It has been a privilege to call Fredericksburg Academy my second home for more than 15 years, first as Athletic Director, then as Head of Middle School, and now as Head of School. I am proud to say that even as the school has grown over the years, we have remained true to our mission to nurture the potential of every student.
I hope you will visit our campus and see our incredible students and teachers in action! In the meantime, I would like to share with you an article on the intangible quality of "grit" that I wrote for one of our recent school newsletters:
I recently spent some time with my 2 ½-year-old niece and had the opportunity to witness her persistence and determination—first as she worked to fix a hula hoop that had been broken and second as she tried to put away some art supplies. My first instinct, as she struggled with the hula hoop, was to just fix it for her. As I reached down to help her, she pulled away from me and said, "I want to do it." After a few minutes of trying to get one end into the other, she finally succeeded and proudly stood up, proclaiming one of her favorite toys fixed. In the other instance, her stamp pads would not fit back into their box unless they were arranged in a particular order. Once again I watched and this time simply asked if I could help her. I was greeted with the 2-year-old's refrain of "I can do it myself." Not one to argue with a toddler, I watched as she tried different combinations until everything fit. She looked up at me with a big smile and exclaimed, "I did it!"
I like to think that these two instances prove that my niece possesses that essential quality of "grit". Grit is a word that is being thrown around quite a bit these days in education circles, particularly at the collegiate level. As admission committees look to differentiate students with similar GPAs and standardized test scores, they are also looking for ways to measure some of the intangible qualities that predict future success. Some universities are actually incorporating non-cognitive assessments into their evaluations of applicants. Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, through her research on achievement, has developed a "Grit Scale," which is piquing the interest of college admission offices around the country. The basis of Ms. Duckworth's research is that effort may have more to do with success than talent or ability. The thought is gaining more traction in college admission circles.
Colgate University recently listed the qualities/abilities that they are looking for in undergraduate applicants. Here are a few of the abilities that were posted:
• Ability to advocate for oneself
• Ability to handle surprises and the occasional obstacle
• Ability to communicate effectively with older adults (faculty)
• Ability to overcome a little disappointment and/or discomfort
• Ability to understand the value of effort even if it is not graded
• Ability to reflect and find time to "just think"
• Ability to connect academic work with things outside the classroom
As I read through the list I was thrilled to see characteristics that reflect FA's belief in creating independent learners. We aspire for each of our students to develop these traits through our rigorous academic program and rich co-curricular activities. Through hands-on experiences in the classroom where trial and error are practiced, students learn to tackle difficult concepts in a safe environment. On the fields and on the courts, students learn to work through frustration and let-downs. On the stage they push themselves beyond their comfort levels and tap into artistic talents that would have gone undiscovered without the encouragement of friends and teachers. We are committed to creating student experiences that instill not only a solid foundation for academic success but also the "true grit" needed for success in life.
Read more about grit: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/10/how-important-is-grit-in-student-achievement/