Inspiring Learning for a Changing World

John Murray
John Murray
Dean of Academic Affairs

Our students live in in an ever-shrinking world, connected and driven by digital technologies, which are helping expand the access to knowledge at an exponential rate. This world requires our students to develop a host of evolving skills. Employers, and increasingly our best colleges and universities, look for individuals who can respond flexibly to complex problems, communicate effectively, manage information, work in teams, persist through difficulties, and produce new knowledge. Called 21st century skills by Tony Wagner, Thomas Friedman, and others, this skill-set includes all of the following:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership by influence
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Ability to effectively access and analyze information
  • Creativity, curiosity, and imagination
  • Character: ethics, personal responsibility and social responsibility

So, what does all of this mean for FRA, our academic programs, and our students? It means that our teachers work hard to integrate the teaching of these skills and dispositions into all classrooms, pre-k through grade 12, while continuing to teach and emphasize essential content knowledge. FRA students are asked to solve authentic problems, apply information, collaborate with classmates, analyze data, and create products to demonstrate their understanding. We focus on the skills that students will need to be successful in our modern world while also ensuring that they do well on traditional assessments that allow them access to the top universities. It is not a matter of either 21st century skills or traditional content knowledge. In our view they are both needed; they are interdependent.

Outstanding faculty lead academic growth at FRA. Our teachers collaborate across the school to ensure that our academic programs build on one another, both in skill development and content knowledge, as students move from grade to grade. What really sets our teachers apart is their unswerving dedication to treating students as individuals, differentiating instruction to bring out the best in each student and helping them develop into astute thinkers and persistent, creative problem solvers.

John Murray
Dean of Academic Affairs
(615) 369-4489