Learning is serious business at Waterford School. Staff and students don’t waiver when it comes to education. Expectations are high and students are challenged in an intellectually rigorous environment. Every 2016 graduate went on to college; 71 percent went to colleges out of state.
Seriousness aside, kids thrive at Waterford, and their educators see success in every one of their smiling faces — none of which get lost in the sea of maroon and blue uniforms.
“Waterford students are seen,” says Todd Winters, Waterford School director of admissions. “They are known personally, and they are highly connected to the fabric of our community. This is not a place to hang in the back of the classroom and not get noticed.”
By Kris Millgate
Photos Courtesy of Waterford School
Waterford School opened in 1986. Its purpose was simple. Create a private school modeled after the Greeks. A classical liberal arts education relevant for life in the 21st century. The concept was pretty out of the box for Utah where every neighborhood has easy access to free, public schools. Waterford fought the box and blossomed.
Families who wanted more than what the public system offered found Waterford. And the school with no neighborhood ties created a community now 600 families strong annually.
“Independent schools like Waterford are mission-driven schools seeking parents and students whose educational philosophy, needs and goals are in alignment with Waterford’s mission and program,” Winters says. “This is a conscious and deliberate commitment for families so naturally they are thoughtful and committed partners with the school.”
Diverse Student Body
As more families found their educational home with Waterford, the school’s footprint grew from 150 students and one building in 1986 to 10 buildings and 900 students today. Its mission never changed. Interest in the unique learning concept did.
Students from across the Wasatch Front and farther now mingle in halls and cluster in classrooms. Diversity is evident among varied races, religions and backgrounds, but the common thread is a passion for lifelong learning.
“We believe good is not good enough,” Winters says. “We are the school that’s going to ask students to break a sweat. They do hard things. They know the value of work, discipline and stamina. We believe in and practice the growth mindset.”
Waterford produces students who are critical thinkers with a creative streak and cross-cultural competency. The result is a young adult destined to succeed now and later. The odds are shaped for that positive destiny by offering a 1-to-4 teacher-student ratio and a 1-to-35 college counselor-student ratio.
“We are not preparing students for an end,” Winters says. “We are preparing them to acquire the nobility of the well-lived life.” The rigorous curriculum molds a lifelong learner. One that is nurtured through a personal connection made among a community stronger than a traditional neighborhood.
“Teachers connect personally with students and know their family’s stories,” Winters says. “Teachers want to be here. Students want to be here. It’s a strong, respectful climate.”