by Megan Philip, Parent of Alum & Trustee
Choosing Wilson for our daughter is probably the best parenting decision my husband and I have ever made. You might think that would make writing a short reflection on the Wilson student experience an easy task, but I realized it’s hard to know where to start! When I told my daughter, who is now a high school freshman, about the topic, she asked me to clarify. I gave her some possibilities, hoping she might pick one for me: How each student at Wilson is known and treated as a unique individual; the academic preparation she received for secondary school; the interesting learning experiences and trips she took part in; having teachers that she will remember for a lifetime. Her response to which one I should choose was, “Gosh, Mom -- all of them!” So, from our family to yours, here is a glimpse of The Wilson School student experience.
To be a student at Wilson is to have a home away from home, a place where every single teacher (and the school secretary and the lunch lady and the mindfulness instructor…) knows your name. It is the opportunity to be in an environment where you are safe: safe enough to take the risks necessary to grow as a person and as a learner, and to know that you will be celebrated when you succeed and encouraged when you fall short. To be a student at Wilson is to be exposed to learning opportunities that most of us only dream about: curriculum designed by passionate, committed faculty who love what they do and where they do it. To be a student at Wilson is to thrive academically in the subject that is hardest for you (and therefore, that you may be the least interested in), because you had teachers year after you who believed in you, who lovingly drew out the very best part of you that you didn’t even know was there, who made you willing and able to achieve far more than you thought possible. To be a student at Wilson is to have a whole community to support your parents as they guide you in growing up: learning how to manage your time and take responsibility for yourself, learning how to resolve conflicts and to build healthy relationships with the people around you. To be a student at Wilson is to have people interested and invested in you long after you have graduated, delighted when you return to visit.
To be a student at Wilson is to benefit from more than 100 years of excellence in elementary education and to become someone who pursues excellence wherever life takes her.
by Thad Falkner, Head of School
Adults can feel constrained by the amounts of time spent in an office and burdened with the time spent on mobile devices, laptops, and other digital tools. Unfortunately, school can mimic this experience. It’s best to provide children time and opportunities to discover through different modalities and explore the world in different settings and through outdoor activities.
At Wilson, students explore and learn through a balance of approaches, beyond teacher-led, in-classroom instruction. Whether they are making observations in our outdoor classroom, recording digital compositions, conducting a simulated archaeological dig, or noting seasonal changes while hiking through Kennedy Forest, Wilson students have the advantage of balanced learning experiences.
“Wilson consistently engages the students in a variety of activities, so they can learn in and outside of the classroom.” SK parent
At Wilson, technology and the outdoors overlap. Because Wilson teachers are creative, innovative, and experts in their field, they find numerous ways to blend these approaches for a balanced outcome:
Think outside the box and get into the sandbox
Here are some ideas and creative ways you can encourage learning with your child away from a screen while keeping it fun and intriguing.
Was this information helpful? What has your child found most exciting when exploring and learning about the world around them?
Developing leadership skills, bonding as a class, and gaining confidence, independence, and maturity, are some of the outcomes from the sixth graders trip to Camp Manitowa. Challenges pushed students out of their comfort zone to realize that they possess the strength, courage, and support to face any obstacle they may come across. All students were called to personal challenge as they successfully climbed the 50 foot high ropes course and experienced the lake by swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. Team building and bonding was evident through low ropes challenges and playing team sports such as gaga ball and capture the flag. Some student comments include, "I faced my fear of heights. I didn't think I could do it, but I am ready to climb the tower again!" and "I learned how much my class really cares for each other. We have each other's backs!"
Merely reciting history is not as effective as making history come alive. As part of the archeology unit in fifth grade, we went on an overnight trip to Kampsville, Illinois. Our trip was filled with opportunities to compare our life today with those who first settled in Calhoun County. The class participated in activities such as digging clay from the side of a creek to make a useful pot, going on an eco-hike, doing flintknapping, and throwing an atlatl.
When the class returned to school, the students reflected on their time at Kampsville.
Ben said that he learned that almost everything in the wild has some kind of use. The use might be minor, or it could be major, or there could be a ton of different uses. He also learned that back then, making a fire was really hard. Chandler said that she learned how people long ago lived, how they managed and survived. She learned what people of that time had to do and how to manage fire sparks and carving rocks into arrowheads. She learned what it took to even be on this planet and survive long ago.
This integrated learning experience involved leaving the walls of Wilson, simulating experiences of Native Americans through art, tool making and games. Absolutely it was fun, but they came away with a better understanding of how hard life must have been for the Native Americans who lived in this area.
Wilson in the News