Written By Tony Houle, Head of Admissions and Strategic Imperatives
The most frequently asked question I get when I give a tour to a prospective family is about the difference in an all-girls school. After 7 years at Duchesne, I have so many ways to answer the question that I fear sometimes that it will be received as merely a well-rehearsed elevator speech.
But the truth is that the all-girls experience is different in just about every way from a co-ed educational environment. The result is that the girls are more confident, more willing to take risks, more willing to pursue interests, and more able to become discerning, empowered girls who have more easily developed their sense of self-worth and self-confidence when compared to peers in co-ed schools.
The number one thing that girls need in order to be successful in school is to develop strong relationships with their teachers. They need to see their teachers as advocates, even friends. Our faculty is excellent at this. On recent surveys, an extraordinary number of students commented that they knew that they had at least one adult on campus that they could confide in if they had a problem.
Many of our teachers have removed teacher desks from their classrooms or arranged them in a way that does not form an unintended boundary between the students and the teachers. Our teachers have noticed that girls are more open when there is not a big physical boundary set up between the student and the teacher.
Another deliberate thing we do at Duchesne is to gear the classrooms and pedagogy towards the best ways that girls learn. Girls learn best when they are comfortable, so the classrooms have flexible seating for the girls to have some choice in where and how they sit in class. You may see couches, comfortable chairs, bean bags, rugs, pillows, and even girls without shoes on while a class is taking place. This is deliberate. We support girls sitting on the floor with their shoes off with their laptops open working with a circle of classmates.
Lastly, our girls talk often about the ease of school when they can wake up in the morning and put on their uniform, throw their hair up in a ponytail, and not worry trying to impress anyone. There is a time and place for boys— and our girls have many co-ed social opportunities throughout the year — but without them in the classroom, the girls can focus on academics without the social pressures brought on by having boys in the classroom.
I encourage you to come to campus for a tour so that you can see Duchesne in action and see all of this for yourself. It is a special place.