Waterford is an amazing school for those interested in a liberal arts education. We have had kids in the lower school, middle school, and upper school over the past decade. Every time I visit a Waterford classroom I leave wishing I could go back and start my own education over.
What makes Waterford stand apart:
1) Passionate teachers who love their subjects and their students. The teachers ignite passions in their students that the students didn't even realize they had. The teachers are genuinely interested in the students and engage with them both in and out of the classroom. (As an aside, I love that my lower school kids spend time with specialists purely focused on science, music, art, computers, reading, and PE. This guarantees that my kids are taught by knowledgeable and passionate teachers in every subject, every day.)
2) An environment of exploration where students are encouraged and enticed to explore and try things they never thought they would. My kids have benefited from so many great opportunities that have grown their minds and uncovered their talents. Waterford is an environment where it's safe to be yourself, and cool to work hard.
3) A fantastic campus and facilities to foster robust experiences: art studios, concert halls, science labs, dance studios, photo labs, flexible classroom configurations, athletic facilities, and lots of open space to gather with friends.
Why Waterford has been a great school for my children:
1) My kids love going to school each day. They are challenged, engaged, and excited by their learning experiences.
2) They are developing a breadth of knowledge and experience that I think will prepare them for the uncertainty of the ever changing world over their lifetime. They are building strong academic skills, but more importantly they are seeing the bigger world picture and learning how to think critically.
3) Their understanding of the world and of their own talents and passions is far ahead of where mine were at their age. Sitting in on a 11th grade history class reminds me of my college seminars--a small group of students sitting around a table having a robust conversation, with a teacher encouraging the students to push the limit of their thinking. My children will be far more prepared than I in charting their course to find a rewarding life that follows their passions and abilities.
One advantage of being at Waterford is that you don't have to worry about getting a "bad" teacher. They are not all equally effective with every student, but they are passionate and caring teachers who take a personal interest in the growth of their students.
The school expects the students to work hard. The homework is far more than I had as a child, but they also recognize that these kids are all involved in other activities as part of a great liberal arts education.
Waterford exposed me to so many diverse fields, with expert-level instruction. I could paint, throw clay on the potter's wheel, examine cultures in a petri dish, study violin concertos, recite Shakespeare onstage for my peers. The quality of instruction was on a collegiate level, and my peers were first-class and inspired me to work hard and perform well academically. Truly, it was an exceptional education.
I want to share my view of the Waterford School as both an alumnus and a parent. I attended Waterford from 3rd grade through 12th grade. The experience changed my life. I was struggling immensely in massive classes at my local public school. When I graduate from Waterford I went to college on scholarship, and I received a master of science degree and PhD from the top programs in my field. I honestly believe I would not be where I am had it not been for Waterford. The small classes, the liberal arts curriculum, the creativity that is encouraged, the committed faculty, and perhaps most important, the drive and work ethic I gained there have made me successful. I believe in it so much that we moved my family near the school so my children can easily participate in all it has to offer. It is already making a huge difference for my son, and I look forward to what it can do for my other son when he starts school. Even though it is a sacrifice financially for us, it is worth every penny. Nothing is better to invest in than our children, and this is the most secure investment in them I know.
My parents were always believers in the power of education to change a person's life. I remember when I asked them about it, wondering if they'd feel like they wasted their time and treasure if I became a truck driver. They responded they'd be thrilled, because they would have given me all the tools I needed to make that decision for myself. And I'd be the best-educated truck driver I could be.
With that in mind, in 1992, my parents enrolled me, as a 7th grader, in The Waterford School. I attended until graduation in 1997 and it was, truly, a transformative experience. I was always a good student, but, at Waterford, I learned how to be an independent student. I learned more than the right answer, but ways to find it by myself. I became more confident, both academically and socially. The faculty truly understood me and knew how to push me in all the right ways. Because of my experiences with small classes, and relationships with teachers, I learned both content and life skills I treasure to this day.
The Waterford School is a beautiful, rigorous place that wants every student to succeed. Just as important, however, the faculty and administration knows what success means for every student, and that those meanings are never the same. Its liberal arts foundation pushes students to develop their whole intellect--physical, mental, and social. It builds the foundation for deep, meaningful success in all walks of life. As I look at my fellow classmates, they have become doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, stay-at-home parents, and everything in between. Waterford gave them the skills needed to pursue those careers, and the ability to know themselves well enough to know these professions were their callings. I cannot think of a truer measure of a school's purpose.
Choosing to send our child to Waterford (next year we'll have two there) has been the best decision we've ever made. After attending a public school kindergarten last year, we knew we needed to pave a different academic path for our children. We didn't hear anything about school last year. Nothing bad, but nothing good, and each time I'd volunteer in his classroom, it was complete chaos. I wasn't excited to send him to school. After a little research we were unsure we'd ever find anything that was a good fit for my son, who is quite structured and likes everything to be in order, and my daughter who is creative and crazy and flies by the seat of her pants. haha! I was afraid to look at Waterford because it is quite a drive for us to get there, and I knew if I loved it I'd be spending a lot of time in the car, but we were curious and went looking. The minute we walked in, we were captivated by the quiet hum of children learning and engaging in hands on activities and the beautiful creative art that covered the walls. It seemed too good to be true. We went ahead and enrolled our son in first grade and boy! we couldn't be happier. The school that seemed too good to be true really is that good. Now, about 3 months into the year, he talks about school all the time! He's constantly teaching me new things and he's excited about learning! He has a small class, half the size of his class in public school last year. He's a happier all around kid and we are so thrilled! Waterford has really changed our lives. I find peace each day knowing my son is spending his days in the best possible place he could be in. My biggest concern was the distance we'd have to travel each day to school, but there are multiple busses that travel to and from surrounding areas to help out with the commute. We feel so lucky to be there and hope to continue on all the way through 12th grade.