n a cold, snowy January weekend, our Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership Team converged on our North Campus to begin charting the course for WT’s next chapter—to focus on what we might do differently and how we would grow our thinking. But with WT’s many successes in recent years, why should we do anything differently? It seems to be working after all. Enrollment demand is at an all-time high, alumnae/i and parent engagement is tremendous (thank you!), we are the envy of many other independent schools, and we have a nationally recognized academic program in City as Our Campussm. So why change?
I cannot count the number of times in my first year as Head of School that I have been asked, “So what changes are needed at WT?” I’ve been challenging myself, and those with whom I partner in this work, to reframe this question to one that sees our direction as an evolution. We will not be jettisoning all of the things that have brought us to this moment. Instead, we need to rise to new levels by enhancing all that we do. (See this issue’s cover story on “Thriveability” for more details on where we’re headed.)
We can never forget that WT exists, first and foremost, as a center for teaching and learning. The work we do in our classrooms and programs every day transforms lives and lays the groundwork for successful futures. Sure, we teach math, science, language arts, social studies, arts, and so much more. And we know that we must continue to evolve our teaching and curriculum to adapt to our rapidly changing world. For example, years ago, teaching computer science meant typing skills and word processing. Now it’s computer science “literacy” that’s taught–and not just for the curious few, but for all students in all divisions. And next year, our students will have an opportunity to engage in a machine learning course that will bring together complex computer science skills, social studies research, and problem solving.
As we challenge our students and one another to “Think also…,” we know that evolving our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion will be critical for success.
As we evaluate and plan for the future, we need to build a curriculum that is adaptable to the demands of the world around us and truly prepares students for career pathways that might not yet exist.
Our focus does not lie solely on the academic realm, though. Since our founding, WT has been committed to helping students become good human beings who make a positive impact on their communities. As we challenge our students and one another to “Think also…,” we know that evolving our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion will be critical for success. Students must learn about their own identities and the identities of those they encounter. Our equity and inclusion statement calls us “to be courageous and intentional in promoting understanding, addressing bias, identifying and honoring qualities of justice, respecting multiple perspectives and contributions, and valuing the dignity of all.” And with all that has been happening around us—here in Pittsburgh, nationally, and internationally—never has this work been more important than today.
As we come to the close of our 132nd year, I am joyfully optimistic for WT’s future. I can only imagine the pride our founders, Misses Mitchell and Thurston, would feel to see how the school they founded so long ago is not only surviving but thriving. Your continued support and engagement is critical to us ensuring that, as we continue down this pathway of excellence, we evolve WT’s future for the next century and beyond.