Perspective: An Outside View on Whitby

Jonathan Chein

Jonathan Chein

Since the beginning of the school year, Jacquie Quigley, our Director of Secondary School Counseling has hosted a steady stream of visitors from schools all over the northeast, eager to learn about Whitby.

While at the Whitby sponsored secondary school fair a few weeks ago, I was struck by the number of high-school representatives who made it a point to tell me how impressed they were with our students and what we are doing at Whitby. While appreciative of the compliments, I was looking for some more details, so I tried to follow up to better understand what they perceived as significant:

“Your classrooms and students are so engaging.”

“I never truly realized how international the school is.”

“Your kids are authentic. It was awesome.”

Since that evening in September, I’ve been struggling with determining the significance of the observations shared with me. I know we do something different at Whitby, but what exactly?  In search of an additional perspective, I reached out via email to the Whitby class of 2014 and asked what are the striking differences between Whitby and their current school.  Among their responses:

"I miss my old friends!...I miss the sense of family throughout the entire grade."

"Whitby is awesome.  I miss it."

"[Whitby] is a place where you generally feel very comfortable and are not afraid to be yourself."

"Whitby was an amazing environment with people who will help you in any situation.  People are able to see things from different perspectives and enjoy learning about other cultures! Once you are a Whitby Kid, you are always a Whitby Kid!!!!"

Finally, I sat down with Mrs. Quigley. As the main point of contact to the many different schools who visit Whitby, I was hoping she could help distill the information school reps were sharing after visiting Whitby and interacting with students.  Based on her ongoing conversations she thinks schools see Whitby and its students as a breath of fresh air. Instead of presenting a resume, Whitby students demonstrate what they’re about, which is validated with a visit to our campus and our classrooms.

It is interesting to compare the impression Whitby makes on external school administrators with the impression it makes on its students and graduates.  It may look like engagement, authentic, diversity, and confidence to school professionals.  To our students and graduates it feels like family, being able to be yourself, and being open to seeing things from different perspectives.


Jonathan Chein

Jonathan Chein

First tasting middle school in the 80s, Jonathan Chein decided to go back and try to improve on the experience. Seventeen trips later, Jonathan still loves middle school students and his role as Head of Upper School at Whitby School. Over the years, Jonathan has learned that the value of a student's journey through middle school is defined not by a student's ability to avoid the bumps along the way, but by increasing one's comfort and ability to engage those bumps and to even start seeking them out, knowing that their navigation is what defines growth.