To the Editor:
I agree with the viewpoint of Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers regarding the courage to change how we educate our students (“Educating the ‘Whole Child’ Requires Courageous Leaders,” Jan. 16, 2018). As the president of Milton Hershey School, a tuition-free, private boarding school serving low-income students—one from which I myself graduated—I know firsthand how important it is to adapt curriculum, schedules, and extracurricular programs to meet the needs of the students we serve.
Our whole-child approach to education aims to help our students break the cycle of poverty. With more than 100 years of experience, we have learned what children need to succeed in school and become productive members of society. We have evolved and grown to help students overcome poverty’s impact, including by introducing social-emotional-learning curriculum and providing physical and behavioral health services on our campus.
Like every other school, with each change we must evaluate budgets, staff training and time commitments, and feedback from alumni and our local community. This takes time and courage. However, my experience has been that when you place students at the center of every decision you make, the courage to act follows naturally.
Milton Hershey School
A version of this article appeared in the February 14, 2018 edition of Education Week as A Look Inside Whole-Child Education