Every student needs more this year

If you have concerns about your child catching up or measuring up after COVID last year, you aren’t alone. At Waynflete, we meet every child where they are, and we know every child needs all the face-to-face interaction and support we can give.

Schools across Maine are making decisions on how to best bring back students for a successful school year. At Waynflete, we are doing what we have always done: more. More challenging, engaging, hands-on learning in small classes. More individual attention and personalized instruction from trusted teachers. And more time to connect, safely and in person, with friends.

“Waynflete was able to offer in-person learning all last year through Grade 6 and for all grades by spring 2021 because so many of the precautions needed to keep kids safe and supported—like small, close-knit classes, personalized instruction from teachers, and outdoor experiences—were already part of how we teach,” explains Geoff Wagg, Head of School. “I am so proud of how our faculty, staff, and students kept up with our challenging curriculum and kept a strong sense of community throughout the pandemic. It took more hard work and ingenuity from everyone to make it happen—and it was worth it.”

Anne Hopkins, Lower School Director, agrees. “At some point during all the uncertainty of COVID, I realized that what we were doing wasn’t really new to Waynflete. We focused on our fundamentals, and it worked.”

Seeing the Whole Child

Waynflete has heard from many parents worried their child has fallen behind because of school closures, remote learning, or quarantines. We tell them not to worry: Waynflete can work with students who are motivated, engaged, curious, and eager to learn. We meet children where they are, right now, and work closely with them to get where they need to be. 

“We are hearing a lot of concern about so-called ‘lost years,’” Anne affirms. “And I tell parents Waynflete will find the right way forward. Wherever a student is in their development, that’s where we will start.”

The blended classrooms in Early Childhood and Lower School support this holistic approach. The two-year age range means children are always surrounded by friends working at their growth edges. “Seeing everyone progress at a different rate is more reassuring,” Anne explains. “And seeing the collective effort everyone is making to master new skills is more inspiring.”

“I think we are also able to offer more understanding,” adds Divya Muralidhara, Middle School Director. “More awareness of what different students have experienced through this pandemic—disruptions and stress at home, anxiety about vulnerable family members, social isolation, or academic disconnection. We are not just looking at where a child is…we want to understand why. And this is a community where students can be recognized for who they are and what they have overcome.”

Small Class Sizes

Waynflete knows that some students did better last year because social distancing forced their schools to offer smaller classes last year. And once you have seen how a small class can support all kinds of learners, it can be hard to go back to larger classrooms.

“If you watched your child thrive in a small pod and you are worried about returning to large class sizes, we understand,” says Divya. “Smaller classrooms are absolutely essential to the way we teach at Waynflete. We make sure our teachers have the time to work with all their students one-on-one and design learning experiences around their strengths and interests.”

“We are talking to parents anxious about reintroducing their children to a classroom environment after a year of homeschooling or remote learning,” adds Anne. “I tell them not to worry—these small classes offer really warm welcomes. Students can spend time connecting with classmates and strengthening social-emotional skills while still receiving the individual attention they had at home.”

Personalized Instruction

We have some of the smallest class sizes in the region to support the most powerful element of a Waynflete education: personalized learning. If your child felt lost or left behind during online classes, they will feel seen and supported at Waynflete.

Our teachers are given lots of time to truly get to know their students and the resources to design experiential learning experiences around their strengths and interests. This approach built trust between students and teachers, closed the distance during periods of remote learning, and kept students engaged with their classes and in close contact with their instructors.

“When you can spend more time working with students, they make more progress,” Divya explains. “When concepts, lessons, and projects are configured around their needs and aptitudes, they get it faster and want to go further.”

Having everyone together on campus amplifies that energy. At Waynflete, our students know they will struggle sometimes to overcome challenges or reach goals. They also know they will always have personalized support.

Diversity and Community

COVID was not the only challenge students of all ages grappled with last year. The protests, reckoning, and reflection sparked by racist incidents across our country were felt right here in Maine. Waynflete teachers processed these agonizing events with students in thoughtful and age-appropriate ways and recommitted to doing the hard work of building and sustaining our diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.

“Making Waynflete work for everybody is what we do,” says Lowell Libby, former Upper School Director. “We are proud of the diversity in our classrooms and we have had some difficult and necessary conversations with students, families, and each other about better seeing and supporting everyone at our school.”

The Waynflete curriculum explores complex subjects through many different lenses and draws upon a wide range of cultural traditions and influences. Our small, diverse classes offer many different life experiences and perspectives and honor all voices. Several school-sponsored and student-led initiatives, like The Can We? Project, the New England Youth Identity Summit, and the Perspective Project are providing forums for students to work through key issues of identity and community.

“Waynflete has always seen diversity as an essential component of excellence,” Lowell says. “And this year, we are doing even more to fulfill our mission.” 

Joy

The last two years have been heavy ones and even young children have felt the weight. Lifting it has been a focus across all Waynflete divisions. Prospective parents who have seen their children struggle socially or emotionally because of remote schooling or lack of social connection should know that Waynflete takes social-emotional development very seriously. We work very hard to make sure that Waynflete is a place where students want to be.

“We are big believers in the power of play,” Anne says. “Play is how children learn—and learn to love school.”

“Middle School has always started the year with a week of community building activities that take students out of the classroom and into the community to play, explore, and just bond with each other,” adds Divya. “The fun we have during those first few days is the foundation we build upon in class.”

“One of my favorite experiences as a teacher is watching a serious classroom discussion suddenly break into laughter,” says Lowell Libby. “You can feel how comfortable students are with each other and themselves and with big, complex ideas when something like that happens. And at Waynflete, it happens a lot.”

Waynflete offers challenging, engaging, hands-on learning in small classes. More individual attention and personalized instruction from trusted teachers. And more time to connect with a diverse group of friends. If you are looking for more for your child this year, take a look at Waynflete. To learn more, contact our Admission department by email or at 207.274.5224.

207.774.5721 | 360 Spring Street, Portland, Maine | Directions | My Waynflete