HUDSON — To advance its distinctive new Literacies Program within its independent curriculum, Western Reserve Academy has received a $100,000 matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation. 

The E.E. Ford Foundation recognizes exceptional schools around the country and has a long history supporting innovation in education, including a relationship with WRA spanning more than 60 years.

"We are honored to receive the E.E. Ford Foundation grant to support our evolving independent curriculum," said Head of School Christopher D. Burner ‘80. "WRA’s bold curriculum, including our Literacies Program, gives our students a competitive advantage in academics, critical thinking, college admission and the world ahead."

Kate Mueller, associate head of school at WRA adds, "The E.E. Ford grant supports the continued development of our Literacies Program — from coding and making and communication and design to project execution. In a world where the only constant is change, WRA is building a pioneering curriculum that nimbly and explicitly instructs students to become lifelong learners, global citizens and people of great consequence."

The E.E. Ford grant will allow WRA to further evolve literacies, a cohort of yearlong courses established for each grade level, 9 through 12, at the school. The literacies courses, rooted in progressive research and with an eye on the best college outcomes and preparation for life, are designed to equip students for modern challenges.

For example, every Reserve freshman is required to complete Digital Literacies courses called Learning to Code and Learning to Make. The courses immerse students in the theory and practice of technology, optimizing the school’s 6,000-square-foot Wang Innovation Center.

Matt Gerber, director of information and education technology and dean of faculty at WRA says, "Our freshmen Digital Literacies are about encouraging a passion for innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and design from a student’s earliest days in high school. With knowledge gained in Learning to Code and Learning to Make, our students’ only limitation is what they can dream."

The E.E. Ford Foundation grant will allow WRA to build out the Literacies Program for additional class levels. Sophomore Literacies, for example, will focus on spoken and written communications as foundational skills that hone characteristics like composure, confidence and self-advocacy.

The Literacies Program is among the key attributes of WRA’s fully independent curriculum, which builds on nearly 200 years of educational excellence, dating back to the school’s founding in 1826. In 2017, the school became the first in the region to move beyond Advanced Placement courses in favor of independently rigorous classes dubbed College Level, joining a growing group of the country’s best boarding and day schools in emphasizing depth, discovery and collaboration over preparation for standardized tests. The curriculum also includes a new schedule allowing for longer class periods and new design for courses to include more collaborative, project-based and innovative ways of teaching and learning.