Researchers now suggest that a child’s success strongly relates to their level of character, positivity, self-management, and self-awareness. When classrooms are nurturing, kind, and supportive, students are more likely to take risks, work collaboratively, and explore more freely.
To ensure our students give the best of themselves and are supported in all aspects of their education, WES has the people, programs, and resources to develop the whole child. Within our nurturing environment, our students to discover those unique qualities on which to build the confident self-image and character which will help them all go forth joyfully as contributors in the world.
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Our chapel program is designed to nurture the spiritual life of our school community. Students attend chapel once each week, including several Special Chapels throughout the year (All Saints’ Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and St. George’s Day). Starting with the first-grade, students are invited to participate as assistants in leading our services as readers, acolytes, crucifers, and musicians.
As an Episcopal school, our worship generally follows the patterns of worship of services in the Book of Common Prayer, the prayer book of the Episcopal Church. In chapel, we sing, pray, read lessons from the Bible and other sacred texts, and hear a reflection from our Chaplain or a guest speaker. School chapels seek to honor the religious diversity of the WES community, and throughout the year, the holy days of other faiths and traditions are recognized and celebrated during chapel services.
WES is committed to educating our students about religion as an integral part of human life. Religion is taught once each week in all grades. In addition to the topics and themes described below, WES uses a Virtues Program originally designed in 2002 by the Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education (CSEE) and continuously updated for to lay the foundation for Kind, Confident, and Prepared global citizens. The Virtue Program is a comprehensive two-year sequence for teaching one virtue per month–18 virtues in all–over a two-year period, engaging the members of the entire WES community in a unified focus on a featured virtue. These virtues are taught through age-appropriate materials, activities, videos, and tools for parents.
An introductory course in world religions is taught in Grade 6 and is closely tied to the sixth-grade Ancient Civilizations course.
Students in Grades 7 and 8 engage in a two year sequential Ethics course, which prepares them to make responsible decisions in high school. In the first two quarters of Grade 7, students have a weekly class with the Chaplain to introduce them to major concepts in the study of ethics. In the second two quarters, students have a weekly class with the Middle School Division Director to apply these concepts to current events.
In the first two quarters of eighth-grade, students have a weekly class with the Head of School to apply these concepts specifically to leadership and to learn about their own leadership style. In the final two quarters of their time at WES, students meet weekly with the Chaplain to develop and create a Capstone project that reflects what they have learned about ethical leadership.
WES provides a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for every student. The SEL curriculum teaches self-awareness and self-control, as well as awareness of others and relationship skills. Our youngest learners explore friendships, self-control, and identifying and expressing their feelings. Elementary classes build on these topics with anti-bullying and conflict resolution strategies, coping skills and self-esteem. In Middle School, advisories delve deeper into topics such as healthy friendships, social media, diversity and justice, and self-advocacy
WES implements the Responsive Classroom ® curriculum for classroom management. Throughout the year these programs, curricula, and occasions provide our students the opportunities for conversations and reflection that can lead to a better understanding about themselves and their community.
Middle School Advisory
WES Middle School students are assigned and meet weekly with the same group of Grade 6, 7, and 8 students and a WES faculty member. The faculty member serves as the advisor, and the group members, as a whole, provide each other academic and social-emotional support and mentorship. Faculty advisors casually “checking in” with students as well as initiating activities that foster stronger bonds within the group, develop strong moral character, and implement community outreach. Additionally, the advisor develops a personal and accessible relationship with each student’s families. To serve as a liaison, the advisor monitors each student’s academic achievement and helps students set reasonable, yet challenging goals.
For students, the Advisory Program gives them:
Advisory programs offer the structure to meet students’ developmental needs because it is a place in school where students are intimately known as a “whole child.” These elements of connectedness have the potential to improve academic achievement and the overall school experience for Middle School students.*
*Excerpted from the Association for Middle School Education, “Creating a Culture of Connectedness through Middle School Advisory Programs,” by Sarah Brody Shulkind, Jack Foote
Service to others is an integral part of our identity as an Episcopal school.
Outreach activities at WES spring from the interests, enthusiasm, and commitment of our students, classroom teachers, administration, and parent community. “To be ever mindful of the needs of others,” the closing of a familiar blessing from the Book of Common Prayer, is the guiding spirit of the mission and life of Washington Episcopal School.
The Community Service program at WES includes both grade-specific and community-wide service projects.
Each division incorporates several community service projects into their classroom calendars each year. WES students, in addition to participating in extracurricular service projects, have the option to join WES community members in our “First Friday” program.
On the First Friday of the month (October through April) WES hosts a wide variety of service offerings. These activities will generally run from 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on Friday afternoons. Activities are organized by WES parents and staff and change on a monthly basis.
Students are invited to sign up to the service opportunity of their choosing prior to the “First” Friday. Examples of First Friday opportunities include recycling markers through the Crayola ColorCycle program, assembling toiletry bags for homeless shelters, designing “Kindness Rocks,” travelling to the Sunrise Village Center to read to the elderly, working with students at the Rosemount Center, cleaning up Little Falls Parkway, and creating cat toys and blankets for distribution at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
Annual school-wide service projects include the canned food drive benefitting Martha’s Table, and a Coat Drive benefitting the Church of the Epiphany.
A Community Service Award is presented during the annual Grade 4-8 student awards ceremony in June to recognize the student who shows outstanding dedication to community service.
WES offers a strong student support system that addresses the whole child, ensuring that each child experiences achievement and success as students of our school.
We recognize the importance of nurturing the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual development of the children as well as their intellectual growth. Our teachers and faculty assess each child’s current needs and employ techniques and use the resources best-suited to inspire them; we are committed to helping each child develop his or her fullest potential.
The Chaplain leads the weekly Chapel services and teaches religion to all students. In addition, the Chaplain is available for pastoral counseling to any student, family, or staff member desiring it.
The role of the Counselor is to offer support to students, families, teachers, and staff to help facilitate a successful academic year. The Counselor works with a multidisciplinary team to provide students with support for social, emotional, and behavioral issues to maximize their academic achievement and personal growth and development.
To ensure that all students benefit fully from the school’s enriched curriculum, the Learning Specialist works with teachers, staff, and families to support students with learning differences. The Learning Specialist works with families, as needed, to coordinate and monitor academic accommodation plans for students whose families have submitted testing reports and meet regularly with Division Heads, School Counselor, and teachers.
The Nurse is responsible for promoting good health throughout the school so that students may be successful learners. In addition to administering first aid to the minor scrapes, bumps, and aches of WES students, the Nurse teaches Middle School Health class, performs vision and hearing assessments, and dispenses all medication to students.
“Community Service makes us feel more connected to the world. We like the feeling we get when we help others.”
— Amel and Lucy, Class of 2020