By Steve Barrett, Director of Outreach
Parents of Wildwood students have thoughtfully chosen our approach for their children. They know the Wildwood way intentionally matches academic rigor with attention to students’ full social-emotional development. That approach is integral to our progressive philosophy—getting kids to college and helping them thrive there, and in their lives beyond.
As schools across the globe continue to choose Wildwood as a model, I find the understanding of our approach is not only spreading, but also soaking deeper into the DNA of many schools.
In August I brought the Wildwood way to Indonesia. Surabaya Intercultural School (SIS)—a Pre-K to grade 12 independent school—is in Indonesia’s second largest city. SIS serves a highly multicultural student body, including native Indonesians, Indonesians of Chinese descent, and white Westerners.
Matthew Gaetano, SIS’s head of school, told me he reached out to Wildwood because within a single week last spring, he heard about the Wildwood approach from two different international school colleagues in Southeast Asia. Both Singapore American School and the United Nations International School in Hanoi, Vietnam, have worked with the Wildwood Outreach Center to establish and strengthen their upper school Advisory programs. Before arriving in Indonesia, Matthew and I planned three days of work together to help the school strengthen its nascent Advisory program.
To establish some context for the school’s culture and people, I spent the first day observing classes and having conversations—with SIS students, teachers, and parents, in order to hear what they like about their school and their hopes for a revitalized Advisory program. The next two days I worked directly with Advisors and program leaders—helping them to practice the essentials of running Advisory sessions, engaging in purposeful work with their colleagues, and planning for long-term programmatic success.
SIS’s commitment to building a thriving Advisory program mirrors Indonesian culture, where personal connection is greatly valued. I got to experience that over the weekend I spent in Indonesia. After touring the city of Malang, up along the hilly spine of the island of Java, I was invited by Rudi, who works for SIS as a driver, to join him and his family for a meal at their home. With Rudi as interpreter, we shared personal stories and learned about each other’s countries and cultures. His family’s hospitality reminds me that—just like in Advisory—meaningful learning comes through our interactions with others in the context of genuine interest and care.
Reflecting on the connections made in conversation, I had a renewed appreciation that our unique Advisory model and the core mission of the Wildwood Outreach Center is realized in daily classroom interactions in Los Angeles, and in so many more settings and situations beyond.
With a renewed sense of connection and possibility, we are fortunate to know that what works for our children is considered a beacon of best practices in learning.