Brimmer and May School has been designated a “Model School” by The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). A total of eight schools in the United States and abroad were selected based on their ongoing efforts to successfully adopt seven “Essential Capacities for the 21st Century.”
The Essentials initiative is the end-product of the NAIS Commission on Accreditation’s Committee on Schools for the Future. As stated in the NAIS Report, A 21st Century Imperative—A Guide to Becoming a School of the Future, the Essentials initiative “seeks to ensure that the graduates of independent schools will be prepared for college, work, and citizenship with the knowledge and capacities necessary to lead productive and purposeful lives in an uncertain and ever-changing future.” (pg. 14-15)
The NAIS stated goal is to provide guidelines that “will encourage exploration, innovation and transformation within each school in a manner that is consistent with the school’s mission and the needs of its students.” (pg 15) The Committee’s recommendations and guidelines may be one of the most important education initiatives of 21st century based on the breadth and depth of their work.
As part of their overall recommendations, the Committee identified eight unifying themes that comprise ‘Essential Capacities for the 21st Century and which independent schools should work to adopt:
1. Academically Demanding
2. Project-based Learning
3. Classrooms that Extend Beyond School Walls
4. Digital Technologies and a Global Perspective that Infuse the Program
5. Vibrant Arts Programs
6. Learning Communities
7. A Culture of Engagement and Support
8. Transformational leadership
Each theme carries with it a number of specific action areas that the Committee believes will become increasingly critical in preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s global challenges. Their work draws on expertise both within the NAIS and among noted educators and thought leaders. They acknowledge that deciding to adopt the ‘Essential Capacities’ will not happen overnight for most schools. Rather, it will require a transformation over time.
The Guide to Becoming a School of the Future states that Brimmer and May’s “. . . curriculum features a global focus that balances traditional academic subjects and rigor with innovative practices, experiential learning, and project-based learning. . . .The school’s current statements of mission, philosophy, and core principles . . . permeate everything that the school does and read like a primer of the 21st century education.” (p. 18)
Tony Wagner, noted Harvard Education thought leader and author of the Global Achievement Gap, whose work is focused on in the Report, added, “Sustained and visionary leadership has kept Brimmer and May in the forefront of educational research and development in America. This is a wonderful acknowledgement of nearly a quarter century of hard work by many dedicated teachers and administrators. Brimmer and May as one of the early movers in this effort does not surprise me; they have been thinking toward the future for a number of years. They’re not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and it is really beginning to pay off.”
The National Association of Independent Schools is a membership organization and the national voice of independent education. NAIS represents approximately 1,400 independent schools and associations in the United States, and affiliates with independent schools abroad. See http://www.nais.org/