Understanding our Founder, Miss Mitchell
Karen Gaul and Brian Swauger, Grade 5 teachers

An interesting question was recently posed to the fifth grade: What do we know about one of the founders of our school, Miss Mary Mitchell? While many fifth graders knew a little about Miss Mitchell, very few understood her progressive values and dedication to excellence in education. From this realization, grew a student-led, interdisciplinary study of Miss Mitchell's life and contributions to WT. The Miss Mitchell Project asks both students and faculty to break out of traditional roles. Students brainstormed ways that teachers might act as facilitators as they prepared to direct projects. Rather than pre-plan lessons, teachers prepared for their role as facilitators by listening as students generated questions about Miss Mitchell and ideas for projects. 

There are currently six fifth grade Miss Mitchell Project working groups developing projects including a play, a movie, a statue, a choreographed song, an art project, and a computer science project. Working groups are meeting once a six-day cycle during the 45-minute collaboration period that was recently added to the Lower School schedule.

Teacher facilitators include Kristen Keller, Kassandra Humberson, Janna Lettan, Rebecca Farrand, Brian Swauger, and Karen Gaul. Amiena Mashoob, WT's Director of Alumnae/i and Community Relations, has also played an important role in this project for first asking the question about Miss Mitchell to the fifth grade and then providing research materials for the students.

The students' end goal is to use their Miss Mitchell project creations to disseminate Miss Mitchell's story to other Lower School students. To accomplish this, groups are continually reflecting on their progress toward their goal and revising their projects as needed. Students look forward to our Miss Mitchell Project meetings, sharing both the time to collaborate creatively with classmates and the self-directed nature of the project as positives.

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