Each summer, the faculty and staff in the Upper School choose a book to read together that will inform our practice the following year. Over the summer of 2016, the Upper School faculty and staff read Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids and the following May, author Denise Pope met with faculty to discuss changes to school programming that might better support our students. Denise Pope is also a founding member of Challenge Success, a project that originated from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, to address student stress and the level of engagement of students in our schools. The goal of Challenge Success is to collaborate with schools and families to create both an academically fulfilling and balanced life for students.
Last year, The Bush School became an official Challenge Success school. A committee of administrators, faculty, parents, and students attended conferences at Stanford, in the fall and spring, where they learned from and contributed to sessions around research-based approaches that increase student wellness and engagement. The Challenge Success team continued to meet and collaborate after the conference sessions to craft a series of meaningful changes on behalf of our students and families, which were implemented this fall. These changes include our new daily schedule, homework guidelines, student-centered community time, and an emphasis on student wellness and relationship building within our community. Those changes, inspired by our work with Challenge Success, coupled with a more robust professional development and collaboration time for our faculty around project based learning, interdisciplinary coursework, and the role of student autonomy and choice has made for an exciting start to the 2018-2019 academic year.
Throughout this year, the Upper School faculty and staff will continue to support students as they balance school work, extracurricular activities, family time and rest. As Dr. Jon Kleinman of explained at the fall Challenge Success conference, it’s like balancing on a surfboard—we have to make continuous adjustments to bring balance to students’ lives.
Pictured: Upper School Director Ray Wilson, Experiential Programs Manager Kristin McInaney, Zoe Pottinger ’18, Julie Pottinger, Academic Dean Sally Maxwell, Upper School French Teacher Esther Requiam, Upper School Assistant Director and Science Teacher Kelsey Medrano, Upper School Math Teacher Christine Miller