Hewitt News

The Center for Gender and Ethical Leadership in Society: 2022-2023 Year-in-Review    
Dr. Sarah Odell, Director of Learning and Innovation Research 

Over the last several years, The Hewitt School has become a convening space for preeminent scholars who think about girls, education, and teaching. In October 2022, Hewitt launched The Center for Gender and Ethical Leadership in Society, and with it, five distinct projects designed to inspire Hewitt girls and young women to forge a more gender equitable society. Below we share brief updates on each of the Center’s current projects, which together have positively impacted every Hewitt student, faculty, and staff member this year. 

Connecting K-12, Higher Education, and Industry: A Leadership Toolkit for Girls

Hewitt has worked with Jessica Grounds and Kristin Haffert, our partners at the consulting firm Mine the Gap, to draft a K-12 leadership toolkit. Designed for teachers across grades and disciplines, this new leadership toolkit will guide Hewitt teachers through exercises to examine their own leadership styles and provide current research on the barriers women face in gaining access to leadership, the unique experiences women bring to leadership roles, and how organizations can support women leaders. This spring, our fourth grade teachers, division heads, head of school, college guidance counselors, and sustainability coordinator were trained in how to use the toolkit and began using it to incorporate tangible skills into their teaching practices that will help Hewitt girls and young women navigate the leadership pipeline. 

How does this positively impact Hewitt students? In the 2023-2024 school year, every Hewitt middle schooler will benefit from this leadership toolkit by taking a brand new research-based leadership course designed for girls and young women. We can’t wait to share the results of this new programming with our community! 

Hewitt Action Research Collaborative 

This year, the Hewitt Action Research Collaborative (HARC) — a consortium of schools committed to using institutional data to guide students as they formulate research questions — completed its first round of qualitative research projects. As members of HARC, Hewitt’s youth action researchers conducted 35 interviews with members of our high school, seeking to answer the question: what does success mean at The Hewitt School? After finalizing their report and literature review, Hewitt students and their peers from The Winsor School jointly shared their findings with a roundtable of scholars, school leaders, students, and faculty who will consider implementation of their ideas.

How does this positively impact Hewitt students? Due to the success of its inaugural year, HARC will expand in several key ways.

  • It will become a credit-bearing elective offered to students in grades 10 and 11, whose high school transcripts will reflect this unique and highly distinguished student-led research experience. 
  • Next year, members of HARC will have the opportunity to present their coursework at a conference or have it published. 
  • All ninth graders will participate in a new, required research seminar where they will learn the same valuable foundational research skills that HARC students developed this year.

The Art of Teaching at Hewitt: Creating a Community of Practice

Hewitt has made an important investment in being a community of educators who reflect on their teaching practice and continue to grow and evolve for the everyday benefit of their students. To assist us with this important work, we have partnered with Dr. Frances Rust (University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development) who meets regularly with faculty to guide them through deep and reflective conversations examining their own teaching practices. 

How does this positively impact Hewitt students? Hewitt teachers explore new, research-backed pedagogies to ensure that each Hewitt girl is appropriately challenged and engaged in her learning. One area of focus for our work with Dr. Rust next year is increasing authentic student engagement, which we are measuring through our annual YouthTruth survey data.

Leading with Love: Creating a Community of Belonging for Black Girls at Hewitt

As a predominately white institution with a mission to forge a more equitable future, The Hewitt School understands the importance of centering the voices of girls — including and especially girls of color. With support from a Klingenstein Center Seed Grant, Dr. Lauren Bailes (University of Delaware) completed a quantitative analysis of data from Hewitt’s 2022 YouthTruth survey (a school culture survey). Dr. Bailes’ work gave us a more in-depth look at our own data and a better understanding of the experiences of Black students at Hewitt. In addition to data analysis, Dr. Bailes worked with Hewitt’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Ethical Leadership Dr. Daron Cyr to interview Black students in our middle and upper schools about their experiences at Hewitt. 

With her deep expertise working with Black girls in schools and improving their educational experiences, Dr. Terri Watson (City University of New York), has been meeting regularly with upper school students in Hewitt’s Black Student Union to explore how their teachers make them feel supported, successful, and loved. 

How does this positively impact Hewitt students? This summer, Dr. Bailes will share her qualitative and quantitative findings with our faculty and staff to give them key insights on how they can create positive change within and beyond the classroom for Black Hewitt students in our middle and high schools. Dr. Watson has become a member of our “beloved community” — a term used by Black feminist scholars to describe the kind of community where all are seen and appreciated — and will continue to provide critical mentorship and support to Black Hewitt middle and upper school students next year.

Strengthening Healthy Resistance and Courage in Girls: Part II

Throughout the spring, Dr. Carol Gilligan, Dr. Tonya Leslie, and Naomi Snider (​​New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development) came to campus to conduct interviews with Hewitt students and hear how lower, middle, and high school girls articulate their relationships in connection to their own voices. 

How does this positively impact Hewitt students? This exciting research is aimed at ensuring that Hewitt's programming continues to center the needs of girls and young women and will impact how all educators think about girls’ development. We look forward to Dr. Gilligan’s preliminary findings from the pilot phase of this project. 

Conclusion: Hewitt as Thought Leader

In addition to all of the important research projects highlighted above, the work of Hewitt’s Center for Gender and Ethical Leadership in Society has extended beyond our campus, positioning Hewitt as a thought leader at the intersection of research, gender, education, and leadership. Over the course of the 2022-2023 school year, Hewitt’s Director of Learning and Innovation Research and Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Ethical Leadership have:

  • Presented research papers at the American Education Research Association Annual Conference
  • Presented research findings on how gender impacts aspiring K-12 leaders’ career journeys at the University Council on Educational Administration annual conference 
  • Co-led a workshop on how women can successfully navigate the leadership pipeline in independent schools at the National Association of Independent Schools annual conference
  • Delivered a keynote address with Hewitt Research Partner Dr. Carol Gilligan and Denise Labieniec, institutional researcher at The Winsor School in Massachusetts, at the International Coalition of Girls Schools annual conference 
Students sit in small clusters looking at notebooks and writing on chart paper stuck to the walls

Members of Hewitt's Action Research Collaborative conduct research and interviews to answer the question: what does success mean at The Hewitt School?

Dr. Frances Rust stands at a podium speaking to a room full of teachers

Dr. Frances Rust meets regularly with lower, middle, and upper school teachers to guide them through deep and reflective conversations examining their own teaching practices

Five adult women stand in front of a brick wall and green plants smiling at the camera

Director of Learning and Innovation Research Dr. Sarah Odell; Hewitt Research Partners Dr. Carol Gilligan; Naomi Snider; Dr. Tonya Leslie; and Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Ethical Leadership Dr. Daron Cyr