View Full Version : All NYC Frank Patti, Hewitt's New Head of Lower School, Sings Praises of Single-Sex Education

09-10-2012, 02:23 PM
From DNAinfo.com (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120910/upper-east-side/new-head-of-hewitts-lower-school-sings-praises-of-single-sex-education) by Amy Zimmer:

A former second and fourth grade teacher at the all-boys Collegiate and then the elementary division head of the co-ed Mandell School — both on the Upper West Side — Frank Patti has moved across town this year to a new role as the head of lower school at Hewitt.

The independent school for girls from kindergarten through 12th grade — which has a yearly tuition of $39,400 — has been around for more than 90 years. The elegant townhouse at 3 East 76th St. housing the 182 girls in the lower school’s grades K through 3, has rooms dotted with grand fireplaces and huge wood-paneled windows.

DNAinfo.com New York talked to Patti about his vision for the lower school.

Q. What about single-sex education was interesting?

FP: I think it’s the ability of the teachers to really be able to differentiate and focus and zoom in on boys or girls and to really consider learning styles and what’s best for children as learners. Collegiate did such a great job at looking at how boys learn, that after years of being there, I thought, ‘This is it, I was born to teach boys.’

When I ended up at the Mandell School, which is co-ed, after two days, it dawned on me it wasn’t an all-boys education I was in love with, it’s just the single-sex education world. I saw there was another world of girls in the classroom and how they learn and operate.

Q. What are some differences between the way boys and girls learn?

FP: Teachers of boys need to understand they learn through doing. It’s OK for boys to move around and that actually boys are in their resting state when they’re actually doing something. I had boys in my classroom at Collegiate who could be rolling around on the carpet. But a good teacher knows they could be completely tuned in. there are many boys who really thrive in that environment.

For girls, they need an environment that allows for us to empower them to use their voices and make their voices stronger. That’s what I started to realize when I was at Mandell and I was watching boys and girls interact. So, after working at Mandell for two years, I thought it was a great next step for me to move on to all-girls as a next phase.

Girls need to move around in the classroom, too. Girls love to build with blocks. Girls love to construct things. We need to make sure we offer that to our girls, as well. Experiential learning is really a part of our strategic plan, so they’re learning through doing as well as listening.

Q. Can you give me some examples of what Hewitt’s integrated curriculum will look like?

FP: An integrated curriculum is important for kids because it connects the dots for them. So instead of a child exploring a topic in one classroom and walking out and doing something completely different, good planning and good professional development for teachers allows us to connect everything for them. It makes it meaningful for them. It helps them to understand what we’re studying in the context of the real world. Frida Kahlo doesn’t end in art class. We talk about her in social studies, in writing, in geography. We do extra work as teachers to connect the dots.

It’s like when you’re riding the subway and you see another train across the platform you want to connect with and it pulls away. You think, ‘Just one more second and we could have made that connection and it would have been dynamite.’ I think it’s the same thing with teachers. If you don’t stop and take the time to make that connection for the kids, they miss out.

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