When we launched the first J-Term four years ago with the Class of 2018, we considered it an experiment. We would take a few days away from the regular business of school and challenge students to investigate problems in the wider world. We hoped they would learn something meaningful about their chosen topics. We hoped they would be able to manage the freedom it offered—no teachers telling you what to do? No grades? It sounded good, but in quiet moments, we asked ourselves: could this really work?
Four years later, we know the answer: absolutely, yes! (Scroll down for J-Term Video)
J-Term is a signature experience for every student in the Upper School. Our students tackle topics ranging from climate change to homelessness to racism, and their curiosity, open-mindedness, and capacity for reflection impress us more each year. Students work in teams to interview experts, do research, and come up ways to educate our community and take action. Many students continue working on solutions long after J-Term concludes. They create clubs, lead assemblies and do volunteer work in the community.
I realized that we could lead ourselves, as a group, not looking to a teacher to tell us what to do.”- Tyleigh Zammit '19
Junior Tyleigh Zammitt told me that J-Term was the place where she discovered she could be a leader: “I realized that we could lead ourselves, as a group, not looking to a teacher to tell us what to do.” Her group focused on problems with excessive screen time and social media. Two years after her J-Term experience, she says she still thinks about her own screen time and makes better choices because of what she learned with her group.
The faculty that created J-Term has only grown better at guiding students in this work. And talking with students like Tyleigh has convinced us, more than anything, to trust the process. Every year, by the final day of the J-Term Showcase, we as teachers are simply guests at the event: the students set up their exhibits, work together, teach visitors all about their topics, and are ready to lead. It’s an incredible transformation--the best of what school can be.
Tyleigh asked me why we don’t do J-Term in every grade. I have to admit, it’s a good question.
St. Luke’s is a private, secular (non-religious) independent school in New Canaan, CT serving grades 5-12. St. Luke’s mission: An exceptional education that inspires a deep love of learning, a strong moral compass, the commitment to serve, and the confidence to lead.
Leave a comment
Get our latest blog posts!
- Amber Berry: Head of Middle School ( 2 )
- Beth Yavenditti: Director of Global Education ( 3 )
- Carrie Meatto: Spanish Teacher ( 1 )
- Chris Mantz: 5th-Grade Teacher ( 1 )
- Dan Clarke: Sports Information Specialist ( 1 )
- Daphne Teittinen-Schreck: ESS Director ( 1 )
- Dr. Jason Haynes: History Chair ( 2 )
- Dr. Stephanie Bramlett: Former Director of Inclusive Excellence ( 2 )
- Gareth Fancher: Director of Emotional Intelligence ( 1 )
- Georgia Rosenberg '19: Student ( 1 )
- Ginny Bachman: Director of Admission ( 4 )
- Hunter Martin: Summer Program Director ( 1 )
- Jane Olsen: Fifth Grade Teacher ( 1 )
- Jim Foley: Asst. Head of School for Leadership & Innovation ( 2 )
- Jim Yavenditti: Director of Studies ( 1 )
- Julia Gabriele: Associate Head of School & Chief Financial Officer ( 5 )
- Kate Parker-Burgard: Director of the Center for Leadership ( 18 )
- Liz Perry: Head of Upper School ( 9 )
- Mark Chuhta: Asst. Head of Middle School ( 1 )
- Mark Davis: Head of School ( 36 )
- Michael Mitchell: designLab Director ( 2 )
- Mike West: Athletics Director ( 1 )
- Nancy Troeger: Director of Marketing and Communications ( 4 )
- Sonia Bell: Director of College Counseling ( 2 )
- Stephen Vehslage: Associate Director of College Counseling ( 1 )
- Students: Jack Briggs '21 and Liam Patty '21 ( 1 )
- Tom Owen: English Teaching Fellow ( 1 )
- Gareth Fancher ( 1 ) [Show All]
Posts by Topic
- Innovation in Education
- Lifelong Learning
- Moral Compass
- private school
- Moral Courage
- Above and Beyond
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Global Perspective
- Student Voices
- Parents as Partners
- College Admissions
- Postive (Alumni) Outcomes
- Civil Discourse
- Private School Admissions
- Spaces for Learning