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Wendy Petersen Boring

Heritage is a truly unique place.  I had friends and colleagues who raved about it.  I knew many of its graduates in high school and beyond and had been impressed not only by their brilliant academic successes, but also and more importantly by the sense that they had developed a strong moral compass and fertile, curious minds.  But I did not really understand just how unique it was until my daughter transferred from a public school in the fourth grade.  Watching her in that first year at Heritage was like watching a fern that had been transplanted from the Mojave Desert to a temperate rain forest.  To say she thrived would be an understatement.  She has moved on from Heritage this year into her future with poetry in her blood, math blooming in her “I’m-not-a-math-person” brain, and a deep and wide appreciation of the peoples, history, and living things in this world. 

What is so magic about this environment?  The parents and other students are wonderful, the fields are full of snakes, ancient oaks, and hawks, but what really makes Heritage magic is the educational space Elaine and Glen have created.  Their wisdom, integrity, intelligence, compassion, and creativity, with their forty-plus years of combined classroom experience, translate into two truly master educators.  They have a phenomenal capacity to meet students exactly where they are, and take them to where they need to be next, whether the subject is temperate rainforests, geometry, Robert Frost, Ancient Greece, or Janusz Korczak.   

Each time I volunteer in the classroom I learn something about educating students that I take back to my own college seminars.  A Heritage education holds together a series of paradoxes:  it is nurturing and challenging, rigorous and creative.  But what strikes me above all is the way in which it educates students for the twenty-first century:  students who relish the challenge of complex problems and see themselves as part of the solution, who approach the world with bold inquisitiveness alongside a sense of reverence, awe, and appreciation for all of life.  These values are communicated literally every day.  As a private school, Heritage is not about being insulated, or isolated from the outside world, but is instead fundamentally about understanding the world in order to move out into it with confidence to appreciate it, and change it -- for the better.

Dr. Wendy Petersen Boring
Assistant Professor of History
Willamette University

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