A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

The Power of Emotions

Posted by Kristin Crawford on October 22, 2018

In Meeting for Worship, a first grader was moved to share the message bubbling up in her. “Every day isn't always going to be cupcakes and rainbows.  Some days you have to pause and take a moment for your emotions.”

Emotions are a full-blown reality for children.  Happiness, frustration, anger, joy, silliness, excitement, disappointment.  They swirl around in their minds and bodies.

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Topics: Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers, Help with learning

How I Found My Authentic Voice

Posted by Westtown School on September 26, 2018

As a new ninth-grader at Westtown—a 14-hour plane ride from his home—Yiheng Xie was

once told his accent was hard to define. In this (abridged) reflection delivered at graduation, Yiheng explores the connection between voice and family history—the “grit and sand” in his words—and how every person and experience we carry with us, can leave its mark. 

Yiheng was awarded a Faculty Letter of Commendation, Westtown School’s highest recognition for achievement and citizenship, three years in a row. He currently attends Brown University.

My freshman-year proctor once said, “You have a unique accent.” It couldn’t be easily defined—it wasn't simply Chinese or American, refined or crude. Puzzling over why, I decided to trace its origin.

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Topics: Student Life at Westtown, Inspiring the Best in Kids, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

Ready, Set, Learn!

Posted by Nancy vanArkel on August 22, 2018


Getting ready for school takes more than a new notebook and bookbag. Help your child be ready for success by taking a few additional steps now.

Sleep: Many of us change our sleep patterns over the summer. Now is the time to begin to adjust your child’s bedtime and wake time back to a school-year routine. Adequate and consistent sleep makes a huge difference in a child’s ability to learn, and a child who is sleepy for the first week of school may have a hard time recovering.

Summer Reading: You can’t read too much in the summer! If your child completed their summer reading earlier in the summer, take some time to review the book so the story and characters are fresh in their minds. Page through the book, create a chart of characters and relationships, or journal about a particular plot twist.  

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

Dive on in...to a good book!

Posted by Lynn Clements & Victoria Jones on July 24, 2018

No matter what adventures your summer has in store for you, we hope that the longer days and warm nights provide a little extra time for you to dive into a book or two. We asked our experts here at Westtown to make a few recommendations for those looking for a good read. Here is what they suggested:    

We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter, is historical fiction based on the story of the author’s grandfather’s family. At 15, Hunter learned that she was from a family of Holocaust survivors and she did meticulous research for many years to learn the story of their escape from Poland to all parts of the world. She tells the stories of five siblings, from March, 1939 to April, 1947, and each character reveals the strength and fragility of the human spirit.

For the perfect beach read, After Anna, by Chester County author, Lisa Scottoline, is a suspenseful mystery, with an unexpected twist at the end. Maggie has the chance to be reunited with her only daughter, Anna, a child she thought she might never see again. The sweet reunion quickly turns dark, when Anna comes to live with Maggie, her husband Noah, and their son. Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime, and there are a few red herrings along the way.

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Summer: Keep Moving Forward!

Posted by Westtown School on June 20, 2018


At some point during the summer, many parents worry about their children losing some of the knowledge they gained during the school year or worse - falling behind. With this in mind, we have asked our in-house reading and college prep experts to share a few tips on how to keep children (of all ages) moving forward.

Students of All Ages:
Betsy Swan, Librarian for Westtown’s Upper & Middle Schools reminds us of the importance of reading. Swan shares that some of the most empowering advice we can give children is that – with the exception of books assigned for classes – if you don’t like a book, you don’t have to finish it. Kids will read more independently and happily when they find a book they want to read, so encourage them to sample.

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids, Help with learning

Boarding School: The Perfect Balance

Posted by Whitney Suttell & Linda Rosenberg McGuire on May 30, 2018

In her book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, psychologist Lisa Damour describes the familiar and emotional process  in which teens begin to separate from their parents, assert their independence, and latch on firmly to a tribe of their peers. Damour writes, “By the end of adolescence, we expect that [teenagers] will loosen their close ties to their families and strengthen their connections with their peers.” This process, while normal and necessary for healthy adult development, can be challenging for teens and their parents alike. Providing teens with appropriate ways to assert their independence and ensuring there is a supportive safety net is essential. For some families, boarding school provides the perfect balance of independence and support.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

The Impact of a Teacher

Posted by Kristin Crawford on May 10, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Day made me think about my favorite teachers and why they still hold a place in my heart and mind.  There are three of them.

Mrs. McCall was my first grade teacher.  This was the first time I was away from my home all day as the first grade classes were in an annex 10 miles from my house.  It was far away from my mother and I felt it. Yet, Mrs. McCall loved me and I knew that too. I wasn’t special. She loved everyone.  Her love gave me the courage to trust school. In a class permeated by safety and order, she created the conditions where risk was ok, and because I could take a risk, I unlocked the mysteries of reading and writing.   All because of Mrs. McCall. There was magic in her teaching, and believing she loved me, I was smitten and loved her back.

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Kindness & Teamwork: A Mindset for All Ages

Posted by Kristin Crawford on February 22, 2018


It is hard to believe it was almost two months ago when many of us were developing resolutions for the new year. As we know, all too well, absolute resolutions are quickly and easily broken. This year I thought maybe a mindset resolution is better than an absolute. So, the resolutions I set out for our Lower School students are more of a mindset. We are asking the children to keep in mind two ways of thinking about others:  being kind and being part of a team.

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids, Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers, Communication and Children

Gifts You Will Not Want to Put Down

Posted by Lynn Clements on November 29, 2017


Whether you are just starting to think about holiday gifts for your children, or you are looking for ideas for those last few gifts, books always make a wonderful gift!  A book that makes an engaging family read-aloud over the holidays can become a beloved tradition, and one that your children will begin to anticipate each holiday season. Time to relax and read together also provides some much-needed rest for everyone in these long days of winter.

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids, Help with learning

Homework - Help Your Middle Schooler Succeed

Posted by Nancy vanArkel on November 14, 2017

Getting your Middle Schooler to focus on academics is one of the great challenges of parenting. Friends, social networking, sports, video games, and even just staring blankly in the mirror can all hold more interest. Here are six things I’ve seen great parents do to help their children focus on learning.

  • Act as if your child is already the responsible person you hope they will become. Our kids rise – and fall – to meet our expectations. Whether we say them out loud or not.
  • Be interested in your child’s learning – and share your own. Instead of just asking what she learned in school today, share what you learned at work or on the news. While your children work on homework, set aside your own time for reading, writing in a journal or learning to do something new. Communicate through your actions that you value learning as a life-long activity, not just to get good grades in school.
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Topics: Building Self-Esteem in Teens, Help with learning