DPN, Deerfield and the Future

Ever wonder about the future, what it is supposed to look like and how you will get there?  I don’t because I’m too busy trying to catch up.  Two years from now?  I’m worried about next week.  Technology?  The only reason I text is because my kids don’t respond to phone calls or emails.

Imagine how a secondary school thinks about the future.  What about Deerfield?  Has the Academy done much to plan for the next decade?  As President of the DPN, I was invited to attend several meetings of the Trustees in January.  I can tell you; without doubt, Margarita Curtis and her team have a great sense of what lies ahead for secondary school education.

Academic Dean Peter Warsaw and the Department Heads have conducted research and identified six essential qualities of a successful Deerfield graduate. (Please see Peter Warsaw’s article in the current issue of the Link Newsletter and attend the DPN’s session over Spring Parents Weekend to hear more about this topic.) Now they are collaborating to encourage development of these qualities in all Deerfield students.  Capstone Projects, a form of thesis written during a student’s senior year, is one tool the Academy is already using in the Global H2O course.  According to Peter, “Capstones would require students to demonstrate intrinsic motivation, passion, discipline, independence, initiative, resilience, curiosity, creativity, presentation skills, writing skills and in some cases, collaboration.”  The Dean is also undertaking a review of the daily and weekly schedules, fewer but longer classes, letter rather than numerical grades, and projects of greater depth and focus.

Dean of Faculty John Taylor is looking at a number of new initiatives including inserting more technology into the classroom, offering more interdisciplinary courses, a renewed writing curriculum, and introducing global and sustainability concepts into the curriculum.  To help flush out these initiatives John realizes the Academy needs to provide more time, space and resources to the faculty for professional development.  He is working on a program now to grant release time from teaching and/or coaching responsibilities in order for teachers to focus on specific projects.

John has also formed an Athletic Task Force to address the challenges of increasing student specialization.  Demands to focus on one sport and possible college recruitment places more burdens on the coaches and administration.  In addition, there is strong interest in maintaining high levels of participation at the sub-varsity level and experience greater success at the varsity level.

Additional focus on Global Studies, Sustainability and Community Service comes from the Academy’s commitment to “prepare students for leadership in a rapidly changing world that requires global understanding, environmental stewardship and dedication to service” according to Deerfield’s Mission Statement.  There’s a proposal to create a new Center for Service and Citizenship.  It would provide students with training, mentorship and educational opportunities to become more effective leaders and engaged citizens.  Students would come to the center for financial or logistical support, mentoring, connections to outside networks, training in entrepreneurship and leadership skills and general encouragement.

Wow.  There is a lot going on.  We can be assured that Deerfield spends considerable time and energy looking to the future. I think you will agree that  Deerfield is on the right track towards building successful graduates.

A Global Experience: School Year Abroad | Deerfield Academy’s Six Ideal Qualities and Curriculum Design

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