A Delphian School education is free from the fetters of traditional schooling. Here, pupils are the doers, the makers and the fixers. They are nurtured to master academics, following wide-ranging curricula designed for curious, compassionate and driven students. Their strengths, weaknesses and interests are prioritised in all modules, from literature to science, from foreign language to history and the arts.
At the soccer field or volleyball court, they develop leadership skills, self-confidence and the ability to work with their peers as a team. They take part in a robust reading programme. They receive faculty support to nurture life skills. They get involved with hands-on projects, community service, and more. Here, young people are given the know-how, skills and experience for an enriching life beyond graduation. Without the rigidity of age-based, grade-level education, their potential for success gets to flourish.
Alumna Zoe Croman would know. She comes from a family who has attended and experienced the pathway to success that Delphian School provides — she, her sister and her mother attended the hilltop campus 50 miles south of Portland, Oregon with 720 acres of rolling hills, meadows, forest and farmlands.
Looking back at her experience, Croman says, “Delphian was able to cater to me as an individual; I could steam ahead in reading and spend as much time as I needed in math” — all of which she couldn’t do at her previous school where she was held back in some classes and left behind in the others. “It was an environment in which everyone was creative and hardworking — it inspired me to prove to myself and others what I was capable of,” she shares.
At Delphian School, there is no need to worry about interrupted school days, terms or, like we’ve experienced in 2020, full academic years. Putting pupils’ aptitude first, instead of their age, is at peak relevance. There is little concern about stop-starts or other interruptions, pandemic-related or otherwise, that can derail progress here. The Delphian School’s distinctive competency-based education ensures every student can fill in the gaps and get back on track.
With 45 years of experience in meeting students where they are at and helping them move forward from there at their own optimum pace, they are established leaders in this. When asked about whether her child is benefiting from the Delphian School’s decision to move away from age-based teaching, Class of 1999 graduate Hailley Arezzini enthuses, “Love it. She is succeeding. She took to this very well.”
Croman agrees. “Grades are not an accurate representation of skill and ability. More than that: D- is a passing grade. 59% is a passing grade. If someone built only 59% of a bridge correctly, you wouldn’t want to walk across it. So why would you send kids on to a higher level or more advanced academic studies if they only got 59% of the previous studies correct? Don’t even get me started on grading on a curve,” she says.
Seamless and flexible
The Delphi Programme, developed and refined over 40 years and counting, begins with core academic subjects such as literature, math, science, languages, history and the arts. It then expands to real-life subjects such as communication, ethics, integrity, leadership, logic and human rights. To graduate, students have the flexibility to customise their programme to best fit their interests while still achieving a high level of understanding and competence.
The school’s holistic aims are supported by their co-curricular programme that is broad, distinctive and well rounded, believing in the quality of school sports and placing importance on the enduring value of Music; Fine Art; Theatre; and Digital Art and Film Production.
Alumna, former parent and former staff Christine Perpelitt explains how the school’s competency-based approach fits into the Delphi Programme: “So much development happens in early childhood, that it’s not productive for any young child to base their educational success on grades. Lower School students should just be interested, and teachers need to foster their curiosity in a wide variety of subjects. Elementary and Middle School students become aware when they aren’t achieving goals appropriate to their age and ability.”
“Since Delphian students have the flexibility of time, there is no reason a student can’t get straight A’s. If they aren’t, they should know that so they can be in control of their academic statistics,” she adds.
Riley Croman, Zoe’s sister and fellow alumna, loves the philosophy of not using grade-based teaching. “Delphi’s programme puts understanding as the most important variable,” she explains. “You can take the time to really understand something that is hard for you, and you can zoom through the things that you understand easily.” At the Delphian School, time, pandemics and archaic practices are no barriers to true progress.