With educators like Celeste Bunting, Worcester Preparatory School expands on its tradition of preeminent academic excellence
What turns an organization into an institution? Or an edifice into a landmark? The answer? It’s the people. But not just any people. It’s people with a mission — you might even say a calling. People who spend practically every waking moment contemplating how to do their jobs better, how to make a difference, how to leave a legacy. There are such people among us, those who inspire others to rise to the limits of their potential and to make the world a better place for their efforts. For more than 46 years, the faculty, staff and administration of Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin have been such people, and the community they serve is the better for it. This is true not only for the advanced, state-of-the-art educational techniques and resources they provide each pupil from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade but also by creating the environment of a real family, one that nurtures and supports all of its members equally. The result is a veritable pillar of the community that sees 100 percent of its graduates go on to attend a four-year college or university, including such elite institutions as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, Northwestern, MIT, Duke and George Washington University.
A prime exponent of this unwavering philosophy is WPS’ retiring Head of Lower School, Celeste Bunting, who has tirelessly dedicated 44 years of her life to educating the minds and molding the characters of Delmarva’s youth. She began her career in 1973 as a first-grade teacher, a position she held for 27 years. sWith a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s of Education degree from Salisbury University, Celeste has dedicated every day of her exemplary career to making her students feel loved. Whether it was by standing outside every day, no matter the weather, and personally greeting her students and their parents with smiles and hugs, developing a top-flight science curriculum or creating the WPS Children’s Garden and Bird Sanctuary, Celeste has found a way to enhance the lives of literally thousands of future leaders of the community. A Fulbright Scholar, Celeste has been recognized with many national and regional awards, including Elementary Science Teacher of the Year by the Chemical Educators Association and Maryland Conservation Teacher of the Year, in addition to commendations from both Apple and Microsoft. Her Lower School Chess Club, which Celeste launched 12 years ago, has flourished over the years, with impressive tournament wins that run from Salisbury to the states of Maryland and Delaware.
“It is hard to capture in words the special legacy that Celeste is leaving behind,” declared WPS’ longtime headmaster, Dr. Barry Tull. “Over the years, she has helped to create a highly nurturing and joyful environment. Her commitment to making sure our students are well educated and well cared for has resulted in an exceptional academic program with talented and supportive faculty. Since day one, her wisdom, kindness and grace have been a blessing to the school community.”
With Celeste at the helm since 2000, WPS’ Lower School establishes a firm academic foundation that begins in pre-K and continues through Grade 5, emphasizing the development and nurturing of critical-thinking and study skills intended to last a lifetime. The Lower School classrooms are self-contained and provide the right amount of structure. Kindergarten students study the solar system and videoconference with NASA each year, while WPS’ accelerated math program has students working a year ahead, with mastery of multiplication tables by the end of second grade. Structured to be a deliberately challenging, yet stimulating, environment, Lower School students do science investigations at the earliest levels, as well as simple coding and robotics, emphasizing math, reading, writing and technology throughout.
Such academic rigor may make the Lower School students excel, but it doesn’t make them well-rounded people. That’s why WPS emphasizes character building throughout the students’ academic careers. Students are taught both directly, and by example, to understand, care about and respect not only one another but also the environment and their community. They are also taught to give back and help those in need.
This strong emphasis on academic excellence and citizenry continues into the Middle School, which sees all students groom themselves for higher education by taking comprehensive semester exams beginning in the sixth grade, in addition to three years of Latin. Once in the Upper School, students are exposed to a variety of college-prep courses, with a diverse selection of electives and honors courses. WPS also offers Advanced Placement in English literature, English language, American history, calculus AB, calculus BC, biology, chemistry and physics. Significantly, WPS is the only school on the Eastern Shore that has a chapter of the Cum Laude Society, which provides the equivalent of collegiate Phi Beta Kappa recognition to high school students. This doesn’t even include the diverse roster of clubs and sports programs that WPS offers, to further help their students self-actualize.
WORCESTER PREPARATORY SCHOOL
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