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Dr. Wu at TJ: Challenging Students to Become “Leaders and Not Just Doers”

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Dr. Ann Bonitatibus, Principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), invited Dr. Wu to speak at the school on February 23rd. Dr. Bonitatibus asked Dr. Wu to share her thoughts on “How to Raise an Adult” as part of the Principal’s Book Club at TJHSST.

Dr. Yuhsien Wu with Dr. Ann Bonitatibus, Principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST).

Dr. Wu shared her experience of working with students of diverse backgrounds and the challenges these students face due to different cultural backgrounds and the competitive and stressful environment at a top school like TJHSST. She introduced the concept of a “mastery” focus instead of a “performance” orientation when students learn. She also noted the importance of students developing “software” skills to augment their “hardware” (or academic) skills.

Mastery-oriented learning is driven by internal passion and desire to learn and explore. It is intrinsic to the student and will bring long-term joy and success in the student’s pursuit of knowledge. On the other hand, “performance” oriented goals are focused on results such as SAT scores or GPA. They are driven by external factors and short-term gains. These goals are often imposed on the student, either by parents, teachers, or other outsiders. Even if they succeed, students tend to not enjoy the learning. They become afraid of taking risks (because they do not want to fail), and not willing to help others in fear of letting others get ahead of themselves.

Dr. Wu stated emphatically that good colleges look beyond the GPA and “performance” results and seek students who show true love and passion for learning, and who show leadership and care for their community.

These “software” skills come from the student’s self-awareness and self-confidence. They are manifested in their choice of activities, the reference letters they receive, the essays they write and the awards they have earned outside of their normal schoolwork. One way to build those skills is to have students participate in summer programs like BranchOut!, which allows students to use their STEM skills to help disadvantaged youth better understand and appreciate STEM-related concepts. BranchOut allows TJHSST students the opportunity to give back to their local community in a very real and meaningful way.

After the session finished, Dr. Bonitatibus asked Dr. Wu to keep working with TJHSST parent organizations to find more opportunities to help students grow, and--in Dr. Bonitatibus’s own words--“become leaders and not just doers”.

Dr. Wu and the Veritas Education Team have been proud to work, teach, and learn alongside TJHSST. Check out some of our past TJ Events and comprehensive info guides!

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