The family of schools that make up Meritas, a global network of college prep schools, provide students with“unique, international opportunities that promote cultural literacy, international friendships and world-class student achievement that contribute to college acceptance and life success.” In addition to creating a personalized learning plan for each student and providing small class sizes, top performing teachers and college counseling, Meritas builds opportunities for students from around the world to connect through a variety of global events that support unique real world experiences the development of an expanded cultural awareness.
We were recently able to talk with Drew Alexander, Head of School, from Léman Manhattan Preparatory School about personalized learning and preparing students for the global economy of the future. Léman Prep is the only boarding school in Manhattan and is part of the Meritas family of schools.
GS: How does Leman prepare students for college and career readiness?
Drew Alexander (DA): As an International Baccalaureate Program college preparatory school with a globally-minded curriculum, Léman Manhattan’s mission is to provide students with a foundation of rigorous academics and international perspectives that will help them succeed at their top-choice universities and in their chosen fields of work.
Specifically, starting in the sixth grade, we introduce students to the study skills, self-knowledge, career discovery and college prep tools they need to succeed in the classroom and throughout their lives through our Strengths4Success program.
In addition, we work with our seniors to explore and clearly articulate their interests, motivations, and short and long-term goals before the start of the college application process. Today, students can simultaneously apply to upwards of 10 to 15 colleges. With these increased options comes a need for a well-defined sense of self-awareness. Through this introspection, our students often end up genuinely surprising themselves by what schools they ultimately discover are a match for them.
GS: What sort of competencies are expected for students and how are those achieved?
DA: I strongly believe that critical thinking is the essential skill in understanding and successfully navigating today’s global community. Whether our students are learning American history, geometry or how to play a team sport, they build the ability to ask thoughtful questions, make connections and solve problems creatively. Studies indicate a clear link between these skills, higher GPA’s and eventual success in college.
Q: How is personalized learning achieved with students and how is that implemented in both early and secondary education?
DA: From kindergarten through 12th grade, each Léman Manhattan student develops a Personalized Learning Plan, created in partnership between the student, parents and teachers. The plan focuses on the individual student’s strengths, interests and goals. With a strong data- and skills-driven academic focus, the Personalized Learning Plan simultaneously engages the student’s personal interests and passions. Goals can range from mastering a math concept in lower school to improving acting skills while exploring playwriting in high school.
Q: How does Leman keep its teaching and learning current with the expectations of the global economy? What skills and attributes are focused on?
DA: As the only independent school in New York City with sister campuses around the world and an international boarding program, we are uniquely poised to benefit from a tremendous amount of collaboration with educators and students from around the world.
Starting in second grade, students participate in our Touchpoints Program, where they collaborate with their peers at our sister schools to research and debate global issues such as deforestation, clean water and GMOs. We want our students not only to understand the nature of a problem in its manifold complexities – but to know that they can somehow personally address the problem and make a difference. We encourage our students to see the world as their classroom because learning should be unrestricted by borders.
In addition, this fall, Léman Manhattan became only the fourth independent school in Manhattan to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We strive to inspire international-mindedness and the esteemed IB Diploma Program reinforces this very core mission. It is no coincidence that Léman Manhattan and the IB Program share a commitment to developing critical thinking skills and an empathy for other cultures.