Learn & Play: The Wilson School
Balance—it’s something we all strive for in our day-to-day life. We want to find that perfect combination of work, leisure, family and whatever else makes us feel happy and centered. The Wilson School, an independent preparatory school in Clayton for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, understands it’s not just adults who benefit from thoughtful planning. That’s why it equips all students with the proper tools to achieve balance, both in and out of the classroom.
This mission is built into the classroom structure at Wilson. Its curriculum offers a mix of both classical education and innovative techniques. “Students learn strong foundations, but there also are opportunities for integrated learning,” explains head of school Thad Falkner. “Making connections across subjects is more exciting and engaging, and it allows for deeper understanding.” A major way the school integrates coursework is through technology. Technology coordinator Melika Panneri explains that students learn coding and then use that skill in other areas, like art and language arts. “We understand that every subject is connected, so the curriculum needs to reflect this for a more authentic, real-world learning experience,” she says.
Wilson also offers flex time for students to explore their interests. Fifth- and sixth-graders currently are using this time to create a new recess activity: a life-size version of the board game Guess Who. They are responsible for construction of the game, including purchasing items they need. Panneri explains the students presented a proposal to teachers to get permission to start the project. “They have to budget, collaborate, build and more,” she says. “They are using a lot of real-world skills during a normal school day.” Falkner sees the initiative behind the Guess Who game as indicative of Wilson students’ drive and creativity. “These students are ready for the future,” he says of the current sixth-grade class. “They still enjoy being kids, but they’re also very impressive people.”
For Falkner, the class ideally displays the attributes of Wilson graduates: curious, poised and confident, creative and collaborative, and open-minded and kind. They perform well on an academic level as well. Falkner says the average student is in the 95th percentile for writing and the 98th for math problem solving compared to others their age across the nation. Test scores, however, don’t come close to telling the whole story. Members of the class are state-ranked in martial arts and part of Wilson’s undefeated soccer team. They volunteer at nursing homes and help clean local parks. They started a business that sells slime designed to have a soothing smell and texture for those with autism, and donate a percentage of the profits to autism research. “They’re leaders even though they are only 11 or 12,” Panneri says. “It’s amazing to watch.”
Wilson supports its students in all they hope to achieve. Assistant head of school Andrea Ruth says the school has a mindfulness program, which gives students the tools to find focus and success. “They feel safe taking risks and exploring interests because they have support,” she says. And it extends into high school. Director of admissions Maggie Baisch says faculty and staff help lead students and parents through the secondary school placement process. “We know each child so well that we can help them find the best match,” she notes.
Founded in 1913, The Wilson School is an independent preparatory school in Clayton that serves students in pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Pictured on the cover: Sixth-graders share the different ways they view themselves. For more information, call 314.725.4999 or visit wilsonschool.com.
Cover design by Allie Bronsky
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured at top: Wilson students enjoy the balance of working hard and playing hard.
Photo: Eye Candy Imaging