While the 2020-21 school year began like no other, Wellington Jaguars showed up with the same boundless excitement and curiosity that marks the start of every great adventure in learning. The remarkable journey these students will now embark on, after months of thoughtful preparation by faculty and administrators, will be memorable not just for the challenges our community faced but for how those challenges were embraced as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
From the very beginning of the return to campus planning, Wellington was committed to meeting the unique needs of every family by developing education models designed for optionality and flexibility. The installation of a Digital Presence Platform, or DPP, in classrooms provided students learning from home full access into their classes on campus by using a combination of large, flat panel TVs and webcams. The system allows students connecting remotely to engage with their teachers and peers exactly as if they were sitting in the room.
When the first full day of classes arrived with all students on campus or dialed in from home, it was a joyful celebration of the Wellington community coming together after many months apart. Head of School Dr. Jeff Terwin, out and about with Duke the Jaguar, enthusiastically greeted families in carline before students headed into their classrooms. There were a few new rules to remember, like the 3 Ws (wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance), but much of what makes Wellington so special has stayed the same, like small classes and student-centered curriculum that leads to meaningful self-discovery. Watch the 3 Ws video below and see more photos from the first day of school here.
“Teachers feed off the energy in the classroom and getting an accurate read on that energy behind a mask or a screen is also no easy task,” Head of Upper School Rishi Raghunathan P ’27 ’30 explained to parents. “Despite all these roadblocks, the first week of school was full of energy, hope, and promise. The success was made possible thanks to our courageous, creative, and resilient teachers.”
For students learning from home, delightful moments of exploration, like finding a great book while perusing the shelves of a library, were brought directly to them when Wellington Librarian Vicki Jacobs P ’22 delivered books to their front doors for socially-distanced porch story-time.
One of Wellington’s newest and most fun traditions is The Leap, held on the first Monday of the school year. Although the event was virtual this year, it was no less an inspiring kickoff for the year ahead. Terwin shared how proud he was to be a part of this community and that the primary goal for this year is to take care of ourselves and each other.
“There is a saying that rough seas make strong sailors,” he said. “What does that mean? It means we will all develop new strategies, we will work together as a team, and we will build resilience. We will ride these waves and get stronger because of it.”
Each division head shared their own poignant messages about overcoming obstacles with a flexible, growth mindset and willingness to adapt and collaborate. Then, in a call for Jags to flex their creative muscles, Terwin announced a new competition open to all members of the Wellington community to submit a jingle, a song parody, an artistic expression, or video to highlight our three Ws. See more photos from The Leap here.
Now, more than two weeks into the school year, students are settling into new routines, while still finding the same positive outcomes that punctuate every year at Wellington. Newly introduced Flex Days in the middle and upper school give students more autonomy in exploring their personal passions. Lower school students are further developing their problem-solving techniques and design thinking skills. Every student is building confidence in their ability to tackle complexities in life. They are stronger than they think, never more so than when they have a community of educators and parents backing them up. “First and foremost, we are Jags,” Terwin said, “and will leap together.”