What is the Ideal Saklan Graduate?

Before the start of the year, I asked teachers to write down words that described the Ideal Saklan Graduate. I then did the same with The Saklan School Board of Trustees and the 8th grade class. What was rewarding to see was the consistency between the groups and the type of traits that came into focus. It was those hard-to-measure but ever-important “soft skills” (confidence, empathy, curiosity, etc.) that were highly valued across our community.

Schools have traditionally seen their primary task as getting students ready for success in high school and college. Unfortunately, this was often translated to mean high grades and SAT scores. I do not want to be quoted as saying those things are unnecessary, but they are also a poor predictor of success in life. Research going back to the 1950s tells us that academic success is a small part of the picture of what makes success in life. 

Word Cloud from Staff, Student & Trustee Ideal Graduate Answers

University of Massachusetts Psychology Professor Seymour Epstein found that success in life has more to do with soft skills than raw intellect (see word cloud). His 10-year study of valedictorians showed that those with high academics had average success in the real world.  While that may be counterintuitive to what we think we know, part of the issue Epstein saw was that these valedictorians lacked those critical soft skills mentioned above.  

One of the things that drew me to Saklan five years ago was the emphasis on helping parents raise “confident, compassionate, good people.” I am so proud to be a part of a school that values the skills that will serve our students well into the future.

With Gratitude,


Comments, questions, thoughts? Email David at doconnell@saklan.org.


Author: The Saklan School Friday Blog

The Saklan School is a private Pre-K through 8 school located in Moraga, CA. Our mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously.

%d bloggers like this: