Walk around Noble and Greenough on any school day, and you will see students interacting with teachers. Of course you will see them in class. But they also may be sitting over lunch with their advisors, perching on a bench in Shattuck Schoolhouse to go over a paper, walking down to a field together before practice or hanging out before play practice begins. These easy, productive exchanges characterize the relationships that Nobles students have with faculty and form the foundation of all learning at Nobles.
Nobles maintains a student-teacher ratio of five to one and a commitment to a modern version of the traditional “teacher/coach,” model where every faculty member plays a role in the lives of students outside the classroom. Serving others, whether in our backyard or on the other side of the world is part of our mission as a school. The school encodes the importance of these relationships in its mission statement: “…through mentoring relationships, we motivate students to achieve their highest potential and to lead lives characterized by service to others.”
Head of Upper School Ben Snyder says, “The reason people work with kids is not for the money or the prestige. It’s to be able to make an impact on young people. Teachers get into this business because they really like being with kids, and they find vehicles through which they can engage them in meaningful work and meaningful play and meaningful service and meaningful travel.”
For a decade now, Nobles has periodically surveyed its young graduates (those who have graduated within the previous 15 years) to determine how effectively the school meets its mission. “When you ask Nobles graduates what it is that they value most about their time here, it is their relationships with teachers that allowed them to learn the skills and master the knowledge necessary to be successful in college and beyond,” Snyder says. “When you have a personal positive relationship between a young person and somebody who cares about that kid and cares about what he or she is doing, then really good learning is going to happen."
A challenging academic program is central to Nobles, he adds. “Content is really important and we spend a lot of time worrying about scope and sequence. But high school is not a pre-professional program; high school is all about learning who you are, building a foundation for future learning and developing the skill sets that are important to carry on to further work. At the foundation of that are teachers who enjoy being with kids, and who have a level of expertise in their academic disciplines and areas of interest that will engage and challenge really capable students. That’s what happens at Nobles.”