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Your Student Can Do Great Things: Foundations Matter

Nancy Ward
Part one of this six-part series offers insights into Clairbourn’s educational philosophy and the elements of the program which have led to noteworthy accomplishments by its alums.

How does a child experience remarkable success? Is such an outcome based on advantages, brain power, or fortuitous timing? Clairbourn believes a substantial contributor is the child’s educational environment – one that is designed to encourage a growth mindset and risk-taking combined with a student’s sense of community support and belonging. Take, for instance, the example of alumna Tiffany Chang from the Class of 2018.

Tiffany Chang is a Clairbourn Class of 2018 alumna and the founding president of the Madhatter Knits
nonprofit organization which she started while at the school.
She took the elements of her Clairbourn education and used them to inspire and build a non-profit organization which is making a real difference. Tiffany, along with a group of former Clairbourn students and current high school classmates, runs Madhatter Knits, a nonprofit that makes hats for premature infants.

Tiffany Chang, along with fellow Madhatter Knits executive team members Sara Lowin and Gracie Sandman donate Maternal Protection Care Kits to a local medical center.
Since 2014, they have donated 7,028 hats, they have benefitted over 11 local hospitals and health centers, they have 16 chapters across the globe, and they have expanded into COVID-19 response by creating and donating 100 infant face shields, 900 Maternal Protection Care Kits for pregnant mothers, and raised $22,000 for the CHLA COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The organization has a compelling website, Instagram and Facebook presence, a YouTube channel, and Tiffany, along with her other executive directors, speak on behalf of the organization on radio and TV.

Lucy Huang Chang’s two daughters, Kimberly and Tiffany both started in Clairbourn’s preschool program.
Did her early educational environment have something to do with this level of success? Yes! Tiffany credits Clairbourn School for giving her a foundation that led to these impressive accomplishments; specifically loving teachers, community service projects, and leadership opportunities that made risk-taking a normal and positive part of her learning experience.

Many parents today are keenly aware of the importance of providing their children with a good education combined with developmental opportunities that lead to success. Before their child is even potty-trained they find themselves reaching out to fellow parents for school-choice advice, and they will start sifting through scores of websites in the hopes that a clear path will emerge for their family to take.

When searching for the right school, the best questions to ask are two-fold, “What will my child need to succeed for the future, and what evidence is there that my child will thrive at this school?” That kind of approach is key to navigating the wide range of school offerings in the San Gabriel Valley.

Tiffany Chang in Grade 2 at Clairbourn School.
Each school has a unique educational formula designed to produce what they consider to be a successful student. Some focus on religious exposure, others on advanced test-taking skills, and some believe in accelerated programs. Then there are the STEM-focused schools, schools with fluid grade structure, as well as schools devoted to name-brand teaching and learning methods. Options abound!

But from 94 years of experience with educating children 13 and under, Clairbourn has learned to put the following researched-backed elements front-and-center in their program to ensure school success. This includes cultivating a growth-mindset that values exploration and risk-taking, providing a safe and supportive environment to encourage a sense of belonging, offering extensive opportunities to explore interests, and maintaining a culture where character, kindness, and service have equal importance alongside a challenging and rewarding academic experience. Clairbourn has summed up this approach in its mission statement, “Creating Scholars and Leaders with Heart.”

The actions and faces of Clairbourn students show that character, kindness, and service have equal importance alongside a challenging and rewarding academic experience.

PART 2 dives deeper into the story of Tiffany Chang and her fellow alumnae at Madhatter Knits and shows how thanks to Clairbourn's teaching approach and excellent teachers, they were inspired to apply the qualities of scholarship, leadership, and heart learned at Clairbourn School in their current nonprofit work.
Private School Education for Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary School, & Middle School Grades - Serving Families in the Pasadena Area and Surrounding Cities
Clairbourn is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. (K-12 Private Schools)