Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Students are hungry for relevant learning that will best position them for success in the future; however, recent trends in adolescent behavior make clear that close attention to the physical and emotional health and well-being of children is of paramount importance in schools. This means we must prioritize educating students in how to care for themselves, and provide support systems that facilitate their growth in these areas. 


As MFS leans into our twin pillars of academic excellence and spiritual/ethical growth, we want to continue to nurture the whole child and encourage students to maintain a sense of balance. We also know that the most meaningful and academically rich learning happens when it is authentically connected to the real world. Children should experience learning in a hands-on way, pursuing questions of inquiry that give them a sense of purpose and connection to their communities. Teachers play an important role in effectively providing deep, experiential learning that emphasizes student voice. Through each of the four strategic priority areas, MFS will examine its approaches to teaching and learning and explore ways to provide immersive learning experiences that allow students to demonstrate their growth, personal development, and mastery in practical and visible ways.

Guiding Queries

  • How might we reconsider time and schedule in service of deep student learning and community well-being?
  • How might we prioritize faculty collaboration time in a way that elevates immersive, interdisciplinary teaching and learning?
  • How can academic rigor and student well-being be seen as mutually beneficial and equally important?


Students will explore their passions in a way that allows them to apply content and skills to real-world contexts and communities. Student learning, both in and out of the classroom, will prioritize deep inquiry, without compromising foundational aspects of health and well-being that are the foundation for continued growth and peak performance throughout one’s life.


Honor health and well-being as central to our definition of student success.

Upcoming Initiatives:

  • Review and strengthen academic and social-emotional supports for students
  • Build a daily schedule that balances educational program and student well-being 
  • Host guest speakers and experts on wellness and social-emotional learning


Broadly integrate approaches to curriculum, instruction, and assessment that best promote student growth and learning.

Upcoming Initiatives:

  • Invest in professional development for teachers on strategic initiatives and authentic, inquiry-based approaches to teaching
  • Implement a new professional growth and evaluation program for teachers

Teaching & Learning Snapshot

Essential Life Skills Course Prepares Upper School Students Students for Day-to-Day Living

The first semester of the 2023-24 school year saw the debut of Essential Life Skills as an option for 11th and 12th grade students – a course taught by a variety of MFS faculty on a wide range of topics that will prepare students for the rest of their lives. The topics were divided into four units spread throughout the semester which featured explorations that spanned from one day to two weeks: 

  • How-To (car maintenance, cooking, sewing, table etiquette, laundry, cleaning)
  • Personal Finance (budgeting, saving, investing, credit cards, retirement planning)
  • Professional Skills (networking and small talk, informational interviews, email etiquette)
  • Well-being (happiness, mindfulness, healthy relationships, personal safety)

Head of School Julia de la Torre served as Lead Teacher for the course.

“We designed this course in response to alumni feedback that, although well prepared for college, they wish they had had exposure to more practical life skills,” she said. “”As our students head to college and beyond, we want to make sure they are not only academically prepared for what’s next, but that they have the practical skills to manage many of life’s opportunities and challenges.”  – Head of School Julia de la Torre

Sessions included (with instructor listed):

  • Laundry – Mitali Pande, Lower School Assistant Teacher
  • Car Repair and Maintenance – Matt Lubicky, MS/US Science Teacher
  • Small Talk and Social Gatherings – Mitali Pande
  • Table Etiquette – Hunter Harris, Development Office Assistant
  • Simple Cooking – Meredith Godley, Associate Head of School and Academic Dean
  • Sustainable Cleaning – Pauline Williams, Preschool Assistant Teacher
  • Sewing – Jenny Ragghianti, Kindergarten Teacher
  • Saving and Investing – Dan Sussman (US English Teacher) and Scott Hanson (MS/US Math Teacher)
  • Credit Cards – Hunter Harris
  • Small Talk for Professional Settings – Mitali Pande
  • Networking and Informational Interviews – Julia de la Torre, Head of School
  • Email Etiquette – Mitali Pande
  • Happiness and Mindfulness – Susan Batastini, Director of Wellness and Student Support
  • Healthy Relationships – Ted Quinn, Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Personal Safety – Ashlynne Thomson, Associate Director of College Counseling

Student feedback:

One of the most important skills to learn was self defense, which made me feel more equipped to be on my own. I think that this class was a great way of preparing us to go out into the world and be successful adults. Anna Thomson ’25

“My favorite lesson was table etiquette because it was fun to learn, and something I wasn’t sure about beforehand.” Rebecca Liu ’25

The most valuable skills for me were learning how to fix a hole in a clothing garment by sewing and many different aspects of personal financial literacy. Vikram Verma ’25

It is anticipated that the course will return as a one-semester course for 11th and 12th grade students in 2024-25.

Click video to watch: Rebecca Liu ’25 demonstrates how to fold clothes, one of many skills learned in the Essential Life Skills course.

Click video to watch: Vikram Verma ’25 shows how to cook scrambled eggs, one of many skills learned in the Essential Life Skills course.

Click to view photos from the Essential Life Skills course.


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