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Portrait of a Graduate

Prep’s Portrait of a Graduate is an expression of the intellectual habits, skills, and mindsets students gain from their Santa Fe Prep experience. Naming these traits helps us keep students at the center of our decision-making and plan backward from a shared vision of traits that are transdisciplinary, assessable, relevant at every grade level, and transferable to life beyond Santa Fe Prep. We think of it as a compass or GPS that helps our school navigate complicated terrain and stay on the strong course plotted by our founders and past leaders.   

Our committee, composed of faculty and staff members Aaron Schubach, Jessyca Lucero-Flores, Chris Chakeres ’94, Liz Friary, Mark Bixby, Matt Ybarra, Eric Wynn, Kendel Fesenmyer, Mary Little, Ambrose Ferber ’93, Kathleen Osborne, Carla Westen, Marc Reynolds and consultant/facilitator Greg Bamford, began the Portrait of a Graduate project with several points of curiosity.

  • What are the essential elements of a Santa Fe Prep education that have served our graduates and current students so well over our first 59 years of existence?
  • How can we retain and evolve our culture as we welcome new students and teaching professionals to Santa Fe Prep? As business author Jim Collins would say, how can we build clocks for all to see instead of having an individual tell us the time?
  • What skills and habits do young people need to navigate a new intellectual and professional landscape that emphasizes critical thinking, quantitative literacy, cooperation, and inclusivity over lone work and rote memorization?  

We also knew that the calling cards of a Santa Fe Prep education historically are also the skills and aptitudes that young people most need going forward; writing, interpersonal skills, quantitative literacy, and intellectual humility. As you might imagine, our conversations were robust in a school that prizes active discourse, and the picture became more apparent with each iteration.  

The Portrait capacities are as follows:

Intentional Craftsperson | An intentional craftsperson explores both technical and ambitious challenges in all disciplines with agency and resilience, working individually and in teams. Open to making mistakes and with a strong sense of ownership, they craft and test their work and ideas and seek feedback with the goal of personal growth and progress.
Critical and Creative Thinker | A critical and creative thinker takes time to activate prior knowledge, acknowledge multiple perspectives, and look for patterns that can explain the world or reveal new possibilities. They apply a critical lens across disciplines as a lifelong learner and have the courage to express their originality.
Effective Communicator | An effective communicator listens before responding and articulates their ideas clearly through written, spoken, visual, or physical languages. They engage in active discussion thoughtfully and respectfully using data and opinion.
Culturally Aware and Responsive Citizen | A culturally aware and responsive citizen relates to people with different perspectives and life experiences. They compare and contrast cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs in order to celebrate differences and create a more just world.
Steward | A steward has a reflective awareness of themselves and their connections to the larger world, which results in actions and behaviors that make them proactive caretakers of the natural world, their communities, and their relationships.
Balanced | A balanced person makes the most of their mental, emotional, and physical selves to be healthy, aware, and grounded. In doing so, they utilize their talents and skills to engage in the world with care and purpose.

Core Values 

Because the Portrait of a Graduate work yielded such a rich array of data and feedback, the committee also identified five core values that we attempt to inculcate and that our students and graduates routinely demonstrate. These core values are courage, curiosity, respect, resilience, and integrity. The core values reflect some of the critical conversations that our community has had in recent years around mental health, inclusion, academic dishonesty, disciplinary events, the wide variety of emotional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deep history of excellence at our school. Simultaneously, the student council developed an honor code with support from Jessyca Lucero-Flores, Assistant Head of  School and Upper School Head. It reads as follows: As a Griffin, I choose to respect others and act with integrity because I value the trust of the community. The congruence between the core values and the honor code let us know that we were on the right track.