Vision

“I am proud that Loomis is also a place where diversity of all types is championed within a welcoming community that encourages students to find their passions and live with purpose”

Sheila Culbert, head of school

Sheila Culbert

Sheila Culbert, Head of School

Dear Prospective Students and Families,

Thank you for your interest in Loomis Chaffee. Chartered in 1874 and opened in 1914, The Loomis Institute was the vision of five Loomis siblings whose children all predeceased them. From that tragedy they built a school for other people’s children — a progressive and egalitarian institution where students from all socioeconomic backgrounds receive an exceptional education with particular attention to global citizenship, personal growth, and individual excellence. I am proud that Loomis is also a place where diversity of all types is championed within a welcoming community that encourages students to find their passions and live with purpose.

When I meet prospective students and their families, I am often asked about topics such as student learning, great teaching, and the responsibility of schools to teach students how to be good citizens. I address those topics below as a way to introduce you to the mission and philosophy of Loomis Chaffee. I hope you find this introduction helpful, and that you will be inspired to learn more and visit us soon.

Sincerely,

Sheila Culbert
Head of School

 


 

Loomis students in class

Reflections on Student Learning

One of the most interesting developments over the last 10 to 20 years is all the neuroscience research that has focused on questions about how children learn. As teachers, this information is invaluable. Understanding how children’s brains develop allows us to check our assumptions and adapt our pedagogy accordingly. We know, for example, that children learn better when they’re actively engaged in their own learning.

During this same time period, access to content, once the purview of teachers standing in front of classrooms, changed dramatically. Content is now so easily available to our students that many times they can come up with the correct answer just as quickly as our faculty can. 

At Loomis, we believe that teaching and learning are not about the transaction of imparting and receiving knowledge, rather teaching and learning are about faculty’s facilitating opportunities for students to develop critical thinking skills, to exercise their creativity, and to innovate; having students work together to identify problems worth solving and solving them.

One example of this philosophy at work is the use of a “flipped classroom” model by Loomis science teachers Erica Gerace, Scott MacClintic ’82, and Naomi Appel. Rather than spend valuable class time presenting content, they share new content through video lectures that students watch for homework, which frees up class time for students to ask more questions, to engage in more discussions, and to problem-solve together. Several years of practice with these flipped classrooms has shown that students learn more effectively than when the teachers used class time to present the majority of new content.

It’s so clear to me what neuroscience brings to the classroom, and at Loomis we are very effective at using that knowledge to make our classrooms interesting, engaging, and fun places for our students to learn.

At Loomis, we believe that teaching and learning are not about the transaction of imparting and receiving knowledge, rather teaching and learning are about faculty’s facilitating opportunities for students to develop critical thinking skills, to exercise their creativity, and to innovate; having students work together to identify problems worth solving and solving them.

 

Teachers in Conversation: Flipped Classroom

 

 

Teaching in the Pearse Hub for Innovation

Reflections on Nurturing Great Teachers 

One of the most important responsibilities I have as head of school is to make sure that we hire talented and caring faculty and provide them with the resources and professional development they need to facilitate our students’ learning. 

At Loomis we make sure our faculty are well-versed in their content areas and are engaged in ongoing conversations about learning, teaching, problem-solving, and collaborating — the same types of conversations we ask our students to have. 

Teaching in a science lab

We facilitate these types of conversations in many ways. Several years ago, we restructured our weekly calendar to include dedicated professional development time every Thursday morning. Loomis’ Henry R. Kravis ’63 Center for Excellence in Teaching sponsors workshops during those times and leads Loomis’ efforts to encourage a culture of excellence and innovation among our faculty. The center sponsors “Open Classroom Weeks” each term, a time when teaching colleagues visit each other’s classes, share feedback, help address specific issues, and collect new ideas to bring back to their own classrooms. The center also works with departments and teachers one-on-one on areas of interest and/or concern. 

It is important to note that the new and effective ideas don’t come from just the Kravis Center or our most experienced faculty. Our younger faculty bring many exciting ideas to the conversation. We find that among our faculty, as with our students in the classrooms, learning and innovation are collaborative enterprises and that new ideas come from every direction.

At Loomis we make sure our faculty are well-versed in their content areas and are engaged in ongoing conversations about learning, teaching, problem-solving, and collaborating — the same types of conversations we ask our students to have. 

Freshmen Orientation

Reflections on the Arts and Duties of Citizenship 

I do not think that you can have an outstanding education while ignoring the moral development of your students. Our first headmaster, Nathaniel Batchelder, set the tone at Loomis when he emphasized the importance of understanding the arts and duties of citizenship, and he saw it as our responsibility to teach those values to students.

As a school we continue to emphasize responsible citizenship. If you receive the excellent education that we provide here, I think you have an obligation to the broader society. And schools like ours have a public responsibility to graduate ethical, good citizens.

Loomis students at the Hartford Climate Strike

Everything we do at Loomis supports this idea. Good citizenship is part of the culture we encourage in the classroom, in the dormitory, in the dining hall. It is the reason that every student has a job on campus to contribute to the functioning of the school community. It is the basis for our teaching students how to engage in civil discourse and how to disagree in a respectful manner. Mr. Batchelder talked about Loomis’ being a place where it is easy to be good and to be kind. We have always strived to be such a place, to nurture the values of goodness and kindness in our students and in our community. We practice these values, and hopefully our graduates carry them throughout their lives.

We are a college preparatory school. We prepare our students to thrive in college and to succeed in their chosen professions. But just as importantly, we prepare our students to be persons to be reckoned with. We want them to stand up for what’s right and what’s good. We want them to find purpose in their lives and through that purpose serve the common good. We are a society that depends on good citizenship, and it’s our job to encourage it.

As a school we continue to emphasize responsible citizenship. If you receive the excellent education that we provide here, I think you have an obligation to the broader society. And schools like ours have a public responsibility to graduate ethical, good citizens.

 

Hartford Youth Climate Strike



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