January 2018

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Letter from School Leadership

Throughout our history, character education has been an essential component to Whitfield’s college preparatory curriculum. For decades the informal Whitfield motto has been: Be kind and do the right thing. In 2014 we began a formal character development curriculum coined, The Habits of Mind and Heart, or just, the “Habits”.

As Whitfield’s Director of Health and Wellness, I have the privilege and pleasure of working with our faculty to continue to enrich and implement our Habits. There are six focus areas: Ethical Conduct, Cultural Competence, Citizenship, Mindfulness, Leadership and Scholarship. Through the curriculum, coupled with an emphasis on the importance of a growth mindset, we encourage critical reflection for academic and personal growth, improve social and emotional intelligence, and help our students discover the strengths they will need to be effective citizens and leaders.

The Habits curriculum begins each year at every grade level, with all students and faculty taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. The VIA classification consists of 24 positive traits that are valued universally (across cultures, religions, nations, and belief systems) and describe what is best about human beings. The survey results provide a common language for recognizing and developing what is best in ourselves and others. At Whitfield, we start from a position of what is strong instead of what is wrong. All character strengths are ‘buildable’ and with deliberate practice can be strengthened over time—particularly as we employ our growth mindsets.

Whitfield’s Advisory Program is the formal platform for delivering the Habits of Mind and Heart curriculum—often approached through the lens of our character strengths. A deliberate and purposeful Advisory curriculum, specific to each grade level, features activities designed to help students interpret, understand and embrace the Habits.

Informally, the Habits are woven throughout almost every class and subject area. For example in math, students talk about what it means to persevere and learn how to effectively advocate for themselves when they don’t understand a concept (Scholarship). In science, students and faculty talk over ethical considerations that come up in research (Ethical Behavior). In our humanities classes, the Habits of Cultural Competence, Citizenship and Leadership are woven into class discussions.

The Habit of Mindfulness pervades all departments. What we know from the last 30 plus years of neuroscience research is that any human mind works best and learns the best when it is both calm and alert. Through practicing Mindfulness, students learn how to control their own attention and physiology so that they can be calm and alert and ready for learning. As we practice mindfulness, we develop a willingness to be curious and accepting.

Feel free to reach out if you would like to know more.

Sincerely,
Ginny Fendell, MSW, LCSW
Director of Health and Wellness
ginny.fendell@whitfieldschool.org

 


Synthetic Tissue Engineering
At Whitfield, we define Scholarship—one of our six Habits of Mind and Heart—as the pursuit, creation and application of knowledge and understanding. Recognizing that our approach to a college prep education is through character education, our skilled faculty use the Habits as a jumping off point for classwork. Nowhere is the integration of Scholarship more deftly demonstrated than in Biology 9, under the leadership of Stephanie Bonat, one of our new faculty members this year.

Visual Literacy & the Graphic Novel
In Visual Literacy & the Graphic Novel, in addition to breathing new life into traditional content with the help of technology, students examine a historic medium with 21st century eyes—comics. Students in this class closely read comics and graphic novels to study the evolution of graphic literature as both an art form and storytelling medium.

Creativity with Cardboard
At Whitfield, we approach visual arts as another language or discipline to use to creatively solve problems. For seniors taking an advanced studio art course the Cardboard Chair Project is a rite of passage that challenges them to design and build a chair, using only cardboard, gummed paper tape and Elmer's glue.

Coffee & Conversation for Current Parents
We are excited to announce Coffee & Conversation, a new program series designed to provide current parents with an opportunity to meaningfully engage with one another and school leaders.

Scholarship Through Collaboration
Throughout the Social Studies curriculum, as well as many disciplines, Whitfield students learn about Citizenship, the practice of liberty, equity and justice in community. In eighth grade students take Civics and U.S. Government to broaden their understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.

Montage 2018: Warrior Now - Whitfield Forever
Get ready for Whitfield's Montage Auction on Saturday, April 21, 2018 in the Cady Athletic Center! This annual event is the school's biggest fundraiser and largest event, with an expected 200 current parents, alumni, parents of alumni, grandparents and friends joining us this year

Alumni Profile
Whitfield's alumni are accomplished and diverse. We are proud to celebrate their successes and share their stories through our Alumni Profile feature in Whitfield eNews. Jay Gard '08 graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Tulane University where he double majored in English and Film Studies. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, CA where he pursues his life-long passion for filmmaking.

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Events

1/26/18
All day
 
4:00 PM
John Burroughs School
 
5:00 PM
Francis Howell High School
 

WHITFIELD SCHOOL


175 South Mason Road   |   St. Louis, MO 63141 
T: 314-434 5141  |  www.whitfieldschool.org

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