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Grade Level Programming: Dive

Sarah O'Neill
At Tilton School, our goal to ignite a lifelong passion for learning within our students is supported by Grade Level Programming. Grade Level Programming brings teams of faculty together with students to solve problems, think deeply and work together to navigate their world. Each grade level culminates with a significant performance moment in which students demonstrate the skills and knowledge that they have mastered during the course of the year.

Tilton juniors are members of the
DIVE Program, headed by Megan Killigrew who is a member of the English faculty. The theme of the 11th grade program is “Development of Ethical Thinking & Active Citizenship. When designing programming, the DIVE team outlines four main goals:
  • For students to find out where they fit in their community
  • To develop greater confidence and independence as a learner
  • Tap into individual strengths and weaknesses
  • Address the all-school question: “What actions must we take, individually and collectively, to create a community of respect and civility, justice and empathy?”
To achieve these goals, juniors must use and strengthen our five essential skills:
  • Critical Thinking
  • Mindfulness
  • Innovation and Design Thinking
  • Creative Engagement
  • Communication
“As juniors, students have just come out of a sophomore program that’s about where you fit into the community you are apart of. Now that students are getting into more diversified course plans, starting to spread out in terms of courses they’re taking before they begin the college process, we tried to design 11th grade level programming to be a way for students to tap into what their individual strengths and weakness are, giving them opportunities to explore those,” Killigrew says.

The main project for this year’s DIVE Grade Level Programming has been to complete a job shadow. An idea born from student feedback solicited during their sophomore year. In the beginning of the school year, students had different opportunities to think about what inspires and pushes them. With these thoughts in mind, students are then encouraged to choose a field of study or career.

“Rather than saying I want to be a lawyer, we’re trying to get students to think ‘ok, well I am really interested in learning about equity and justice, and how do we build a more equitable world?’ for instance. Then maybe that student could shadow with an advocate or non-profit organization that does advocacy work,” Killigrew says. “Rather than have it be about the thing or the title, we want it be about the essence of that experience.”

After students decided on a field of study or career path, the next step was to find an active job shadow they could be apart of. This is where Tilton School Field Coordinator Andrea Deluca comes in. At the beginning of the year, Deluca reached out to a variety of businesses and individuals to see if they would be willing to let a student job shadow with them for two 8-hour work days. If students want to work with a different company or individual, they can either find them on their own or Deluca will assist in helping them find it.

“I think this process benefits the students in a number of ways,” DeLuca says. “This might turn into a potential career down the line, but it also helps them to see what the day-to-day looks like in a job. That it’s not just excitement; there are tedious tasks that need to get done. It’s also helpful for them to realize that this may not be a career they will enjoy before they go through college.”

Once they’ve found and secured someone to job shadow, students are left to come up with a schedule with the shadow. The intention is for them to keep a diary or a journal during the shadow describing what they’ve learned and write a reflection piece afterwards. The reflection can take form in writing, an interview, or a video.

Killigrew said one of the most rewarding parts of this experience is seeing students come out of their shell and present some unexpected interests.

“It’s been really fun to see students reaching out about wanting to shadow with a police officer, for example. We have a student interested in fashion who is trying to get to New York City and Fashion Week. Students are also realizing that there are opportunities closer to home within the surrounding Tilton community.”

Looking forward to the rest of the year, juniors still have the opportunity to complete their job shadow over the next couple of months. Students are wrapping up a mini research project meant to be a peek into what their senior year Capstone project might be like. After spring break, DIVE students will begin working on a portfolio review. Killigrew refers to this as a “pulse check.” It’s for juniors to look at their high school career thus far, and pinpoint their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

For more info on Tilton’s Grade Level Programming, visit the Tilton School website.  

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