This month, Head of School Zemsky and the Board of Trustees are rolling out the new Strategic Vision for the school. At the September Alumni Association Executive Board (AAEB), the other members and I had a chance to hear about the plan directly from the Head of School. On behalf of the AAEB, I’d like to share an alumni reaction and perspective to the newly unveiled strategic vision and creating a Culture of Curiosity.
When a new strategic plan is rolled out at your alma mater, the alumni want to know how the student experience will be affected: Will the things that made an impact on me and my journey still be there for future students? Will the principles of mind, body, and spirit still be held dear?
I was happy to hear that at the beginning of the process, the board and the school community affirmed their commitment to the mission. They also set a nice framework around the mission which identifies mission skills, set to be a focus of curriculum decisions and students’ personal learning commitments: curiosity, perseverance, empathy, and creativity.
They then looked at what would make future Moravian graduates “indispensable” in the uncertain and changing world we live in. In the research done on both education trends and the future of the job market, a few key things popped out: 85% of jobs needed in 2030 do not currently exist; 50% of occupations today will no longer exist in 2025; and the top ten skills according to employers has drastically shifted from hard skills 10 years ago, to more abstract skills, such as creativity, complex problem solving, and critical thinking. The school leadership wrestled with this: What implications should these findings have on how we look at educating the students of today?
Moravian’s answer is to create a culture of curiosity, where personal growth, discovery, and building habits for lifelong learning are emphasized. Mr. Zemsky said something that really caught my attention when we were discussing this point; “Learning shouldn’t be something that happens to them.” He introduced the “Journey of a Learner” framework – generative learning that will help guide how students and teachers approach new concepts in the classroom, as well as how students will actively be involved in their own education, and develop the skills necessary to be indispensable once they graduate. This framework encompasses not only the mission skill of curiosity but also perseverance and creativity.
The last mission skill that is emphasized in this plan is empathy, defined in this plan as the inclusion and exploration of different points of view that pushes our thinking to new depths of understanding. I truly think that this is one thing that sets the Moravian experience apart from other schools, and this has been true for as long as our school has existed. This skill has deep roots in the Moravian tradition when the Moravians realized they could really use the help of the Native Americans to make it through the tough winters in Pennsylvania with enough food. Empathy is more than being kind; it is an appreciation of what you don’t know and recognition that everyone has something to teach you. The encouragement of learning from your peers, experiencing new things and new cultures, and expanding your circle sets Moravian graduates apart, and I’m glad to hear that this important pillar of the Moravian experience will not change.
In reflecting on this plan and how the student experience will be affected compared what I experienced, my main takeaway is that this: the school has taken what were some of the best and most impactful pieces of my educational journey and is bringing them to the forefront. Moravian is setting the stage to prepare students for the unknown. Through new initiatives, such as the FIRE (Freshmen Interdisciplinary Research Experience) program, students get a chance to develop the curiosity and the grit that will help them to move on to great things in our communities and the world.
The approach of mind, body and spirit is now more important than ever.