“My daughter felt accepted” a father said to me during this year’s graduation ceremony with 83 successful graduates, and I was moved. Anna Maria (name changed) came to us only for the Secondary Level II, frustrated by the lack of interest in her as a person at her former school. Marienhöhe became a school for her where she regained her ability to enjoy studying. She met teachers that were interested in her and encouraged her.
I am very grateful for these teachers who also devise good and interesting instruction, who are dedicated and – in the best sense of the term – motivating coaches. They will leave positive tracks in the lives of their students. Many children and young people enjoy the experience of flourishing at our school. The best witnesses for this statement are former students at class reunions who speak of teachers that broadened their horizons, of life in the dormitories, of friends for life and sometimes also of spouses for life they have found at Marienhöhe. Time and again I hear the words “Marienhöhe was my school for life” at these meetings.
In the school year 2017/18, 775 students and their parents placed their trust in us. We started the year with the mission statement “School for Life” which we had developed in meetings and pedagogic seminars during the school year 2016/17. It is a promise to give much but we were aware of the fact that in the eyes of parents and students we had been a good school for life already for a long time. Now we are in the process of sharpening this profile. I will mention three steps:
- For example, more instruction with reference to the students‘ life-world. School is often faced with the criticism that here you learn for school, for tests and exams but not for life. Well, tests and exams are a “school for life” because they train skills that you need also in working life: careful preparation for challenges, concentration, being able to think and act even under pressure. But the contents of the instruction are important! Do students feel that getting to know, develop and expand the topics of the different subjects is worth the trouble? If they see the relationship between their and our life-world, contents and topics suddenly become fascinating and interesting.
- Or by activity-oriented, holistic challenges that require the use of all senses: During our summer project week our students enjoyed painting on silk, contemplated wise money investments, played basketball or soccer, went sport climbing, did sewing, knitting, computer programming, acting, windsurfing, skating, wrote literary texts, went hiking, visited the chancellor’s office in Berlin or St Peter’s Square in Rome, filmed a devotional video, played music, cooked and baked … All products or experiences they made were presented to their parents at the summer party.
- From this school year onwards, we present each student with a folder “Portfolio Life Skills” in which they can file all documents they receive from us during their school education at Marienhöhe (school reports, certificates, internship reports, self-reflection).