Hackley’s Lower School Students Participate in ‘Big Experiences’

This spring, Hackley’s Lower School fourth graders welcomed three guest speakers as part of the school-wide focus on Big Experience curricula.

Mayor Wray of Sleepy Hollow joined Lower Schoolers in the Johnson Center for Health and Wellness in February. And in April, Lower Schoolers enjoyed outdoor talks with Michael C. Wirtz, Hackley’s Head of School, and Sleepy Hollow Village Justice Katherine Baldwin ’97, P ’29, ’33, ’35. Hackley’s Big Experience initiatives support efforts put forth by the school’s strategic plan—Redefining Excellence: Learning Beyond Boundaries, deepening focus on students’ local, national, and international responsibilities.

"While the three leaders that visited had different roles, they all shared similar characteristic traits that unified them,” noted Dawn Crainer, Fourth Grade teacher. “The students noticed that they were caring, open-minded, flexible, resilient, patient, respectful, and always owned their mistakes. Each visit was truly enlightening and beneficial as students were treated to an inside look at the work of a mayor, head of school, and village justice."

Mayor Wray’s visit on February 7 was student-led and town hall-style. The students learned what a mayor does, how Mayors accomplish goals, and about exciting projects in the Sleepy Hollow area. During their visits on April 19 and 20, Michael Wirtz spoke about his work at Hackley and journey to become Head of School, and Justice Baldwin—who is both a current parent and a Hackley alumna—spoke about how she became Sleepy Hollow Village Justice and what the job entails. Altogether, these visits helped develop the students’ sense of responsibilities as members of society, and to learn and practice communication skills.  

Hackley’s Big Experience initiatives support a key pillar of the school’s strategic plan—Redefining Excellence: Learning Beyond Boundaries—to redefine a liberal arts education, broadening the curriculum in terms of competencies and experiences to meet the needs of tomorrow’s learners and citizens.