Head of School Newsletter

Dear JHCS Families and Friends,

As educators of adolescents, we at The Community School are engaged in providing outstanding opportunities for learning, while also keeping the health and safety of our students very much in mind. To do all of this well, we take advantage of the research and ideas of experts, and I would like to pass some of their knowledge on to you. 

First, a recent study on teaching and learning conducted at Harvard University sheds light on the results of what educators call “active learning.” Active learning typically features hands-on, problem solving, or project-based activities requiring students to discover conclusions themselves (with guidance), while passive learning entails being provided with information or conclusions from the start. For many years, educational experts have known that students learn more when they learn actively. Many published studies, dating back to 1998, demonstrate this. However, when students are asked about what they prefer, they frequently say they like passive learning better, and they often report that they learn less from active learning. In the Harvard study, while the majority of the subjects felt as if they learned more from passive methods, they in fact scored higher on tests following active learning experiences. Thus, according to the study’s authors, “Actual learning and feeling of learning were strongly anti-correlated.” Luckily for teachers and parents, this anti-correlation usually diminishes as students adjust to active learning methodologies. Here at The Community School, teachers utilize many pedagogical approaches, including active learning, as we prepare our students for college and life beyond.

In the realm of health and wellbeing, two articles have recently come to our attention as extremely relevant to our students’ lives. First, as families and schools struggle with the hold that vaping seems to have on American teenagers today, I recommend this article, which provides help on how to discuss this difficult topic with your child. Another challenging area for educators and parents is the high level of stress and anxiety in young people. Lisa Damour, the author of Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls, wrote this article on a similar topic in the New York Times last fall. It reminds us of the necessary role stress plays in growing and learning, not only in school but also in life.

Lastly, we are excited to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Jackson Hole Community School this year! Please remember to support The School by giving to the Annual Fund. The Annual Fund Drive runs until Dec. 31st, and your participation is very important to our success. And on January 16th, 2020, we’ll celebrate a successful Fund Drive AND the anniversary of JHCS at our 15th Anniversary Party! Please join us!

Best wishes,