Scott FechFrom our very beginnings, Winchester Thurston School has been viewed as a leader in education. Our founders set out to create a unique experience that reimagined learning for girls and young women—one which would prepare them for the rigors of post-secondary education as well as challenging them to break the boundaries that had been established for women.

And while WT has come a long way in our first 134 years, that commitment to reimagining learning continues as we forge new pathways in education.

So what does it mean to reimagine learning in 2020? It would be easy for us to focus solely on the current pandemic and how WT has flexed our school model to be able to have our students back on campus, and how we have integrated new technologies making it possible for some students to be learning remotely. But that limited view would be shortsighted. Even before the pandemic, WT deepened and expanded our commitment to innovative, student-centered pedagogy, curricula, and practice anchored in real-world connections through our Strategic Design. We knew that our practices would need to embed equity and inclusion to ensure that each of our students would be able to make the most of their WT experience. And, we understood that we needed to evolve our school model to prepare students for an unknown future.

When some people think of innovation in education, too often they focus only on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At WT, innovation exists not only in our STEM offerings, which we have featured in previous issues of Thistletalk, but across all disciplines. One example is our Visual Arts curriculum which provides our students the opportunity to develop not only the skills needed to create art, but also the ability to understand how art can transform a community with an emphasis on social justice, equity, and inclusion.

In addition, our students are learning how we approach adaptation in times of uncertainty. They witness how adults adjust to change, and they learn. They see how organizations pivot, and they learn. They are developing resilience as they adapt to a new way of living and being in school, as old routines need to be adjusted to keep the community safe—the ultimate expression of “Think also.” This is what the future requires. Adaptability. Flexibility. Resiliency.

Understanding that we are preparing our students for an unknown future, WT remains focused on both the now and the not yet. Our Board sees this focus on the future as important enough that a new committee, the Future Forum, has been created to help us see and learn from the evolution around us in every field, helping us evolve our programs so that our students are ready to make a difference in the real word. And our success can be measured when we look at our alumnae/i who are leading in the age of COVID-19.

Often transformational moments for an organization are accompanied by uncertainty. That is certainly true today for WT. But time and time again, we have not let that deter our dreams for a brighter future for our students. Instead, we embraced that uncertainty and took some risks, allowing WT to remain on the forefront of education. Never content to rest on our laurels, we will continue to lead from the front and allow others to follow.