Learning to Use Their Minds Well


A Note From the Academic Dean

The 2018-2019 school year marked my first as the Academic Dean at The New School, a challenge I relished taking on because of how much time I spend thinking about and valuing the creative work of my colleagues and the development of our students. The best part of the gig is sharing the course catalog with new students and their families: inevitably a parent exclaims that they wish they could take our classes, and the student energy around the freedom to choose is consistently rejuvenating.

Our classes, of course, are the heart of what we do at The New School, but they are not separate from the other elements of our community that we prize. The six Essential Skills, for instance, which are featured through our annual portfolio process, crop up constantly in the work we do in the classroom, whether it’s recognizing our Social & Global Responsibility in class discussion and collaborative assignments, or collectively practicing the art of Information Literacy through our quarter two scholarly papers. Likewise, the concept of exhibiting our work and ideas to others, which is baked into our graduation requirements for seniors, is reinforced in all of our morning modules and in other classes beyond. Not to mention, academics at The New School are not confined to the walls of the classroom: field trips to the Supreme Court, all school events like Science Fest, the sustainability efforts at the school such as composting and gardening championed through Diana’s science classes, and our student exchange program with Germany are just a few examples of the way our beliefs about learning affect the fabric of our community.

Fundamentally, our hope and expectation for our graduates is that they feel they have learned to use their minds well. To me, the operative word in our school motto is “use”: it’s not just about the course content or the assignments teachers prepare, it’s also about student ability to apply and extend the ideas they are engaging with. Our ability at The New School to make the student’s role in their own education paramount is what motivates me in my work as the Academic Dean and gets me fired up for each new year.

Jenny Fey
English & Social Studies Teacher
Academic Dean

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