The Taft School

OVERVIEW


The mission of The Taft School has always been to educate the whole student. Its motto, since its founding by
Horace Taft in 1890, has been “not to be served, but to serve.” In 2000, the School completed the Portrait of the
Graduate (POG) as a means of articulating, in greater detail, the central characteristics of a graduate. The creation
of the POG has enhanced the school’s ability to educate the whole student, and now the school seeks to further
this education for students through increased civic engagement.

The Taft School, in partnership with the City of Waterbury and Waterbury Public Schools, plans to create a
Global Center for Leadership and Service (“the Center”). Premised on the philosophy, “think global, act local” and
“servant leadership” the Center will allow students from Taft and Waterbury Public Schools to collaboratively
explore global issues while developing leadership skills to address them. Through this partnership, numerous
tenets of the Taft POG will be enhanced for both Taft and Waterbury Public School students. In particular,
students will:

  • Serve others unselfishly, reflecting and acting upon the School’s motto in both formal and informal contexts: Non ut sibi ministretur, sed ut minister;
  • Respect and appreciate diverse peoples and cultures, and recognize the opportunities inherent in a diverse community;
  • Work cooperatively and collaboratively; willing to subdue their individual needs and desires in order to contribute to the collective efforts of people united in a common purpose;
  • Reflect regularly upon their learning and themselves as learners, leading to greater awareness of themselves as individuals and of their places in the world in which they live.
Funding from the Edward E. Ford Foundation, and the matching funds we plan to raise, will enable us to plan and
create the three primary programs of the Global Center for Leadership and Service: a Global Leadership Institute
(GLI), Mentorship Programs, and a Collaborative Service Learning Course.

GLOBAL LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (GLI)


The past decade has seen the world evolve in transformative ways. Nations, organizations, corporations
and people are technologically and economically interconnected to a historically unprecedented degree.
Simultaneously, we face the enormous challenges of global climate change; huge discrepancies in personal
wealth, living standards, and the respect afforded human rights; entrenched religiously and ethnically based
conflicts; and in recent years, a crisis in markets and finance worldwide. The need for cross-cultural engagement
and inter-cultural understanding has never been greater, both at Taft and within Waterbury. If our graduates are
to understand and be active participants and problems-solvers in our 21st century world, we must collectively
commit to being more intentional and extensive with providing unique opportunities at the local, national and
global levels for students to engage with the pressing issues of today.

Our Global Leadership Institute (GLI) will attract distinguished visiting experts to speak with students
about the leading issues of our times. The GLI will accept twenty students (ten Taft and ten Waterbury students)


into the program each year. Students will apply to the GLI in their freshman year and accepted applicants will
begin the two year-program as sophomores. GLI students will participate in our monthly Global Leadership
Speaker Series as sophomores, a service (internship) experience in the summer prior to their junior year, and by
April of their junior year they must complete a culminating Global Leadership Project (GLP). The GLP is a project
that students will be expected to begin working on during the summer prior to their junior year. The project
requires students to investigate a local, national, or global problem for which they have a genuine concern and
propose possible solutions to the problem in the form of a paper to the GLI Selection Committee and a public
presentation. We will designate a space on Taft’s campus where GLI classes and lectures can be held and projects
can be celebrated.

MENTORSHIP PROGRAM


The 2007 United Way of Greater Waterbury Needs Assessment has identified mentorship as a primary
need for Waterbury children and youth. The findings of this report are consistent with the national demand for
mentors. According to the National Mentoring Partnership (hereinafter known as ‘MENTOR’) “there are currently
18 million children in the United States who want and need a mentor, but only three million have one.”

We will collaborate with MENTOR, the country’s leading champion and resource provider for youth
mentoring programs and its affiliate, the Connecticut Mentoring Partnership (CMP), to create an adult-with-
youth mentoring and cross-age peer mentoring program. Both approaches to mentoring have the capacity to
support young people in their quest to live productive, fulfilling lives. Tapping into Taft’s faculty, local alumni and
Waterbury leaders, we will develop a pipeline of mentor-leaders for the 21st century.

PHASE I: ADULT-with-YOUTH MENTORING PROGRAM


Positive adult-with-youth mentoring relationships show teens that someone cares. Moreover, research
studies have shown these relationships have the potential to yield even greater benefits for young people in the
areas of school, mental health, and problem behavior and health (DuBois & Karcher, 2005; Rhodes, 2002;
Zimmerman, Bingenheimer & Behrendt, 2005). Additionally, mentors can help young people plan and actualize
career goals and serve as a professional resource for internships and jobs. Our program will target “first
generation” Waterbury public school students, i.e., high potential students who will be the first high school
graduates in their families. We will begin the program with twenty-five (25) freshmen in the Fall of 2014.
Growing the program with a new class of freshmen (25) each year, by 2017-2018 the program will serve 100
students. It is our hope that program mentees will eventually feed into our pipe-line of future mentors.

PHASE II: CROSS-AGE PEER MENTORING


Cross-age peer mentoring typically matches a high-school aged mentor with an elementary or middle
school-aged child. Research suggests that cross-age peer mentoring positively impacts both mentor and mentee.


Effective programs are well structured, meet more than ten times, and require an age span difference between
mentor and mentee of at least two years (Karcher, 2007). Our cross-age peer mentoring program will permit
Taft to adopt a low performing Waterbury elementary school. The program will begin in the Fall of 2015 and
train Taft and Waterbury high school students to serve as cross-age peer mentors to elementary student mentees
attending our adopted school(s).

COLLABORATIVE SERVICE LEARNING COURSE


Service learning bridges community service with the academic curriculum. Providing opportunities for
academic achievement, personal and social development, career exploration, and civic responsibility, service
learning is offered in 46% of high schools across the country (Skinner & Chapman, 1999). Unique in its design,
our innovative class will bring together Taft and Waterbury students to participate in a year-long collaborative
service learning course, providing them an opportunity to serve together and learn about our society’s most
pressing global issues in a local context.

"First with the head, then with the heart." Our Service Learning course will combine rigorous academic
classes with challenging community service on the basis that it is not until we are informed that we can be really
useful. Classroom work will focus on global issues such as poverty, literacy, public health, immigration, the
environment and education. Students will also take a tour of Waterbury, visit the Mattatuck Museum to learn
about the City’s past history in relationship to its current context, engage in community asset mapping, and spend
at least one session per week in the local community working with local service partners. All students will
complete regular written assignments as well as participate in a debate and complete one major individual
research paper. Students enrolled in our collaborative service learning course will receive credit for the course
through their respective institutions. Classes will take place at Taft (onsite) and a local Waterbury school, and we
will integrate technology into our curriculum to enhance teaching and learning.

SUMMARY


We believe that our Global Center for Leadership and Service will inspire students to live their lives in the
present and future as thoughtful global citizens and servant-leaders. Funding for our programs will help cover
numerous programmatic expenses such as transportation, technology, and external guest speakers, to name a few.
We also look to hire a Global Service and Scholarship (GSS) Fellow, i.e., a recent college graduate with a passion
for leadership, service and global education, to help implement our programs. We hope to serve as a leading
model for creating effective public-private partnerships and a resource center for local, national and global
leadership and service.