Bennett Day School News

What Does it Mean to Have Purpose? Upper School Students Find Their Paths With Stanford's Project Wayfinder

Educators around the world have seen both scientific and anecdotal classroom evidence confirming the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) for children. The world of K-8 education is already intimately familiar with the Responsive Classroom approach to SEL—a primary resource for Bennett Day's Early Childhood and Intermediate School advisory programs.

For many students who move on to traditional high schools, however, this important learning may cease in any intentional way beyond 8th grade.

At Bennett Day School, however, we believe that social-emotional learning is is a lifelong process that continues well through high school and into adulthood. We want to provide every Bennett Day Upper School student the advisory mentorship to develop skills and wisdom to meaningfully contribute to our shared world.

To continue the progression of social-emotional learning for teens, we partnered with Stanford University's Project Wayfinder...

Project Wayfinder Logo

 (c) Project Wayfinder

Our Upper School Advisory philosophy and curriculum is rooted in Stanford University's Project Wayfinder. Drawing upon purpose development research, brain science, interviews with "purpose exemplars," and practices from native wayfinding traditions, this yearlong meaning-making journey unleashes purpose in students and enriches lives. In collaboration with Stanford University’s, Project Wayfinder thoughtfully designed a toolkit to equip students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become purposeful navigators of their lives.  

Wayfinder_TeacherTraining_June2018_PatrickBeaudouin_076 (c) Project Wayfinder
Bennett Day Upper School students will spend one hour every day participating in advisory work either directly related to the Project Wayfinder Toolkit or engaging with advisors and peers. The Bennett Day Upper School Advisory journey, in tandem with Project Wayfinder, ultimately guides students through phases of deep self-awareness, world-awareness, and purposeful action in the world.
(c) Project Wayfinder

Why is purpose so important?

According to Project Wayfinder research, purpose amongst teens has been shown to facilitate identity formation, increase positive attitudes towards diversity, attenuate antisocial behavior and bullying, decrease engagement in risky behaviors, and increase academic engagement. Furthermore, interventions to promote purposeful behavior have been found to lead to significant increases in grade point averages.

In adulthood, those who can identify purpose in life report higher levels of psychological well-being, flourishing, hope, resilience and life satisfaction. Furthermore, purposeful people have been found to live longer and have significantly lower incidences of heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.

Bennett Day Upper School Advisory Promises...

  • Every Bennett Day learner is connected with an advisor for their four years of Upper School.
  • Advisors participate in home visits prior to the school year to talk about family and student goals and personalizing learning.
  • Advisory class meets for an hour every day to help continually rethink and redesign pathways and participate in Project Wayfinder activities.
  • Students meet with advisors weekly, one-on-one, to talk about progress and plans.
  • Starting in 10th grade—students, advisors, and IvyWise college counselors meet regularly to discuss post-Bennett Day plans.

Learn even more about Bennett Day Upper School's advisory program here or join us for an information session.

Register for an Upper School Information Session