Dear Powhatan Parents,

The winter months are the time of year for visits to campus by prospective families interested in sending their children to Powhatan. I spend a good part of my time sharing with them what drew me to Powhatan, my perspectives on our campus learning environment and reflecting upon teaching the skills and values the twenty-first century will require and value. I thought I would take a few moments to share these same thoughts with you, our current parents, and highlight how they are affecting the learning that your children experience each day here at Powhatan.

Volume of content was the hallmark of school rigor in the twentieth century. Paper and pencil tasks were the predominant measure of mastery and classwork consisted of drill, repetition, and fact memorization. Little emphasis was placed on the process of learning but rather on the end product of learning. The three R’s: Reading, Writing and “Rithmetic characterized the central purpose of schooling. Other skills learned in school were secondary.

So what does rigor look like in the twenty-first century? Technology and project based learning have changed how teachers are thinking about instruction and assessment in today’s classrooms. The essential components of an excellent education today embody much more than the traditional three R’s. Past President of NAIS, Pat Bassett, identifies Five C’s – critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and character, as the skills that will be in demand and will be rewarded in this century.

Powhatan’s teachers have embraced the Five C’s when developing curriculum and thinking about their daily teaching. I am so proud of the way our faculty continues to challenge themselves to grow professionally! When I go into classrooms, I see students solving problems and collaborating in small groups, teachers asking questions that inspire critical thinking and writing, and lessons designed to reinforce essential academic skills. Without question, they are modeling our pillars and guiding our students to make ethical decisions about their interactions with each other. The Five C’s are thriving at Powhatan and blend in beautifully with our time-tested motto to “learn for life”.

Student engagement at Powhatan will continue to evolve and take many forms in the twenty-first century. You can be sure that it will require students to do more than just listen in class and take notes. Take a moment to watch the video above about what is already happening in our lower school science lab and you will see, first hand, how our students are experiencing deeper learning and showing new ways to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding.

My Best,
Sue Scarborough
Head of School


Learn More on the NAIS website:  Pat Bassett &  the Five C’s of 21st Century Learning