a complete education: deep understanding, broad experience, full character development, and formation of individual perspective and creative self-expression. Through this strategic plan, we will increase our focus on developing our students to their fullest potential in the following essential areas—in every grade, subject, lesson, and moment.

DEPTH

Deep knowledge, skill, understanding, and strategy
We learn early that the solution to a problem depends upon the ability to find facts, to interpret them, and to organize them into well-written reports. This is the basis of the project or the research method.
—Carol Freeman, age 15, writing in The Shield, 1958

 

When students are encouraged to pursue individual passions, when learning is both engaging and personally meaningful, and when teachers meet each student at their learning edge, deep thinking, deep understanding, and deep knowledge of oneself as a thinker and learner result naturally.
Gatineau River Expedition2

BREADTH

Wide exposure and experience
Creativity is just connecting things.
—Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc.

 

We know that human intelligence and ingenuity extend to—and are developed through—all areas of human experience. Therefore, we commit to offering our students—and encouraging them to take advantage of—as wide a range of teaching approaches, subject areas, hands-on experiences, extra-curricular programs, and cross-cultural experiences as possible. We believe creative problem solving is essentially connecting existing knowledge in new ways. In other words, it’s dot connecting. And at St. George’s, we’ve always believed students become better dot connectors when they’ve collected lots of dots.

CHARACTER

Ethical, intellectual, and civic
St. George’s wants—truly wants and truly tries—to improve your character. They want you to leave a better person than when you arrived.
—St. George’s eleventh grader

At St. George’s, character development is an ethos, not a program. The character lessons we teach happen mostly by osmosis—through role modeling, respectful engagement, and thoughtful dialogue. While that won’t change, our new strategic plan commits us to codifying language that describes, and developing programming that more fully supports, students’ character growth in three dimensions:
 
Ethical character: traits such as trustworthiness, group-consciousness, respect, responsibility, fairness, compassion, integrity, honesty

Civic character: habits such as giving back, social-mindedness, citizenship, meaningful contribution, cooperation, environmental stewardship

Intellectual character: qualities such as resilience, curiosity, stamina, critical thinking, creativity, open-mindedness, reflection, collaboration

INDIVIDUALITY

Unique perspective and self-expression
The modern school encourages the child to be a distinct personality, an individualist…
—First St. George’s prospectus, 1930
 
We believe that originality is our nation’s greatest natural resource, and that original thinking requires original people. St. George’s teachers have always seen and taught our students as unique individuals. But we also want each and every student to see him- or herself as one-of-a-kind—possessing a unique voice and having something uniquely valuable to say. Through our implementation of this plan, we will offer students more, better, and deeper opportunities for self-understanding, self-expression, and respectful self-advocacy.

Portrait of a St. George's Graduate

St. George’s taught me how not to be a sheep—not to just follow everyone. People who come out of St. George’s are doing what they want to do; they come up with ideas on their own and follow through with them.

—St. George’s alumnus

 

“Beginning with the end in mind” is a core concept in curriculum design, and one we applied to ourselves during the strategic planning process. Therefore, in support of our focus on further enhancing and deepening each student’s educational experience, St. George’s School has crafted the following Portrait of a Graduate. In essence, the Portrait serves as the equivalent of an educational vision statement for each and every one of our students, and helps keep school leaders both focused on and aligned around the intended outcome of a St. George’s education. Every other priority and initiative outlined in this plan exists to help us reliably and sustainably graduate these kinds of young adults.

Areas of Increased Emphasis

I applaud the school’s efforts to, once again, stay ahead of the curve.

—St. George’s parent

A tradition of innovation

In addition to renewing our focus on the essentials, the strategic plan commits to increasing the school’s emphasis in the following areas, which we’ve identified as key to strengthening the already-strong St. George’s experience:

 

  • Inquiry-based pedagogy

  • Interdisciplinary curriculum and instruction

  • Digital and information literacy

  • Media production skills for both students and faculty

  • Meaningful, appropriate, and seamless technology integration

  • Aligning curriculum with learning spaces

  • Incorporating sustainability-related concepts, issues, practices, and problem-solving into curriculum

  • Fostering deep intellectual character in areas such as resilience, leadership, comfort with ambiguity, goal setting, reflection, and self-assessment

  • Support for every student’s learning

 

By deepening, enriching, improving, and extending various academic and programmatic offerings, we will deliver a curriculum that is as rich in content and diverse in implementation as our students’ multifaceted interests, talents, and ideas deserve.

Faculty and Staff Excellence

The soul of St. George’s exists in the space between students and teachers.

—St. George’s parent

Great teaching comes from great teachers

Anyone who’s met, learned from, or been a colleague of a St. George’s teacher knows they’re not only foremost in their field, they’re the most passionate, invested, committed, hard-working, lively, trustworthy, loving, creative… (the list goes on!) group of educators on the planet. We recognize that they’re the lifeblood of this school and the most essential ingredient in delivering our signature educational program. As such, much of our new strategic plan focuses on attracting, retaining, developing, and taking good care of our mission-aligned, amazing faculty and staff. A few specific strategies include:

  • Articulating and sharing a “Portrait of a St. George’s Faculty/Staff Member”

  • Prioritizing and investing in ongoing professional development

  • Maintaining our faculty mentoring program and establishing a formal support program for new staff members

  • Growing faculty Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

  • Celebrating faculty and staff contributions

  • Ensuring competitive compensation

  • Sustaining and nurturing our supportive, growth-oriented, trusting, collegial culture

  • Encouraging faculty and staff contribution to innovative thinking, curriculum design, and ad-hoc problem-solving

  • Aligning evaluation and growth plans with research-based evidence and mission-aligned criteria

  • Supporting health and wellness

Metrics and Initiatives

Measuring what matters

Because the St. George’s approach is rooted in research, cutting-edge practice, and careful self-reflection, school leaders prioritize having the right tools to both ensure and assess the school’s effectiveness at accomplishing its mission.

 

Through this strategic plan, St. George’s commits to creating the following benchmarks and metrics for assessment:

  • Documenting and benchmarking technology integration within and across grades, divisions, and departments

  • Creating a system to track student success beyond high school

  • Developing Twenty-first-century post-secondary readiness indicators

  • Developing a K-11 resilience plan

  • Developing and implementing a K-11 leadership framework

  • Reviewing and further identifying essential knowledge and skills in all disciplines