Residential Life Curriculum

This summer Whitney Suttell, Dorm Head and Upper School History teacher, worked on synthesizing and creating a formal document intended for external audiences describing our residential life curriculum at Westtown School. What follows is her introduction to that synthesis.
-Dr. Margaret Haviland

Residential Life Curriculum Summer Work 2103
Whitney Suttell 

The origins of this project came in the fall of 2012 when I attended a listening session with the consultant Westtown School had hired to help with the Strategic Plan.  The consultant made the comment that she had seen our Residential Life Curriculum and thought that it could help persuade some families about the power of boarding if it were published to families.  I was part of the dorm heads group that worked on the original curriculum in 2007-2008 and ever since I have wanted to develop that document into a form which could reach a wider audience.  When I began this project, I realized that it was much more than just publishing what we do in our dorms and why.  It was also about explaining the boarding program, both how it works and why students and families find it so transformational.  I met with the Communications Department and the Admissions Office and those conversations helped me understand the content they most desired and the way to integrate language about boarding with Westtown’s overall message. 

Most of what I have done is collect and compile information from a variety of sources.  This is meant to be merely a start.  I hope that Admissions, Communications, and the Deans Office can use and adapt what it is here in a variety of ways.  I hope to continue to work on this document.  In particular, the parts about the actual curriculum need to continue to be fleshed out.  I was only able to include some of what goes on in the dorms.  I hope that as the Dorm Heads group further fleshes out the curriculum, the content here can be enhanced.  Furthermore, I think voices of young alums and parents of young alums are critical and powerful.  The sample of comments from them in my document is just a start of what could be a moving testimonial to our program.

I think this work is especially timely given the board’s adoption of the new boarding policy.  The school’s job now is to create and market the best experience possible for all Upper School students, boarding and day.  We have a great product for parents who want a boarding experience for their children and we shouldn’t be shy about selling it.  We also have a great product for 9th and 10th grade day students and will develop a great product for 11th and 12th grade day students.  The task for the school now is to articulate who is best suited for each program and to market each one as distinctive and collaborative parts of an overall dynamic and transformational Upper School program.  I hope that the committee charged with implementing the new boarding policy (which I am co-clerking) will also use the language and information in the document as part of our charge is to articulate and promote the value of the boarding program.

About Westtown School

Westtown School is a Pre-K through 12th grade Quaker, coed, college preparatory day and boarding school in West Chester, PA.
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One Response to Residential Life Curriculum

  1. Mayland Reilly says:

    I hope you found some of the testimonials from some older alumni to be helpful and possibly demonstrate themes or threads of truth that transcend time. There are 1000’s of stories on the Facebook page. Maybe you could be the ambassador that helps bring alumni back from feeling marginalized.

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