writings and Reflections

A Centennial Vision for Hewitt
Tara Christie Kinsey

The Hewitt School was founded in 1920 in the immediate wake of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote -- a watershed moment in the ongoing effort for women to achieve social, economic, and political equality. In the 99 years since our founding, Hewitt has evolved from its origins as a finishing school into what it is today: an empowering, vigorous, increasingly diverse, and forward-thinking school with a defining commitment to educating girls and young women to effect positive change in our world. 

In September 2020, Hewitt will mark its 100th anniversary of educating girls and young women. Our centennial takes place in a moment full of urgency and possibility, as well as uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Society is changing at a rapid rate, utterly transforming the way we communicate, the way we work, and the way we live. Among parents, educators, and employers alike, there is growing consensus that our nation’s K-12 educational model no longer successfully prepares young people for college, for their careers, or for lives of meaning and purpose. As educational reformer John Dewey wrote over one hundred years ago: “If we teach today’s students as we taught them yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow.” Or as Harvard Professor Christopher Dede more recently stated: “The most dangerous experiment we can conduct with our children is to keep schooling the same at a time when every other aspect of society is dramatically changing.” The need for change in education is here and now. 

At Hewitt, we believe that the needs of society should determine the work of our school. Our students face a dizzying array of challenges and opportunities, both locally and globally, including poverty, lack of water and food security, inequality, climate change, social and political discord, and the uncertainty of employment and economic prosperity in light of emerging technologies and globalization. These extraordinary times require extraordinary women who have developed the faith in themselves and the courage to put their knowledge and skills to use to become leading entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, policy makers, scholars, artists, and activists who will rise to these and other challenges and provide the kind of ethical leadership that will shape our world for the better. 

It is imperative therefore that we respond to this moment and ask ourselves: 

  • What is the role of a girls’ school in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world? 
  • How can we take full advantage of what it means for our school to be located in New York City?
  • What do girls and young women need to become the game-changing, ethical leaders our world needs?

Our response to these questions is our centennial vision for Hewitt, which redefines our work through a new mission: To inspire girls and young women to become game changers and ethical leaders who forge an equitable, sustainable, and joyous future.

To achieve this ambitious and bold new mission, Hewitt will embark upon the following three major commitments:

  1. Redesign learning around transdisciplinary real-world challenges to build students’ leadership capacity and sense of purpose. 
  2. Reimagine where school happens to take full advantage of immersive, collaborative, and hands-on learning in New York City.
  3. Redefine women’s leadership by convening student, academic, and industry leaders to challenge, transcend, and transform conventional assumptions about gender, power, and leadership in our society.

We cannot continue to expect girls and young women to play by the same old rules and achieve different results. It is time for us to empower girls and young women to change the game. In so doing, they will forge a more equitable, more sustainable, and more joyous future.

Please click here to learn more about Hewitt's strategic vision

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