Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12


Gretchen Overhiser

Female teacher outside smiling in green shirt."My biggest hope for our students is that they go out into the world as complete, whole, people who are able to contribute to society and who have a true sense of themselves--a sense of their own potential, and that they know that they can do whatever it is they set out to achieve.

At Pennington, we work with every student as an individual. Each and every student…I’m amazed at the attention that every teacher puts into uncovering that little kernel, that special sauce in each student. It's a beautiful thing to see. If you have children yourself then you know how much is inside of your child, you know it's there, and you know that it can be expressed somehow. And you know that when you send her or him off to Pennington, the teachers are deeply committed to trying to unpack those layers of your child, and figure out what makes him or her tick. What's unique, what special, what are her hopes, what are his dreams, and how can I work with that--to make that student really come alive?

Recognizing that individual spirit in every student is essential here and we also recognize every student as being part of our collective student body, so we actively encourage students to become part of the School, to become part of what makes Pennington special. That means involvement in our activities, in our program, even in our classroom. Students are part of a group dynamic and we really work to try to promote that as well as building individuals. Those two things, working hand-in-hand, are a big part of what makes students whole people. We want to send them out into the world with that knowledge for themselves; ‘I am a unique individual. I can find a way to express that and I also operate as part of the larger society, and I have an obligation and a responsibility to convey to the world.’

When your child comes to school at Pennington, it is an experience of discovery, of exploration. This is not an environment where we are filling your child with facts and information and with things that he or she must learn. We are helping your children become creative, inspired, successful learners. We work hard to inspire creativity, to really make students understand that they own this material. That they can love it, that they can interact with it; this is not traditional teaching. It’s not standing up in front of a room. It’s not lecturing. It's a process of helping students uncover layers of material for themselves.

I wish that all parents could be in a classroom with their student when conversation is flowing around a table and kids are genuinely excited about a new idea or a new concept--something that the students think they've discovered for the first time themselves. And you're thinking to yourself, ‘This is exactly where I wanted you to go. But they got there all by themselves.’ I think anyone who has worked in business and in any kind of job or career knows that building these collaborative skills is essential. I wish all parents could experience this kind of education, which is so different from what we experienced when we were in high school."