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Defining Citizenship at USM

Defining Citizenship at USM

This past September, a committee of faculty and administrators completed their work to develop USM’s new “Portrait of a USM Citizen” statement. It defines, in age-appropriate ways for Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School students, what citizenship means at USM.

Being a good citizen is discussed frequently amongst students, faculty, and staff at USM. It’s part of our mission statement—to cultivate excellence in learning, leadership, and citizenship. But what does it mean to be a good citizen, exactly? How do we define a good citizen at USM? How does one benefit from being a citizen of a particular community, and what does one owe in response?

As part of the school’s strategic plan, a group of faculty and administrators was formed to tackle these important questions and develop a “Portrait of a USM Citizen” statement. Unveiled this past September, the statement comprehensively defines what students in Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and

Students cut down invasive species during an Upper School retreat.

Upper School will learn, practice, and experience in regards to citizenship. Th e statement, along with those division-specific features, can be viewed online at This is the first of three planned “Portrait” statements—with “Portrait of a USM Leader” and “Portrait of a USM Learner” to follow in years two and three of our strategic plan.

“We look forward to leaning on this articulation of citizenship to help us make explicit connections between citizenship learning, academic studies, and cocurricular experiences,” said Amy Hand, assistant head of school and the chair of the citizenship strategic plan committee. “Our research has galvanized us to continue building student programming, faculty professional development, and pedagogical practices to further support learning around citizenship. As our students grow, they will learn about their role as citizens of many different communities. Ultimately, we want all of our students to gain the necessary skills and understandings to help all of their communities—including USM—grow and become better.”

USM wishes to thank the members of the school’s strategic plan “Portrait of a USM Citizen” committee, who worked to define expectations around citizenship during the 2022–23 school year: Muffie MacKedon Browne, prekindergarten teacher (retired); Amy Hand, assistant head of school (chair);

Nora Sachs, Middle School French teacher; Chuck Taft, 8th grade American studies history teacher; Colleen Tiefenbrun, Upper School history teacher; Henry Wend, Upper School history teacher; and Brita Willis, 3rd grade teacher.

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