Statement of Philosophy
The spirit of Princeton Day School is best caught in its common spaces. The libraries, lobbies, and hallways, vibrant with student art, reflect a community of inspired and inspiring learners, as well as an extraordinary tradition of excellence in the visual and performing arts. As students come and go, working in small groups, engaging one another and their teachers in the dialogue that is the essence of learning, they experience a balance of freedom and direction that enables each child to find his or her own pace and pathway to success.
Our three school divisions strike this balance differently, but the common element from PreK to the twelfth grade is a commitment to nurturing the following core values:
- an independence of thought that includes and goes beyond academic excellence;
- respect and compassion for others, expressed through service; and
- a delight in learning that evokes creativity, risk-taking, and an abiding curiosity about the human story and the natural world.
Integrity entails honesty to oneself and others; it also connotes wholeness, of the individual and of the community. We aim to nurture in our students the motivation, self-confidence, and mutual trust to discover their individual and communal strengths of mind, body, and spirit. We seek students of character and promising intellect who are capable of responding to this challenge, and we provide for them an educational atmosphere at once disciplined, playful, and diverse.
We offer students many avenues of self-discovery through academics, athletics, the arts, cultural exchange programs, and student-run activities and clubs. We encourage students to take responsibility for their education and to make learning an enterprise so exhilarating that it spills into gatherings of students in the hallways, casual moments with a coach or teacher, and conversations with parents around the dinner table. As an independent day school, we affirm the importance of the student-teacher-parent triangle. When students, teachers, and parents work together to create a continuity between school and home, the child's journey of self-discovery more fully integrates his or her intellectual, emotional, physical and moral development.
The crossroads of this journey is the classroom, where students share ideas and sharpen their skills under the guidance of a creative and dedicated faculty. As a college preparatory school, we offer rigorous training in core skills of verbal and quantitative reasoning and creative self- expression. We nurture in our students the courage and initiative to apply these skills to problem-solving across the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.
Our broad and innovative curriculum is complemented by our thorough attention to the individual student and by our commitment to recognizing and supporting differences in learning styles. Through one-on-one contact between students and teachers at all levels, through the support provided by a school counselor and a full-time learning specialist, and through strong advising systems in the middle and upper schools, we ensure that every student receives the guidance necessary to acquire core skills and develop his or her unique strengths.
At Princeton Day School, the pursuit of excellence is a cooperative process grounded in respect for others. We nurture respect through stewardship, community service, and the celebration of diversity. A steward is a keeper or caretaker, one who recognizes that his or her own well-being is strengthened by service to others and to the community; we teach this recognition by integrating service activities into our curriculum at all levels. The vitality of a community is enhanced by its diversity, and our commitment to stewardship goes hand in hand with a commitment to cultivating diversity in our student body and faculty. We seek to create an atmosphere that challenges us to open our minds and hearts to others-- to understand and celebrate our differences, whatever they may be, and to discover common ground.
Robert Frost says that a poem "runs a course from delight to wisdom." In education, too, the way to wisdom leads through delight, which comes when we remember to make room in our busy lives for rest, reflection, appreciation, and gratitude. Even as we challenge students to reach beyond themselves, we teach them to recognize limits and establish priorities. As individuals and as a community, we measure our achievements, in part, by the difficult choices we make and the possibilities we forego.
At Princeton Day School, we are all teachers, and we are all learners, working together in the common spaces of the human spirit. The adults of this community have the added responsibility of being role models for the young. Role models teach through their aspirations as well as their actions. The qualities of mind and heart that we encourage our students to practice in their work and their relations with others are the qualities of mind and heart to which we all aspire in our daily lives: courage, discipline, compassion, curiosity, and enjoyment of our work and pla