LifeReady - Academics - McDonogh School

LifeReady

What is LifeREady?

LifeReady, McDonogh’s Academic Strategic Plan, guides how we teach and what we teach— inside and outside the classroom. 

Developed by faculty and administrators following McDonogh’s accreditation by the Association of Independent Maryland Schools in 2012, LifeReady promises an exceptional and rigorous education that readies students to meet the challenges of a complex and changing world.

LifeReady inspires joy in learning and prepares students to excel in traditional subjects from history and literature to science and mathematics. At the same time, it challenges students to apply canonical knowledge to real-world situations rather than merely recall conceptual knowledge for an end-of-unit test. This approach better equips students for the rigors of higher education and the increasing demands of a professional career. 

No matter what our students pursue in life, they will be armed with deep foundational knowledge. Even more importantly, they will possess the ability to overcome complex, difficult challenges with clarity and integrity. This is what sets the LifeReady graduate apart. 

Teaching students how to think—not what to think—is the best protector of justice in a healthy democracy. At its core, LifeReady empowers students to be self-reliant, critical thinkers who can form, test, and revise their ideas—for themselves, and in the service of others.

When the kids are engaged and get their hands dirty, they relate to that experience and learn so much better. The kids are collaborating, being creative, and they have ownership. This is LifeReady.

—Gregg Kleiman, Middle School Faculty

 

THE ACADEMIC PROGRAM: AN ONGOING COMMITMENT

McDonogh deeply honors its commitment to academic rigor and to life preparation. We remain diligent in preparing students to excel in traditional subjects from history and literature to science and mathematics. 

LifeReady academics routinely asks students to apply canonical knowledge to real-world situations rather than merely recall conceptual knowledge for an end-of-unit test. This approach better prepares students for the rigors of higher education and the increasing demands of a professional career. No matter what our students pursue in life, they will be armed with deep foundational knowledge. Even more importantly, they will possess the ability to think and overcome complex, difficult challenges. 

McDonogh has always guided students on their journey from the fundamentals of a liberal arts education through the most complex topics and ideas. LifeReady’s academic framework ensures that students will encounter well-rounded, time-tested content and ideas required for a successful life.

Content is only part of the story. How students learn matters just as much. Informed by recent research on how the human brain learns, insights from credible ethnography, and our own teachers’ collective wisdom, students learn with a greater awareness of context and purpose. They are encouraged to create with new knowledge and skills and to forge meaningful connections from one discipline to the next—the way, in fact, most learning happens in life.

A McDonogh education isn’t just about the test grade or even college admission—it’s about empowering students with the freedom to learn for themselves and in ways that make the world, quite simply, better.

This overarching vision of education is expressed in three dynamic, inclusive competencies that cross-cut all areas of academic and extracurricular life at McDonogh. Graduates will be able to:

  • Communicate well in a variety of arenas
  • Form questions and solve problems in groups and on their own
  • Adapt, lead, and think for the good of communities both global and local

We believe these competencies ensure a valuable, durable education for each and every child. 

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

At McDonogh, we believe that the will to do the greatest good can be developed in children. We also believe that the greatest good can be realized in a world that increasingly demands the very best we can offer to each other.

The promise of LifeReady is that learning be deep, collaborative, authentic, and global. Guided by that promise, educating for a diverse world means more than simply exposing students to the achievements and stories of others, important as those elements are. It also means that day-to-day classroom practices—i.e. pedagogy—should help students enact the kinds of thinking and collaboration they’ll need to work and thrive across lines of difference in the real world. 

When students form and solve problems in groups, they draw on each other’s strengths and learn to resolve conflicts as they arise. When they encounter curricular material that represents a wide range of voices and experiences, they learn about who they are and how they fit into a larger community and world. As such, our students  learn how to transcend their own single experience to be enriched by the experience of others. 

By design, LifeReady competencies transcend any particular discipline or learning domain, uniting different kinds of learning to prepare students academically, culturally, relationally, and emotionally. 

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING

To be a steward of the greater good is, quite simply, to be a student from McDonogh School.

At McDonogh, we acknowledge and seek to enact key concepts that are at the heart of our Character Compass: honesty, kindness, respect, responsibility, and—centrally—service. 

Inspired by the research from The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), McDonogh continues to develop an intentional, spiralling program so that each and every child graduates with the support to live a healthy, sound, purposeful life.

As such, LifeReady also places a significant emphasis on social and emotional learning and whole-person wellness, with core competencies for all students in age-appropriate ways. These include:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Physical Wellness
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision Making
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Social Engagement
     

LIFEREADY: WHAT WE STAND FOR

McDonogh School promises to maintain the very best of what has made us so successful for nearly 150 years: powerful relationships, expert teachers, and appropriate resources. But McDonogh also promises to continue to develop—now and long into the future—new modes of learning that respond to current and evolving imperatives. 

These imperatives demand students who think deeply and well, leverage the richness of working in diverse communities, keep the greater good primary in their thoughts and actions, and understand that to serve is at the heart of one’s purpose in life.

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