At St. Paul’s Lower School, learning is an adventure — and they are putting students in the navigation seat next to their teachers as co-pilots. If they need a little more time with the teacher to master a skill or want to delve deeper into a subject matter because it excites them, St. Paul’s educators are making sure they get exactly what they need through the W.I.N. program.

What does W.I.N. stand for? “Whatever I need.” The program provides dedicated time during the school day for all students to receive enrichment or small group support that doesn’t interfere with core classes. Every day, teachers and learning specialists have an opportunity to offer personalized instruction tailored to a student’s interests and skill level. The result? Students are empowered to take risks and grow as learners, while teachers have ongoing professional development and time for reflection.

The program started last school year and was the brainchild of lower school reading specialist Kara Horst. Horst heard about a similar program while attending a Reading Workshop conference at Teachers College at Columbia University and excitedly shared the idea with the rest of the team. Math specialist, Susan Faint, enthusiastically agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and the idea quickly gained support from Lower School administrators.

Beginning in fall 2018, the school instituted a schedule that provided each grade with a daily 30-minute block of time dedicated to W.I.N. The daily schedule was then integrated into the Lower School’s six-day rotation. Days 1 through 5 are used to provide W.I.N. instruction. On Day 6, grade level teams meet to discuss how to best support each student during W.I.N. time. Regular meetings, evaluation, and reflection ensure students get exactly the support or enrichment they need to move to the next level.

“Every day is a new and exciting adventure in the W.I.N. program, because we are constantly tailoring our instruction to our students’ needs and interests,” said Mrs. Horst.
Students are selected for small group intervention or enrichment opportunities during W.I.N. based on multiple measures, including reading/math screenings, teacher observations, student interests, and benchmark data. During W.I.N., students work intensively with classroom teachers and intervention teachers during 30-minute lessons. The sessions focus on the specific skills each group needs to be successful learners, and require a cohesive, creative partnership between the classroom teachers and reading/math specialists.

St. Paul's School W.I.N. Program

If you came to St. Paul’s during W.I.N. time, you would see small groups of students engaged in hands-on lessons based on student needs. You may see students exploring math concepts with manipulatives and working collaboratively to problem solve while playing targeted math games. Students may be working to build critical thinking skills or exploring phonics skills using a multisensory approach. Or students may be working in a small group to grow their leadership skills, explore problem based learning opportunities, and practice mindfulness. The possibilities are endless!

Since beginning the W.I.N. program, both Mrs. Faint and Mrs. Horst have noticed that their students have more confidence and are thriving.

“One of the most rewarding opportunities for me, was watching a student I taught in second grade grow and become a confident mathematician in fourth grade, due to having this dedicated small group time,” said Mrs. Faint. “W.I.N. provided her with the extra time she needed to take risks and ask questions in a loving and nurturing environment. It was such a joy to see her thrive and enter our Middle School with a positive growth mindset about herself as a learner. She used W.I.N. time to choose her own math adventure.”

What are St. Paul’s educators learning from the W.I.N. program? When instruction is individually tailored, students are empowered and excited — creating a learning environment where everyone WINS!

To learn more about St. Paul’s Lower School and their W.I.N. program, visit their website

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our School Spotlight Series. Each week, we will spotlight one of our partner schools to give you a glimpse into what learning looks like on their campus. To learn more about The St. Paul’s Schools, visit their directory listing in our Independent School Directory. Want to become a school partner? Email us.