Defining Student Success


So we’ve been meeting as a small group over the past few weeks trying to prepare for our upcoming, “Journey Towards Inclusion” faculty meeting on December 11th, and it’s been super interesting. One of the discussion points that has stayed with me (and really got me thinking) revolves around the idea of student success, and what “success” truly looks like for our kids. It’s been heartwarming for me to listen to educators at our school, across divisions and departments, who are wanting to find ways to celebrate students in so many ways beyond just academic achievement. Academic success is only one small part of what makes up a successful student, and it’s exciting to be thinking of ways to bring that message to life for our community in the upcoming months.


You see, over the past few weeks I have watched our students succeed in sports, on the stage as they prepare for this week’s Pirates of Penznace, in musical theater club and our many other after school activities, with their service learning initiatives like the successful student store and the newly formed student leadership council, and with the showcasing of their learning and growth through Seesaw and in their daily classroom experiences. All in all, hundreds of young people succeeding in so many different ways, and growing so immeasurably in areas both inside and outside of the classroom. I guess for me, the idea or definition or measure of success cannot be simplified down to a single thing, like academic achievement for example…it incorporates so many things and so many aspects of a young person’s life.


I think we need to be careful as adults and educators not to place too much of a priority on any one aspect of a student’s success, and look to develop and celebrate the areas where a student is showing success in all aspects of their lives. Kids, as you all know, go through various stages of maturation and development, and a student’s “time” may not be in Lower School, or Middle School, or High School, or University for that matter. It’s no secret to the people who really know me that I was very much a late bloomer when it came to academic success, but I found success socially and on the athletic field when I was young, which set me up for the person that I’ve eventually become.


The true measure of success in my opinion, is whether or not a student is growing and learning and taking steps to find their passions. Is a student getting better academically, socially, as a leader, as a teammate, as a friend, as a person? Are they being empathetic and embracing what it means to be inclusive? Are they learning from their mistakes and growing as young people, and are they showing grit and perseverance? If so, then ultimately we’re doing our jobs as adult mentors, and a priority for us is to continue to find ways to celebrate these successes with each individual student as often as we can. A big part of me believes that the most powerful learning that happens with our kids happens outside of the classroom…the learning that makes them better people, not just better students.

Look at our students this week everyone, and measure them against themselves…not their peers, or someone else’s packaged idea of success, and celebrate them. Think about this when you’re writing your comments in the upcoming weeks too, thinking about the areas in a child’s life where they are truly being successful. We have work to do around reporting out a more well rounded, all encompassing commentary on our kids I know…a report that celebrates not only academic achievement but an in depth snapshot of a young person as a whole child…that work will be fun and I can’t wait to get going!  What does a successful child really look like to you? Think about it before we get together on the 11th. Anyway, have a wonderful week with our kids everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.


Quote of the Week…

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful 

– Herman Cain


The Definition of Success – 

The Accomplishment of an Aim or Purpose


TED Talks –

The Beauty of Being a Misfit

One True Calling?


Great Articles –

What Does Success Look Like?

How Do We Define Success?

Who is Defining Student Success?

Grades are NOT Paramount to Achievement 

How to Measure Success

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