Home Community Blog Waterford Rising: Update on the Strategic Plan IV

As we near the conclusion of this celebratory year – 40 years of Liberal Arts Excellence – I write to provide a brief program update and a reminder of our strategic priorities.

Last Thursday, faculty and staff attended an employee appreciation dinner, one of our final 40th anniversary events, and enjoyed an extraordinary tribute delivered by Dr. Mark Matheson, professor of English at the University of Utah, and past parent and board of trustees member. He shared thoughts about his son Aidan, a history major at the U, and how his liberal arts experience at Waterford inspired and prepared him for an internship at Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland. Dr. Matheson spoke poignantly about how Waterford teachers helped nurture in Aidan, the fundamental aspiration of a liberal arts education, the search for meaning and purpose. Our vision as a school—the why of everything we do—is to inspire students to embark on that search for meaning, and to equip them with the intellectual and emotional tools they need to succeed in that search: strong reading, thinking, and writing skills; the capacity to absorb, process, and synthesize information; the habit of curiosity and questioning, fueled by an authentic love of ongoing learning over a lifetime. As we develop and practice these skills and dispositions, we open ourselves to the examined life, where meaning and purpose are found.

Beyond amazing classroom experiences, in every division and discipline, Waterford students enjoy unparalleled opportunities to explore and create meaning. From our world-qualifying robotics team, to our highly-ranked Science Olympiad team, to our state qualifying debate and ethics bowl teams, to the 110 dancers who delighted packed audiences in the ballet, Coppélia, Waterford students are constantly growing and excelling. A student-led community service effort raised $6,000 for Ukrainian relief. Twelve students won all-state honors in athletics and music. Forty Lower School students competed in a regional chess tournament, and 28 students enjoyed robotics. 22 members of the class of 2022 were accepted to the top 50 colleges, and we have six national merit semi-finalists in this year’s graduating class. Lower Schoolers enjoyed and excelled during class days; Ancient Greece Day, Medieval Day, Endangered Animal Projects, and Famous Persons’ Day. Our Music Ensemble, quartet, and twelve soloists qualified for state competition and two students were awarded National Silver Medals from the Scholastic Art Awards Association in Photography. And last weekend, twenty Lower School students delighted a full black box theater with an original performance of Robin Hood.

In every dimension of student engagement, the depth and breadth of our liberal arts program is in action, on display and celebrated. Students make meaning in so many aspects of their experience, and we are grateful to our dedicated faculty for creating such extraordinary opportunities.

As we look to a bright future accentuated by a campus building renaissance, we will redouble our efforts on strategic priorities adopted in 2018 which directly support transformational teaching and an extraordinary student experience. In the last two years, we adopted a new teacher professional growth program, along with a quadrupling of professional development resources available to faculty. To continue to attract, retain and professionally “grow” the most talented teaching faculty in the country, we have also worked to increase compensation and other benefits. This spring we also appointed two veteran teachers to positions that will provide liberal arts curricular and pedagogical support and plan to use these new faculty leadership positions to strengthen cohesion around the philosophical tenets of the liberal arts.

To ensure that the student experience remains aligned with the elevated aspirations of our mission and vision, we plan to focus on the culture and climate of student life and a renewed focus on social skills and peer relationships. We will work to increase opportunities for connection and school spirit outside the classroom through an expansion of activities and service. We have refined the Associate Dean of Students role to focus on student life, and to lead out in this crucial source of joy on our campus. We will also add a second School counselor who will focus on Middle School while Dr. Johnson serves our Upper School community to support student wellness. Additionally, we will lean into efforts to better support all students in our care so that they may benefit from the power and promise of our mission and find the joy in the rigor that characterizes the Waterford experience. In LS, we will be refining our health and wellness scope and sequence so that our students even better learn how to care for themselves and others.

This year’s theme of Excellence inspired us to practice resilience and collectively push through the challenges of Covid-19 during our 40th anniversary. I am pleased to announce that the 2022-23 school-year’s theme will be Joy in the Journey—a phrase that animates the essence of the Waterford experience as we stimulate intellect, ignite passion, and shape character, helping students to receive the greatest gift of all—a true, intrinsic, life-long love of learning. We will keep you informed of our progress with improvement efforts – the Journey that is constant and continuous School improvement!

We look forward to the remaining five weeks of the school, and to celebrating the class of 2022 on June 2! Bravo to our seniors!

Thank you for sharing your children with us and for your commitment and support of our ambitious learning community.

Waterford News

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