In the Marketplace
The Pingry School: A community of learners.
In The Marketplace By Deborah Schapiro, photos by Dan Epstein A Community of Learners W hen asked what makes e Pingry School so special, Headmaster Nathaniel Conard doesn't hesitate. "We have a wonderful community of people who are passionate about learning. You can feel the constant energy here," he says. "Here" is actually two places; Pingry has two diﬀerent campuses. e Lower School, comprising kindergarten through grade ﬁve, is located in Short Hills. e Middle and Upper Schools, extending from grade six through Form VI (12th grade), are in Martinsville. While there are obviously physical and curricular diﬀerences, the two campuses share a core educational philosophy. According to Conard, "We at Pingry strongly believe that intellectual engagement is what is most important to foster in a student. Academic rigor matters too, and we deﬁnitely have it, but that is actually relatively easy to achieve. What is harder, but more important, is developing lifelong intellectual curiosity." At Pingry, this process begins with a solid academic foundation, lots of individual attention, hands-on experiences, and numerous opportunities for creative expression. Pingry Lower School classes generally consist of no more than 16 students. eir schedules include physical education, as well as either music, drama, art or technology every day. Daily Spanish instruction begins in ﬁrst grade. Middle schoolers have more choices in their schedules: ey may continue with Spanish, or choose among French, German and Mandarin Chinese—in addition to taking Latin—to satisfy their foreign language requirement. Similarly, they are oﬀered a choice of band, string ensemble or chorus as a way of meeting Pingry's music requirement. e Physical Education requirement can likewise be met by either taking yoga class or playing on a team of the student's choosing—sports ranging from football to fencing are oﬀered. e Upper School focuses on high standards of character as well as high academic achievement. Pingry students are required to perform community service; many go way beyond the minimum. ey are encouraged to join sports and other extra-curricular activities. Student government and the drama and photography clubs are just a few of the activities available. In addition to taking a full schedule of demanding courses, students are required to complete an Independent Senior Project during their ﬁnal year. Pingry graduates ﬁnd themselves exceptionally well-prepared for college. In addition to lifelong learners, Pingry seeks to create good global citizens. is begins with its Honor Code. Developed by the school's senior class back in 1926, the code is more than an admonition not to cheat on tests. It calls on students to behave respectably, work for the good of the group as opposed to solely for themselves, and to always consider the rights of others. " e Honor Code is a tremendous part of the ethos of this school; it's really community-owned rather than administratively imposed," says Conard. Since Conard became Headmaster six years ago, he has seen a change in the way teachers at Pingry teach. " e trend toward more participatory learning actually began long before I got here, but I really see it now. Students have to come to class prepared," he explains. " e teacher facilitates and redirects the discussion when necessary, but the students are much more responsible for making sure the class goes well." Participatory learning is just another one of Pingry's strengths. Conard is keenly aware of how special his school is: "I wish that many more kids had access to a Pingry education." The Pingry School Lower School–Country Day Drive, Short Hills • 973-379-4550 Middle & Upper Schools—Martinsville Rd., Martinsville • 908-647-5555 www.pingry.org March 2011 VicinityMagazine.com 35
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