Most schools have missions, but few live them as fully and deeply as Westtown does. We’re a school that shapes students who have a disproportionately large impact on the world. Our new strategic plan places this ambition front and center. Its vision statement reads:
The world’s needs are profound, and Westtown must faithfully embrace its identity as a school of urgency and impact. We will become a recognized leader in developing the next generation of globally engaged, scientifically literate, spiritually guided, and ethically grounded leaders and stewards of a better world.
Our teachers embrace this mission as their own. They’re focused on crafting educational experiences that honor each individual student’s gifts and widen his or her perspective on the world.
Westtown is a pre-K through 12, Quaker, day and boarding, college-prep school, which means we have a very active and vibrant community. Our teachers are innovative, collaborative, and student-centered. They’re willing to experiment and fail forward. Westtown teachers are facilitators of learning rather than sages on the stage.
While we launch students into some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world, we approach academic excellence from a different angle. We want our students to care and to act, not simply to score well on tests. We dropped the Advanced Placement designations in 2007 and have developed our own distinctive approach, which we call The Action-Based Education.
Westtown’s Action-Based Education puts action at the center of the student experience and is designed to activate kids’ passion, curiosity, and social awareness. This approach is part of our long history of producing changemakers. We’re a Quaker school after all, and if you know anything about Quakers, you know that Quakers take action. They demand change. They seek justice. They find ways to live lives of success and meaning.
The Action-Based Education stands in stark contrast to the traditional model in which students passively consume knowledge and teachers craft external and artificial significance for the students. This approach shares many of the same goals and forms as Project-Based Learning, including the aims for “students [to] gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.” The Action-Based
Education extends this model by focusing on student activation and wider impact.
As we craft a faculty who embrace this model of teaching, we also support them in their professional and personal lives.
Ways we support teachers new to Westtown:
- Every teacher has a mentor for their first year and their second year of teaching at Westtown
- All first and second year teachers can expect to receive growth oriented feedback from supervisors several times over the course of the year
- Every teacher has a peer coach in their third year
- From year four and every fourth year thereafter, teachers are evaluated using a 360 process of peer and administrative feedback, self -reflection, and data
- We have a generous professional development budget to cover professional memberships, national and regional conferences and workshops
- Robust technology support includes school-provided devices
- Ten full and partial days are set aside for in-service professional growth
- We provide a New Teacher Seminar for those brand new to teaching. It’s a year-long seminar that meets every other week
Westtown also values, prioritizes and supports diversity in our students and faculty in a variety of ways, including:
- Sending all new faculty to the New Educator Institute run by the Multicultural Resource Centerof the Philadelphia Independent Schools
- Supporting faculty to attend the NAIS People of Color Conference.
- Sending faculty to other diversity related conferences such as the Race Institute
- Supporting a Faculty of Color group that periodically meets with key administrators
Teaching at Westtown is a professional and personal highlight for many teachers. We seek educators who can contribute to and benefit from this community that puts students first and that seeks to be a school that contributes to a better world.
Sitting on 600-acres in West Chester, PA, Westtown has the feel and look of a bucolic retreat with the bustling college-town of West Chester just two miles away and Philadelphia a mere 25 miles to the east.