Mr. Tom Brinkerhoff, Upper School faculty member, reflects on how Ranney students exemplify curiosity as a value.
Ranney is a place of constant curiosity. As a history teacher in the upper school, I am continually inspired by the inquisitiveness of our students. Ranney students embrace collective learning. In our class discussions and seminars, students learn as much from the insights of their peers as they do from me–building on one another’s ideas to extract the larger meaning of a historical question. The nuance and depth of student discussions (which often push me–as a mutually active learner–to think deeper about the material) are engendered through students’ belief in Ranney’s classrooms as a safe space for learning. In the end-of-quarter anonymous feedback surveys I distribute to students, they regularly note that they feel empowered to express their voice, offer intriguing (yet not necessarily fully formed) thoughts, and ask questions. Ranney’s classrooms hum with a palpable vibrancy where learning is visible, continuous, and mutually constructive.
Student curiosity and courage extend themselves to activities beyond the classroom. As a co-adviser of the Ranney yearbook (along with Sara Zavorek) I am continually taken aback by the design work of our students. As a student-led publication, the yearbook highlights the daily creativity and leadership of Ranney students–both throughout its pages and in the year-long creation of the book. Much like the yearbook, my role as adviser of the Middle East Appreciation Club (MEAC) has continually energized me as an adviser and member of this community. Although the club organized a number of student-led events throughout the first semester, perhaps the most exciting was a virtual discussion with scholars of Middle Eastern history that drew more than 40 students from across the upper school. Excitedly surprised by the amount of students wishing to ask questions at the conclusion of the talk, a Monmouth University history professor remarked to the group, “I can’t believe these are high school students.”
Much like the students, I benefit from the warmth of the Ranney community. I find myself always engaged with colleagues across departments (formally and informally) discussing pedagogical approaches. As an educator, Ranney is a space where you will grow as a practitioner and learner. The care, dedication, and rigor of the faculty (which are continually on display) make Ranney feel like a cohesive and formidable team–one where everyone is always working to aid students. Ranney (and being a panther) is certainly a place where administrators, teachers, staff, and students alike find their spots.