Position Aligns with Renewed Academic Philosophy and Restructured Curriculum
Northwood School announces the promotion of Noël Carmichael to Dean of Curriculum Design and Faculty Development. The new position has been created to head a multi-year process to fully implement the new Northwood academic philosophy, ensuring that it is comprehensive, and results in tangible and sustainable improvements.
Ms. Carmichael will oversee curriculum changes and faculty development focused on developing students to be independent learners with the skills needed for the jobs of the future. This process will include a thorough analysis and commitment to not just the written curriculum but also the taught curriculum, allowing Northwood teachers to become industry leaders and innovators in the classroom.
In the 2018-19 academic year, the new academic philosophy and the shift from the school’s traditional subject departments into the framework of STEM and Humanities departments began. This shift acknowledged the innate benefit of addressing knowledge from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Head of School Michael Maher instituted an Academic Task Force which began work to assess and reimagine the Northwood curriculum. The task force looked outward at the evidenced-based best practices developed in education around the globe and have looked inward at Northwood’s unique strengths and core values. The work was grounded in previous work contributed to by many current and former faculty, most notably the ‘Portrait of a Northwood Graduate’ and the ‘Adirondack Program Committee Report’. The process also took into account the aforementioned curriculum review and the school’s New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) evaluations. At the core of the reevaluation were driving questions about the role of classroom education in 2020 and how best to prepare students to lead lives of consequence in a rapidly changing future.
“The strength of any institution is determined by its ability to maintain its integrity and vitality for those it serves,” states Michael Maher, Head of School. “As an institution that has thrived for 115 years, Northwood School has necessarily understood the need to evolve and we are excited to have Noël lead us in this area.”
Academic Philosophy Implementation
This past academic year, the Academic Task Force was restructured to allow for input from a wider group of faculty and administrative staff. The group is currently referred to as the Academic Philosophy Implementation Committee. All of the new programming at Northwood aligns with the philosophical goal of providing more experiential learning inside and outside of the classroom as an integral part of the Northwood experience. This includes Learn, Engage, Apply, Perform (L.E.A.P.) and the new plan for Advanced STEM Research and programming at the Innovation Hub. Faculty-wide professional development has already taken place to encourage more place-based work within the Adirondacks and to explore problem- and project-based work within all subjects.
In addition to the already announced programming, the 2020-2021 academic year will see a formal restructuring within the newly formed Humanities department. A co-taught integrated humanities approach in the lower years allows for a return to the interdisciplinary origins of the subject group content, bringing the expertise of multiple teachers working collaboratively and the multiple perspectives of different modes of thinking to explorations of human past, present, and future. There are also plans for a shift away from regimented upper-level English courses to a model allowing for student choice, including broadening the opportunity for Humanities electives. Across all classes at Northwood, greater emphasis will be placed on student agency and reflection.
In addition to aligning with the new academic philosophy, all changes made to the new Northwood curriculum will be informed by research-based best practices for teaching and learning. A core emphasis will be on student-led and inquiry-based approaches with an explicit connection to the greater world and its relevance to students’ lives. A Northwood education will focus on core skills such as critical thinking, reflection, research, providing students with the adaptive skills needed for the jobs of the future. The process of the development of this curriculum will be collaborative with all stakeholders.
"I am excited and honored to be able to lead Northwood through this process of continually improving the education we provide to our students," states Ms. Carmichael.
About Noel Carmichael
Noël Carmichael is a graduate of New York University and was appointed at Northwood School in 2017. She will continue teaching in the English department and leading the Drama program. In her new role, she will work closely with the Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean of Faculty, and all members of the teaching faculty.