Dwight School Emphasizes Personalized Learning

Name of school: Dwight School

Grades: Preschool to 12th grade

Size of student body: Nearly 900 students

Educational approach or philosophy: By focusing on personalized learning and instruction, the school helps students find and develop their unique passions, which builds self-confidence and helps in all other areas of their learning. “We call this igniting the spark of genius in every child,” says Head of School Dianne Drew. “Dwight embraces the individuality of each student and crafts a personalized educational journey for every student based on his or her unique interests and passions. Our faculty empower students to believe in their own talents, take intellectual risks, and pursue whatever captures their minds, spirits, bodies, and imaginations. No matter the undertaking, we encourage students to pursue excellence in all their endeavors. We’ve matched this approach with the International Baccalaureate, an academically challenging curriculum that encourages students to explore their own interests. The IB is inquiry-based and students’ curiosity helps to guide their learning from an early age, making it a perfect fit for Dwight’s mission and philosophy.”

What makes the school unique: Dwight is the first school in the Americas to offer the comprehensive IB curriculum for students in preschool through 12th grade. The IB enables students to look at ideas and issues over time, emphasizing their interconnected nature and global contexts. It also emphasizes research, writing, problem solving, and critical-thinking skills, rather than teaching for exams. 

A unique Dwight program is Spark Tank, an incubator launched in 2015 designed to nurture student innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills beyond the classroom. Students can develop their ideas for new businesses, nonprofit organizations, and products with guidance and mentorship from industry experts drawn from Dwight’s parent community. Students can also receive innovation grants from The Dwight School Foundation to help them take their projects from concept to market launch.

“We believe that the next ‘big ideas’ will come from the under-18 sector. Spark Tank provides students with real-life experiences and essential skills beyond academics and theory, so they can pursue their dreams now rather than at some uncertain time in the future,” says Dwight Chancellor Stephen Spahn, who is celebrating 50 years in education at Dwight and is the longest-serving head of school in the U.S., according to Dwight School. “Spark Tank entrepreneurs have inspired all of us with their ingenuity. They have produced new apps, clothing lines, health-related devices and prosthetics, and have designed business and nonprofit models to help make the world a better place. As many jobs of the future have yet to be created, we’re delighted to offer students the ability to create their own start-ups and business enterprises before they go to college.”

Dwight in New York is the flagship campus of a global network with campuses in London, Seoul, Shanghai, and Dubai. Students reap benefits from being part of this family of schools, ranging from cultural exchange programs beginning in fifth grade to cross-campus creative collaborations. A highlight of the year is the global concert at Carnegie Hall, in which students come together to perform in the iconic Stern Auditorium. Through these experiences, students forge friendships with peers around the world, broaden their perspectives, and learn how to become global leaders. Joining them are students in the Dwight Global Online School, Dwight’s “campus in the cloud,” offering personalized education to students wherever they are.

Located across from Central Park, Dwight is expanding with the recent acquisition of a brownstone at 21 W. 88th St.. The new building, slated to open in September 2018, will feature state-of-the-art spaces in which Dwight will launch new educational programs designed to enrich personalized learning, promote wellness, nurture innovation, and inspire student creativity.

Dwight School is located at 291 Central Park West, on the Upper West Side. For more information, call 212-724-6360 or visit dwight.edu.

Main image: Dwight School teaches 17 languages, including Mandarin. Courtesy Dwight School


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