A Story Exchange: Colum McCann Meets Waynflete

Last week the Irish-American author Colum McCann came to Portland on a mission. He wanted to tell the story of Narrative 4, an organization of which he is a co-founder and president. Narrative 4 is an organization of authors and artists dedicated to mending our social fabric through cultivating “fearless hope” and “radical empathy” in youth. Colum also came to hear the story of Waynflete, because of what he had been told about the school.  

Colum held a public talk in Franklin Theater in the evening, in which he read from several of his novels, including his most recent one that is just now heading to publication, and discussed Narrative 4. Narrative 4 had sent an advanced team to train 27 upper school students as facilitators of their signature activity, the story exchange. In his talk, Colum referred to Waynflete as a “visionary school” for our work promoting dialogue as an essential skill and mindset, which he saw as well aligned with the goals of Narrative 4. Continue reading “A Story Exchange: Colum McCann Meets Waynflete”



The heart of learning at Waynflete

Last week, the New York Times published an article by David Brooks entitled “Students Learn from the People They Love.” A Waynflete parent shared it with her children’s teachers, with a kind note of acknowledgement. The article quickly went viral among Waynflete’s faculty and staff. Brooks’s piece affirms what so many of us appreciate about Waynflete and what makes the school unique: the relationships. Teachers and students “learning to learn, side by side.”

It has been such a pleasure for me to give tours of the new Lower School this year. Prospective families appreciate the beautiful space as much as we all do! Seeing students and teachers in action in purposefully designed classrooms allows parents who are considering Waynflete to see how their children will spend their time: exploring, playing, questioning, connecting, thinking, and learning in relationship with the materials, the space, the teachers, and one another.

But the magic of Waynflete is not about the buildings. The magic is about the relationships.

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Snowballs, PJs, and the three branches: the art and science of an emergent curriculum

The phrase “I’m Just a Bill” will likely bring back memories for many Generation-Xers and late Boomers. Now with children of their own, today’s parents might be surprised to discover that the classic “Schoolhouse Rock!” feature hasn’t gone out of style. The lo-fi graphics—coupled with just the right amount of pratfall—still resonate with today’s Minecraft generation.

“I’m Just a Bill” helped kick off a recent exploration of participatory democracy in Waynflete’s 4-5 program. With the November midterm elections in the news, students examined the inner workings of the three branches of government and how senators, representatives, and the president pass laws. Typical of Waynflete’s hands-on approach to learning, each of the program’s home stations transformed into a committee to debate how to make 4-5 a better place for its “citizens.” Students brainstormed possibilities, selected one cause to work up as a bill, then wrote proposals to share at a community meeting of the entire 4-5 program.

Continue reading “Snowballs, PJs, and the three branches: the art and science of an emergent curriculum”


The special sauce

At the most recent meeting of the Upper School team, I asked each advisor to tell a brief story that illustrates their happiest moment at work over the past two weeks since the start of the new year. When it came to my turn, I could honestly say that my favorite moment had just happened—listening to their stories. Those stories clearly illustrated the truth of what one advisor had said, which is that “the special sauce of Waynflete is alive and well.”

Based on those stories, the sauce ingredients include:

Continue reading “The special sauce”