Dear Robinson Community,
It’s hard to believe it’s September…time sure flies when you are engaged and having fun!
One of my favorite things about starting the school year is resuming my morning walk around campus, greeting students, parents, and staff as they arrive. They remind me of why I am here and inspire me to face any challenge the day might bring. As I walk down the halls of this beautiful green campus that so many of us call home, I am often asked, “What makes Robinson such a special place?” At first, the answer seems simple: our sense of community, our faculty, our committed support staff, our students… As we start this school year, I would like to reflect a bit more on this question: What exactly makes Robinson such a special place?
The first thing that came to me was Robinson’s education. After all, that’s what brought us all together: a Robinson education. An education in which its practice fosters independent thinkers, intellectual openness, and inquiry. Our students are problem-solvers with strong social-emotional character traits that give them the skills to overcome any challenge they face.
The Board, staff and I have worked hard to maintain Robinson’s 115-year tradition of academic excellence and educational innovation. Our hard work has paid off and Robinson is now an International Baccalaureate World School, authorized for our Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP), and moving toward the final stages of authorization for our Diploma Program (DP). At Robinson, we teach our students to become lifelong learners by exploring concepts, ideas, and issues that have global relevance and applying their knowledge across a range of disciplines. Students think creatively and critically about the world around them, communicate effectively across cultures, participate actively in their education, use advanced research skills, and apply their knowledge by solving problems in a global context. We empower students for the challenges of today and tomorrow by providing them with a 21st century education. Our commitment to preparing our students academically and intellectually is certainly one of the reasons Robinson is so special.
Beyond just the intellect or mind, Robinson is such a special place because of its heart. Developing our students’ character, spirit, and sense of service is part of our 115-year old mission and holistic approach to education. Robinson students learn to reflect before they act, and to act mindfully with integrity and compassion. Students learn the skills they will need as successful leaders in the 21st century: the confidence to become risk-takers; the reflectiveness to analyze and understand their own strengths and weaknesses; the open-mindedness to seek and consider different points of view; and the self-discipline and perseverance required to achieve their goals. These values match Robinson’s spiritual mission of service. Our students grow up with a personal commitment to action and service. Robinson is such a special place because our students not only succeed, but they also give back.
That combination of heart and mind – character and intellect – is what makes Robinson School and Robinson students so special. Now, that’s the Robinson Difference! It’s what gives our students a leading edge in achieving their goals. I recently attended two events that were powerful examples of what sets Robinson apart, and why our students succeed no matter what. On August 10, our College Counselor, Beatriz Guzmán, held the Young Alumni Panel, an event that happens every semester during which a group of Robinson alumni return to share their experiences with our Secondary School students. (Read more about last year’s panel here. This year, we were proud to welcome home: Laura Shames (Class of 2009), Mariella García (Class of 2016), Mario Font (Class of 2013); Adriana Negrón (Class of 2016), Marco Fraticelli (Class of 2014), Jorlyzmar Medina (Class of 2014), and Gabriela Perdomo (Class of 2016). Robinson believes that peer-to-peer learning is a powerful way for students to connect and learn more effectively from each other. Our alumni serve as both examples and resources for our current students who will soon be following in their footsteps – applying to colleges and contemplating their life after Robinson. The willingness of younger alumni to come back and share their stories with our current community is a testament to their character, leadership, and the spirit of giving back they learned during their years at Robinson School. It’s why they will always be successful and achieve their goals.
Recently, Robinson welcomed US Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) to Robinson thanks to Juan Negrón (Class of 2012), Rep. Beatty’s executive assistant and Robinson alum who comes home again and again to share his experiences with students. (Read more about his previous visit here.) On a recent visit to Puerto Rico where she met with government officials to discuss the issues Puerto Rico is facing and how the US Congress could offer support. Rep. Beatty took the time to meet with us about education in Puerto Rico. During the conversation, we discussed the importance of students learning from challenges and persevering. We spoke about how Robinson prepares our students socially and emotionally, as well as academically. We give them the tools to respond to any situation in a balanced way regardless of the outcome. The ultimate measure of success is students’ ability to bounce back from any setbacks and keep their eyes on the prize. We teach them resilience, determination, and the commitment they need to reach their goals. Rep. Beatty thanked Robinson for preparing such a fine assistant to the US Congress. At Robinson, we encourage them to reach for the stars and take risks. However, we equip them with a social and emotional toolbox that makes “The Robinson Difference.” Our students know how to manage both success and disappointment with dignity. They stay humble with success and learn from any disappointment. They have the singular ability to reflect on what seems like failures and transform them into new opportunities – another example of The Robinson Difference.
We know that school and family are partners in shaping our students and reinforcing what they learn in positive ways. So, now that I’ve begun answering the question “What makes Robinson such a special place?” Here are some of the ways you can be part of the Robinson Difference.”
- School and family work together to provide a support system that encourages inquiry, risk-taking, independence, problem solving, active participation and more
- Get involved – Whether it’s by participating of school events, volunteering to share knowledge and information about your job or your family’s culture, reading to students or working with your child at home – they all promote a well-rounded healthy student.
- Attend parent meetings – These informational meetings allow you and your child to understand our goals, the ways we teach and assess them. Parent meetings bring school and family together for a conversation about how, together we can best prepare your child for college. This is especially important for Robinson students who face a more rigorous and challenging curriculum with IB than they would at any other college-prep school in Puerto Rico. At Robinson, we use IB standards and practices to assess students differently, strengthening their critical-thinking skills so they apply their knowledge in meaningful ways, rather than learning simply by memorizing or “cramming,” like at other schools. Learning about Robinson’s approach learning will help you understand and reinforce the Robinson Difference, which we’ve proven effectively leads our students on the path toward success.
- Understand the way we teach – Students learn to think critically about how different subjects relate to each other in real local and global contexts. Academics cannot be watered down or slowed down; the challenges they face academically will sharpen other tools in their toolbox – again, perseverance and resilience are key.
- Make connections between what your child learns in school and the outside world. “Give-and-take” conversations at home with your child will help them learn to better communicate and help you to better understand (and participate in) the Robinson Difference.
As we begin this school year, I invite you to ask yourself: As a parent, how can I participate in my child’s education? You are already part of the Robinson family. Now, become part of the Robinson Difference!
Here are a few ways you can help your child at home:
- Learn new things – Parents are children’s first role models. Model the desire to learn new things and think creatively. These are sources of innovation, and innovation leads the future.
- Be active inquirers – Ask questions and search for answers with your children.
- Help your child take charge of their own learning. If your child actively participates in their own education, a lifelong love of learning will take root and grow organically.
- Read! Read! Read! – Reading encourages inquiry, comprehension, communication, and creativity. Students can explore a variety of worlds – real and imagined – through literature.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! – The more students practice anything, the better they get.
- Learn about the way your child learns – Be an active observer of their individual learning style. Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner or do they learn better by doing?
- Encourage active learning and independence.
Help your child maintain a healthy study-life balance – This guarantees that students will live a rich and full life. They need to learn to keep things in perspectives, while pursuing their passions and maintaining healthy relationships.
PS: Please visit our website and Facebook page from time to time for news and announcements.