If you run a search of the top ten universities in the world, you’ll invariably see two universities consistently at or near the top: University of Cambridge and University of Oxford. What do they have going for them and what makes them stand out? History is one factor: they’ve been around longer than almost any other academic institution of their kind. They also teach differently than most other centers of higher learning: every student has a one-on-one (sometimes one-on-two or one-on-three) instructor, whom Cambridge calls a supervisor and Oxford calls a tutor. Depending on which university and which college within it, the student meets with his or her tutor (supervisor) one to four times per week, in addition to lecture courses and group sessions in labs, etc. Those two distinguished universities and their centuries of scholars and students have seen that a combination of individualized instruction and group interaction on academic subjects serves most effectively to challenge a student, to make the most of his or her capacities, and to advance the student to the next level of ability and scholarship.
Although Kildonan of course isn’t modeled on the pair of schools sometimes called “Oxbridge,” our British founder created, half a century ago, a school that would provide that rich combination of individual and group work that no other secondary school we know of matches. Diana King saw that a large population of students who struggle with language in its written form could advance to college and succeed there if trained professionals (a.) worked with them individually, (b.) recognized and furthered their talents, and (c.) fostered fun interactions with similarly dynamic, similarly complex learners. We have Diana to thank for Kildonan, and we have our current teachers to thank for taking that vision and expanding it into the full program of skills advancement, college prep, athletic opportunity, and social confidence-building that you witness at Kildonan today.
Any organization, whether in England or here, that takes on such a mission and adheres to it will have to reckon with high overhead costs and contemporary youth phenomena in the realms of social media and sharply increasing teen anxiety. But those challenges are worth the goal of opening a future to our students that the rest of society would keep closed to them. Thank you for making our faculty’s magic happen through your support of our Annual Fund and through your volunteer activity on our behalf. Kildonan’s work is singular in character and in its results, and you’re helping to preserve it.
-With deep gratitude,