The Shipley Magazine

Sean Legnini ’07: How Can Schools Shape a Better World?

About Sean Legnini ’07
A third-generation Shipley alumnus, Sean Legnini ’07 pursued a wide variety of interests while he was a student. After graduating from Shipley, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music and business from Northeastern University, a master’s degree in arts administration from Drexel University, and a second master’s degree in education from Cabrini University. In addition to working in all three fields, at a record label, a music-centered nonprofit organization, and Shipley, he launched a tech startup, with the aim of automating charitable giving through virtual goods in video games. He is currently a science and STEAM teacher in Shipley's Middle School.

How do you think schools can act as a force for positive change in the world?
Personal growth happens through trial and experimentation, whether successful or unsuccessful, and that’s true for the world and its communities, too. Schools provide a safe and open place for us to go through that trial and experimentation without too much fear of failure. In that safe space, we can encourage students to push themselves beyond their boundaries and work with them to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. It is in those moments of trial and experimentation here in the classroom that they’ll create positive personal and communal growth that will radiate well beyond the Shipley campus. 

How can we change educational systems to make an even greater impact?
Systems of grading are set up to encourage correctness and not growth. So many students go through school, even in sixth grade, so focused on getting their “A,” getting into honors courses, and getting into the best college, that they forget to focus on the learning and growth that happens in classrooms. If we can rethink how we assess students, find a way to focus more on thinking processes rather than an ability to store and recall information, and alter our cycles and forms of feedback, we can bring students back to the focus on growth. Growth, as a skill, is a lifelong thing—once you have a handle on what it means to grow, it never goes away. 

What responsibility do private schools have to be a force for positive change?
Independent schools in particular are uniquely set up to be able to experiment with curriculum and pedagogy in a way that could really push what education looks like. 

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.