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Q&A with Greson Torchio, Curriculum Innovator at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart

Interview by Laurie Pellichero

Describe the mission and campus of Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart

At Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, our mission is to inspire young men to become creative, compassionate, and courageous leaders of a just society. We strive to give them the skills, empathy, and knowledge needed to make a difference in our world today. Each day our boys come to a beautiful 50-acre campus to learn, explore, and grow. Our Princetonian stone buildings contain a vibrant community with students who bring their whole self to school. State-of-the-art science labs, athletic center, and MakerSpace are some of the many dynamic spaces at Princeton Academy. Our campus has both solar and geothermal powered systems which support our ongoing sustainable practices and initiatives.

What is your role at the school and what is your history there?

I lead curriculum innovation as well as teach Middle School math and science.
I joined the Princeton Academy  community in 2017 after over a decade of teaching in independent schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in Hopewell and I am a 2001 graduate of nearby Princeton Day School. Discovering Princeton Academy in my return to Princeton has been both professionally and personally fulfilling. The community has welcomed my family with open arms and I am honored to join them in our efforts to impact the lives of our boys.

What are the Learning Principles for Boys?

Princeton Academy’s Learning Principles for Boys are research-based best practices that support our mission and philosophy. These five statements serve as a compass for our curricular program:

Boys learn best when they are navigators of their own learning.
Boys learn best deductively.
Boys learn best when given clear goals and feedback.
Boys learn best when they are not afraid of failure.
Boys learn best through relational experiences.

In other words, we believe boys learn best by doing. Our curricular program is designed to provide hands-on, collaborative learning experiences in a setting that promotes risk-taking as a healthy part of the learning process. We believe that building strong relationships with their teachers inspires our boys to believe in themselves and become lifelong learners.

What new programs are offered at the school?

In our STEAM program, we place an emphasis on interdisciplinary, student-centered, mission-driven work. We follow the design-thinking process as our students learn to think like engineers and become creative problem solvers. New STEAM initiatives include the construction of  Pumpkin Catapults, Rube Goldberg Machines, Marine Engineering, Boat Building, and other project-based learning that focuses on sustainability and stewardship. We integrate technology and innovation throughout with 3D printing, coding, and film.

In staying true to Princeton Academy’s mission and Sacred Heart Goals, our social justice program centers around building awareness that impels to action. Through research, inquiry, and instruction our students learn about global challenges facing our world today and the brave individuals and organizations leading the efforts for a better future. With this increased awareness, the boys think creatively and critically to come up with new solutions as the innovators of tomorrow. The UN Sustainable Development Goals help guide our efforts in this important work. Other new programs include mindfulness and yoga practice, speech and debate, and a Middle School Ethics Bowl Team.

How does an all-boys education prepare students for the future?

At Princeton Academy, we look to provide an experience that gives boys the tools, mindset, and confidence to graduate as their best self. We aim to redefine masculinity through empathy, compassion, and a strong sense of identity. We build relationships which are a necessary part of engaging boys in the learning process. And our boys learn that respect, resilience, and strong character are not only valued in our community, but needed in our future.

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