Mission & Values
The Gunston School offers an intellectually rigorous, highly personalized, and nurturing college preparatory educational experience. Valuing a healthy balance between mind and body, a strong sense of community, the creative process, and our connection to the Chesapeake Bay, Gunston strives to educate ethically and environmentally minded scholars, citizens, and leaders for our globalized society.
The Responsibilities of the Community
Each new student and faculty member at Gunston, upon their Embarkation to campus, signs the Responsibilities of the Community, thereby pledging themselves to uphold our high community standards. They pledge:
We the students, faculty, staff, and families of The Gunston School commit ourselves to a high standard of honor, and endeavor to live by the following principles:
- Respect for and trust in oneself, the school, and each other
- Responsibility for personal and academic excellence
- Awareness and appreciation of differences
- Honesty in speech and action
- Promotion and practice of camaraderie
By affirming these principles in daily exchanges, we create an environment which encourages responsibility, mutual trust, and personal growth.
The Gunston School endorses a student-centered philosophy that encourages achievement and personal growth by emphasizing the balanced development of the whole student— intellectually, morally, culturally, and physically. Within this broad statement of philosophy we are committed to:
Gunston delivers a unique, personalized educational experience to each student. Our small class sizes allow for sustained one-on-one communication between teachers and students and encourage in-depth critical thinking. We support students as they progress along their paths by tailoring advising, scheduling, and college counseling to match the diverse personalities, abilities, and potentials of the individual students.
The Learning Experience
The learning experience at Gunston flows from the goal of cultivating curiosity, ownership, self-reflection, confidence, and self-direction in every student. We create a learning environment that builds knowledge and skills, engages students in authentic, real-world tasks, uses multiple modalities for instruction and demonstration of student understanding, pursues interdisciplinary connections, and provides students a high degree of intellectual autonomy and agency. We offer a relentlessly student-centered climate that promotes a growth-mindset, honors diverse student needs and capacities, is emotionally astute, and explicitly mentors students in the development of study, metacognitive, and executive functioning skills.
Educating for Sustainability
Gunston acknowledges the interrelatedness of all species and the vital role every human being plays as part of the biosphere. Moreover, because we believe that environmental stress is a central challenge facing humanity, we seek to inspire in all members of our school community a commitment to environmental responsibility by placing three tenets of sustainability—ecological integrity, social justice, and economic vitality—at the center of our institutional and curricular efforts. Through classwork and co-curricular programming, an ongoing pursuit of sustainable practices, intensive and rigorous environment-based educational experiences for all students across all disciplines, and diverse environmental stewardship opportunities for students, we fulfill our mission of educating environmentally-minded scholars, citizens, and leaders.
Fostering a Sense of Community
Ours is an intentional, values-driven, safe, and supportive community that exists to promote personal growth and a strong sense of belonging. The Responsibilities of the Community articulate the values that guide us, and all members pledge to uphold and celebrate them. Gunston fosters a culture of high expectations while understanding, but not excusing, the fallibility of adolescence. Students learn to engage in behavior that demonstrates respect for themselves, the school, and the diversity within our society.
Building Leadership Skills
We believe that leadership is a skill that can be learned by every person. Through opportunities in and outside of the classroom, we seek to develop in each student the skills, vision, self-knowledge, motivation, and sense of responsibility necessary to lead effectively. Our expectation is that Gunston students will serve as positive, just, compassionate, and productive leaders.
Cultivating Creative Expression
We believe that the creative spirit animates all fields of human endeavor, that creativity is a teachable skill, and that every student possesses creative gifts that should be identified, nurtured, and shared. Although creativity exists in all disciplines, we place a uniquely high value on the visual and performing arts, and we encourage each member of the community to pursue their artistic interests with zeal.
Preparing for a Global Future
We live in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent global society, and Gunston aims to offer students a curriculum rich in global issues, voices, and perspectives. By deliberately teaching the skills of cultural competence, and educating students about transnational issues—like extreme poverty and hunger, peace and conflict, health and education disparities, gender inequality, racism, and environmental sustainability—Gunston empowers students with the skills to work effectively beyond local, national, and linguistic boundaries, across cultures, and in pursuit of resolving shared global challenges. We also seek to embrace the uniquely global nature of Gunston’s student population in all of our endeavors.
We instill in all members of the community a sense of civic responsibility and an awareness of our role as stewards of the school, the natural environment, and the community beyond the school. Our school's commitment to service reflects an expansive concept of community that includes individuals and organizations in local, state, regional, national, and international areas.
Developing Technological Fluency
In a world where technology is powerful and ubiquitous, Gunston uses it as a tool to enhance the teaching and learning process. We are committed to preparing all of our students to use technology fluently and responsibly as a vehicle for learning, creativity, communication, and productivity.
As students transition into adulthood, we are dedicated to empowering and equipping them with the life skills essential to resilience and lifelong success. Sustained by trusting relationships and authentic dialogue between generations, our culture of safety and wellbeing promotes beneficial lifelong habits in the domains of mental, emotional, physical, and financial health. Supporting students through advisory groups and social activities, academic and psychological services, and targeted educational programming, we provide comprehensive tools and resources to reinforce healthy personal choices in the realms of nutrition, sleep, interpersonal relationships, sexual health, substance use, and self-care.
Athletics & Fitness
In the service of inspiring a lifetime commitment to physical health and vigor in every student, Gunston’s program of daily athletics and fitness is an essential space where character, athletic skill, physical vitality, leadership capacity, and a mind-body balance are forged. A diverse range of offerings seeks to serve both elite and emerging athletes in a manner that maximizes the fresh air and waterfront access uniquely afforded by our 75-acre Corsica River campus. Guided by skilled and supportive coaching, we pursue varsity-level competitive excellence, value a participatory ethos, champion the values of honor and fair play, foster the values of self-discipline, and promote esprit de corps.
Embarking on a Lifetime of Learning
Acknowledging the wisdom that the beginning of learning is knowing that there is always more to learn, Gunston cultivates the habits of mind and the intellectual risk-taking that foster a lifetime of inquiry. We believe that students should develop a sense of ownership for their education, and we seek to make the educational process challenging, exciting, and engaging so that students will embrace the joy of learning as a life long pursuit.
Gunston promotes an environment that values the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, and we seek to educate our community to expect, navigate, and embrace difference in a thoughtful and civil manner. As such, we endeavor to create and sustain an inclusive and equitable community that welcomes individuals from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. We strive to cultivate an understanding and appreciation of diversity that includes, but is not limited to, age, ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity, nationality, neurodiversity, physical ability, political perspectives, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. As a school, we are committed to offering extensive, ongoing educational programming and professional development to support the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Gunston Teacher
In the pursuit of an active, highly engaging, and deep learning experience for all students, Gunston is committed to offering ambitious, transformative, innovative, and research-informed instruction. To this end, excellence in teaching at Gunston reflects each teacher’s commitment to igniting intellectual passion and interest in each student, sustaining a mastery of pedagogy and subject-matter content, gaining a sophisticated understanding of Mind-Brain Education science, and offering a high degree of care and empathy for adolescents. The school and our teachers model the lifelong learning process through an ongoing commitment to instructional best practices and professional growth, and by sharing individual talents through our robust co-curricular program.