A Message From The Headmaster - John Potter


John Potter The New School has often been described as an elementary/middle/high school version of a small liberal arts college – and that’s a pretty good description. Much as in college, students feel an exciting mix of freedom and intellectual challenge. They have choices within a discipline in planning out their academic distribution requirements. They learn to collaborate closely with their teachers and advisors as they work their way through the school. They learn to master essential skills.

From the outset, Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences has been a critical underpinning of our PROCESS of education. Acknowledging the complexity of intelligence (Gardner holds that there are at least eight separate intelligences in every person – linguistic, mathematical, and spatial, just to mention three) is crucial to a successful education.

The PRODUCT of a New School education is a graduate who has mastered the Essential Skills we consider necessary to succeed in college, in professions, and in the community. The Ten Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools offer clear and thoughtful guidelines for The New School and other like-minded schools across the nation. We meet with other Essential Schools to monitor and maintain the educational excellence for which we stand.

These processes and practices have helped inspire our students to commit to their education in a deep and meaningful way. We have demonstrated that when students are heard, their senses opened and their uniqueness celebrated, they develop, uncover – or recover – their intrinsic motivation.

Why The New School Works

I use the word OWNERSHIP a lot at The New School. I see it developing when a student takes an active role in shaping his or her academic life and begins to set high standards for his or her own work. I see it when a student continues to refine and improve a product beyond the expectations of a course. I see it happening when a student begins to objectively, reasonably and persuasively negotiate academic and other issues with his or her teachers and other students.

For all the staff at The New School these concepts are crucial. Doing what we do is both simple and clear; it is what colleges at all levels describe as their wish list of practices in schools, and why they are so enthusiastic when they hear about what we do or experience one of our graduates in their setting.

John Potter