by Thad Falkner, Head of School
Among the many concerns for our society during the pandemic is the effect that virtual learning will have on our children. Research shows that students in a normal year already experience a “summer slide” in knowledge retention after summer vacation. Given that, it is reasonable to be concerned that students whose school year was disrupted by a sudden, unplanned transition to virtual learning might suffer from a learning gap. Such a gap would not only have a negative impact on their ability to learn at the appropriate level when they return to school, but would also potentially affect their long-term academic success.
As a parent, educator, and citizen, I remain concerned about this for our wider community and world. However, I am thankful to report that, at Wilson, we believe we have successfully met this challenge and that our students are learning at their traditional levels this fall. For example, we evaluated our 5th and 6th grade students using a standardized test from the same publisher we use for our traditional spring standardized tests. This allowed us to reliably compare each class’s performance to their previous performance, to a standard Wilson class’s performance, as well as to national norms for other independent elementary schools. I am proud to share that not only did they not lose ground, but that both the 5th and 6th grade classes improved from their expected scores. This is an amazing testimony to the collaborative work of the Wilson community over the past few months!
So, how did we do this? I could enthusiastically speak at length on this, but I will share a few highlights for the sake of brevity.
Finally, I can’t help but think that our commitment to excellence and growth, which stretches back more than a century, fostered the resilience needed to navigate such a difficult time with such success. I am grateful to have been a part of that, and I hope you are, too.
by Thad Falkner, Head of School
At Wilson, we strive to make our school motto, Make Your Mark A Good One (MYMAGO), a way of life. Each year we choose one of our nine MYMAGO themes to focus on as a community, and this year’s is Being Courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the willingness to act in spite of our fear. So why and how do we equip our children to be courageous?
The “why” of equipping students to be courageous may seem obvious; the people we admire most and who have changed our world for the better are very often characterized by courage. We want our kids to stand up for what they believe, even when that seems daunting. However, being courageous isn’t just for those big moments. Courage is also integral to making the day-to-day decisions and taking the risks necessary to grow in all aspects of life, including social and academic. When we give students the opportunity to try (and, importantly, fail at) things that seem frightening, they develop resilience and confidence.
So, how do we do this at Wilson? There are too many ways to name them all, but following are a few that come to mind:
Make Your Mark A Good One by Being Courageous can be something kids practice at home, too. Children often assume that adults don’t get scared like they do, or that acting in the face of difficulty is easier when you’re older. You can share with them developmentally appropriate examples of when you had to be courageous. You can also recognize and praise progress as they work to be courageous, whether it’s in learning to ride a bike, read a book aloud, or initiate a conversation with a new friend.
I’m looking forward to growing in courage with the Wilson community this year!
For further reading:
by Megan Philip, Admissions and Communications Associate
If you’re a college football fan (or even if you’re not!) you know that the Ohio State Buckeyes went undefeated in the 2019 regular season in one of the nation’s toughest football conferences, the Big 10. What you may not know is that one of their wide receivers is a proud Wilson grad. Christopher Booker (Wilson ‘10, John Burroughs School ‘16) may now be part of one of college athletics’ most storied programs, but the road there was not an easy one.
After winning a high school state championship with JBS in 2015, Chris began his college career at the University of Dayton. After transferring to The Ohio State University, he played the 2018 season for their club football team, where he was named a first-team All-American by the National Club Football Association. In 2019 he achieved the rare distinction of earning a walk-on spot on the Division I team. This accomplishment came on the heels of an extraordinarily difficult year for his family, in the wake of his beloved brother Nick’s sudden death in the fall of 2018.
Chris was kind enough to take some time away from his rigorous practice schedule to speak with our Head of School about the motivation and experiences behind his success as a scholar-athlete and the role Wilson played in developing them. We’re honored to share some of those thoughts with you below.
-Find something you’re passionate about “I look for something I can hang my hat on and that I can do something good with.” Chris strives to act as both an inspiration and a role model to those around him.
-Then do it for a reason “This is where the grit, and the passion, comes from. Never do something unless you know why you’re doing it.”
-”Your best opponent is yourself: How good can you be? The amount of work you have to put in to be great is always more than you think. You have to value the hard work.” Which leads to...
-”It’s my goal to be the hardest working player on the field- to give the most effort on every play and opportunity I get.” Chris credits his family and his teachers at Wilson for instilling this in him.
-”Remain humble. It’s not hard to do that when you’ve gone to Wilson, because they teach you to think and to look on a grander scale at the world, to view knowledge as a tool that can also benefit those around you. I learned all of that at Wilson. My time at Burroughs was great, and they teach you those things, too, but I learned the essential foundations at Wilson, and I don’t think the rest would have been possible without that.”
by Thad Falkner, Head of School
As we move into 2020, it’s a natural time for reflection and for contemplating our aspirations for the coming year. What we know as adults is true for children and adolescents, as well: Success is rarely accidental; it most often comes as the culmination of goals that are set and pursued.
While your children may not have any lofty ambitions for the year ahead, this is a natural and worthwhile opportunity for them to experience the process of setting and working toward a goal. Whether they succeed or fail in reaching it, they will receive the invaluable reward of learning grit and resilience. Give it a try!
A few things to consider:
Children are uniquely equipped for the practice of goal-setting because of their enthusiasm and joy. Instinctively, parents want these traits to endure, but their approach for doing so is important. Parents can clear the way for children to easily succeed, but that will not empower them for true, long-term success nor cultivate resilience. Conversely, parents can guide their children to success, allowing and encouraging them to work through adversity. This leads to grit, which in turn leads to lasting enthusiasm and joy, because your children will be equipped with appropriate self-sufficiency.
Here’s to enthusiasm, joy, and success for our children in 2020!
by Thad Falkner, Head of School
Wilson’s mission statement begins with these very important words: “To prepare students for success in an ever-changing world.” We take our mission very seriously, so we measure our success meeting this goal in a variety of different ways. We’re excited to share what we’ve discovered with you today.
Test Scores- Certainly, test scores don’t paint the full picture of a student, but they are a good place to start. Over the past five years, our median sixth grade student has scored between the 90th and 95th percentile on all areas of standardized testing.
Secondary School Placement- 100% of our students attend their first or second choice secondary school upon graduating from Wilson. This speaks not only to their academic readiness, but also to the great care and attention given to them and their families as we work together to find what school will be the best fit for each student.
On a more personal note, we periodically survey our graduates and their parents to see how well they felt Wilson prepared them for the next step in their journey and what we might do even better in the future. Here’s what we’ve heard recently:
We are gratified to receive lots of personal comments, as well, such as this one:
“I give all credit for my child’s secondary school success to the incredible preparation, rigor, support, and encouragement she received at Wilson. She has always challenged herself to take the most rigorous courses available and to embrace leadership opportunities, and she has grown into an accomplished and kind young woman. Thank you for giving her the important foundation she needed to excel.”
It’s not the Wilson Way to simply rest on our laurels; we’re a community that is always seeking to grow and improve. Even so, we’re incredibly proud of our successful graduates and the community that helped shape them.
Wilson in the News