MI and Differentiated Learning at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School pic
Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School
Image: chch.org

A successful competitive water polo coach, Cory Olcott holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in education and English literature from Stanford University, and a master’s of education in school leadership from Harvard University. Cory Olcott serves as dean of sophomore class, director of student activities, and basketball coach at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School (CH-CH).

CH-CH is a private, independent college preparatory school situated on a 40-acre campus in Waltham, Massachusetts, just a few minutes outside of Boston. The school provides an intimate classroom experience with, on average, just over 10 students per class.

The institution differentiates itself from similar schools with its approach of “teaching the way students learn.” Rather than seeking to demonstrate how smart the students are, the school strives to identify how the students are smart. In practice, CH-CH uses the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory to better understand its students and applies differentiated instruction to more suitably serve its various types of learners.

The MI theory was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist. According to Dr. Gardner, there are nine intelligences (mathematical/logical, naturalist, interpersonal, musical, linguistic, bodily/kinesthetic, existential, spatial, and intrapersonal) that need to be stimulated and supported by schools. CH-CH designs its lessons so that students can achieve their full potential by tapping into these distinct intelligences.

Differentiated instruction takes into consideration that not all students in a classroom have uniform levels of ability or learn subjects using the same processes. Thus, lessons are designed and delivered in a manner that can best reach each student. Studies reveal that differentiated learning is beneficial to a broad spectrum of students.

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Cory Olcott

After years of teaching while coaching sports teams in California, Cory Olcott moved across the country to enroll in Harvard University's School Leadership Program, where he will earn his license to serve as a school administrator. While attending this program, Olcott also works as a Principal Intern at TechBoston Academy, where he observes teachers in the classroom and provides evaluations and feedback to help them improve their methods. Cory Olcott began his professional career as an English teacher, where he jump-started in-school water polo programs and helped lead one of his first teams to a 29-1 record. As Olcott changed schools over his career, he continued to serve various water polo clubs and programs as a coach. In three seasons as the head water polo coach at Palo Alto High School, Cory Olcott helped five players receive scholarships to Division I programs, while six of his players were honored as Academic All-Americans. Through his studies at Harvard University, Olcott is expanding on his knowledge of education through classes that prepare him for the administrative duties of running a school, including financial strategies, fundraising considerations, and leadership ethics. He is expected to earn his principal licensure in the summer of 2012. Cory Olcott earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and his Master of Arts degree from Stanford University. Outside of work, Olcott enjoys swimming, running, skiing, exploring New England, and spending time with his son and daughter. He is a Co-Chair of the Northwestern 20th Reunion Committee and is a member of the Northwestern University Leadership Council.

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