Critical thinking, effective communication, creative economy, and collaboration… these facets form the foundation of educational philosophy at Gilman School. The independent K-12 school for boys has made it their mission to educate boys in mind, body, and spirit. But preparing these young men for success in an increasingly global society means more than just giving them the skills.
It’s about helping them understand how to thrive.
Gilman educators know that what their students learn in the classroom directly impacts their lives and activities outside of the classroom. But the students play a leading role in creating a successful learning environment. The school embraces the notion that each student brings a unique set of gifts to the table that enrich the educational experience for everyone.
Over the last three years, Bartley Griffith, Jr., Assistant Head of School, has lead a group of Gilman K-12 educators in evaluating the school’s curriculum and instruction to identify what skills most matter to boys and the world that they are going to inherit. Through that initiative, the school has identified four skill sets that they believe are critical for their students to master in order to be successful:
Critical Thinking. Critical thinking has always been a cornerstone of curriculum at Gilman; but the concept has been expanded to understand why and how critical thinking matters in an increasingly complex world.
Effective Communication. Specifically, the school aims to prepare students for developing effective communication across lines of difference, so that their students know how to communicate with diverse audiences. “Our society is becoming increasingly globalized,” said Bart. “Students need to have practice communicating both on campus and beyond. We need them to be active listeners but also understand how cultural backgrounds impact language, understanding, and communication.”
Creative Economy. “According to the futurists, the 20th Century was kind to analysts, but the 21st century will go to the creatives,” said Mr. Griffith. Gilman wants their students to be able to create works that fulfill them and inspire others, but are also of use; to possess the skills to design for aesthetics and utility.
Collaborative Problem Solving. Workplaces now — and in the future — look different than the workplaces where students’ parents or grandparents worked. Gilman aims to teach their students how to work collaboratively to solve global problems. For kindergartners, it might be looking at how to reduce the bottlenecks in the lunch line. For seniors, it might be tackling more complicated socio-economic issues in the city.
Developing these skills are critical for positioning students for success. But skills alone are not enough. A primary educational goal for Gilman faculty is to help their students to understand “how they fit” into an increasingly global society.
Community, Inclusion, and Equity aren’t just buzz words used within their walls. Mr. Johnnie Foreman, makes it his daily mission to see that all students feel like a part of the community, and find success. As Director of Community, Inclusion, and Equity, Mr. Foreman works with parents, students, and the surrounding community to create and support programs that enrich the lives of everyone involved.
“When students enter our school, we want to make sure that they are able to find their way. Through our mentorship program, we pair upper school students with middle school students who may need a little extra support academically or socially. The mentors and mentees spend time together both in and out of school, and it gives that young person someone to talk to, to go to events, to rely on. Families are encouraged to attend events together to support the young men, and once the mentee reaches high school, they become the mentor. It all comes full circle for the good of the community,” shared Mr. Foreman.
Gilman encourages students to be a part of community outreach initiatives such as the BRIDGES program that provides after school tutoring to neighboring youth or GBALI- Gilman Black Alumni Leadership Institute, which provides extensive opportunities to promising young leaders. Gilman’s annual Cultural Arts Festival highlights the many cultures that make up the Gilman community. (Can you believe that they currently have more than 23 cultures represented to date?)
In addition to reaching out, students, faculty and parents also help students to identify and be proud of their cultural identities within their walls through their Student and Parent Affinity Groups. Affinity groups are for everyone to attend, and allow students and their families to raise awareness, provide information to the community, and make the school an inclusive environment.
With well-researched curriculum, dedicated faculty and staff, a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and extensive support for students of all backgrounds, young men at Gilman School are afforded the opportunity to grow, and give back in many different ways.
This article is sponsored by Gilman School as part of our Cool School Partners series. Read more about Gilman School in our Independent Schools Directory or call them at 410-323-7284. Photos provided by Gilman School.