Faculty at Fessenden understand that boys need to feel a personal connection to the learning process. They need to feel cared for and nurtured in order to take risks, reach beyond their limitations, and try new things. Fessenden alumnus Dr. Edward Hallowell, writer and psychiatrist, has said that having a personal bond with an adult is the most important predictor of success and happiness for boys. The syllogism “nurture, then challenge” has had long-standing impact on our students’ experiences at Fessenden. Nurturing requires a compassionate connection to the boys as individuals, and our teachers form real alliances with our boys as their role models and mentors. They know what their students need to reach their potential. Because of the personal relationships created at Fessenden, boys are highly motivated and fully supported as they strive for success, whether in the classroom, on stage, in the lab, or on the athletic field.
Our single-sex classrooms are another form of differentiated learning environments. Boys have distinct approaches to learning, and our teachers’ experience educating boys allows them to plan lessons, activities, and projects with these differences in mind. Active, hands-on, relevant lessons are often most engaging to boys; boys see the answer to “Why are we doing this?” as essential to their learning.
At Fessenden, we engage our students in conversations about what it means to be men in the 21st century. We help them to see the many paths they can take to manhood and to success and happiness in their lives. We offer myriad opportunities for boys to take on responsibilities as table monitors, dorm proctors, student council members, captains of athletic teams, Big Brothers to Lower School students, and club officers, all of which give them a powerful vision of the many ways they can become good men. Our focus on character education provides our boys with the instruction, practice, and encouragement they need to become honest friends, respectful collaborators, and compassionate leaders.