Mission & Philosophy
The joy of learning and the wonder of the natural world inform every aspect of The Willow School, an independent school for students in preschool through eighth grade. Willow students strive to excel academically and develop a strong work ethic through our mindful, integrated curriculum. By embodying the virtues, Willow maintains an environment where respect for the individual and an understanding of place fosters independent thinking, interconnectivity, creativity, responsibility, and integrity. The Willow School education empowers children to develop an ethical approach to all relationships and to believe in their power to effect positive change.
The Willow School helps children discover who they are, the joy of learning, and the wonder of the environment around them. Our purpose in doing so is to develop people who make meaningful contributions to others and to the world in which they live.
Everything at Willow is intentionally designed to foster a passion for learning, intellectual inquiry, and the development of an ethical approach to all relationships. We believe:
- Children develop into their best selves in an environment where every learning experience has an intellectual and ethical purpose. That’s why our curriculum is experiential, relevant, and designed to facilitate inquiry and discovery. Here, students delve deeply into a subject from multiple perspectives, and, guided by enthusiastic master teachers, learn to put their acquired knowledge to use as they think about and question the world around them.
- Connections make learning more meaningful. That’s why the Willow curriculum is integrated, and unified themes of study are connected across different subject areas and disciplines to instill a deeper understanding of concepts. In Grade 2, for instance, the central question in social studies is, “Why is the past important to me?” Students’ exploration of the past is incredibly motivating because it encompasses an on-site archeological dig (social studies), investigation and measurement of fossils (science and math), reading and writing of local legends (language arts), learning about their personal histories and presenting them to the class (research, writing, public speaking) and interviewing elders about their past (service learning).
- To truly develop global citizens, schools need to walk the talk. That’s why the Virtues Program at Willow is embedded into everything we do. Students learn to understand and live by virtues such as justice, courage, integrity, and compassion because they are modeled and practiced daily by their peers, as well as faculty, administrators, and staff. Our intention is that by Grade 8, students understand what it means to take full responsibility for their actions and statements and begin to experience personal integrity, the foundation for deeply satisfying and successful lives.
- Appreciation of the natural world is central to students developing into responsible, resilient young adults. That’s why a lot of learning takes place outdoors at Willow. When students study Willow’s unique water system (and can explain the intricate process to others) or the interdependent species on our 34-acre campus, they develop a keen understanding of the natural world and what it means to be a good steward. Willow consistently challenges students to take risks in their learning, test sustainable solutions for the environment and society, and to refine their approach based on what did or didn’t work. This fosters responsibility and a resilience that serves our graduates well in high school, college, and life.