Coeducation at Trevor: A Reflection on our Mission

An independent, Nursery through Grade 12 coeducational day school, Trevor Day School educates college-bound students to achieve academic and personal excellence in an inquiry-driven, idea-rich community. Trevor celebrates diversity of thought, experiences, and culture; promotes compassion, collaboration, courage, and creativity; and develops in children a recognition of their own unique potential as lifelong learners and leaders who act as responsible global citizens in our world.
We are often asked: Why is Trevor a coeducational institution? What are the benefits? 

There are clear answers grounded in the mission of our school. 

Trevor is a place where young people work side-by-side in an environment of respect, where their needs are addressed, where all students are encouraged to share their best selves, and where curiosity is privileged over rote learning. We work hard to create an inquiry-based and idea-rich community in which all children are active participants in collaborative activities, promoting understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and experience that defines the best educational environments. Students build a confidence in their knowledge and opinions—and their ability to communicate them—because they have daily opportunities to discuss, debate, and test theories with each other, including those outside of their own gender. 

There have been continuous debates over the years as to whether students are better served academically and socially through coeducational or single-gender schools. While the competing research to support those arguments is important to investigate and consider—and there is a lot of evidence to support the efficacy of coeducationa1—the studies are almost secondary in importance when talking about Trevor Day School’s mission and ambitious goals in working with children. Coeducation is simply who we are. It has been a defining element of our mission and story since 1930, and we strongly believe that a gender-diverse environment allows us to purposely promote an inquiry-based learning environment where children thrive. 

Since the vast majority of Trevor students go on to attend coeducational colleges and universities here and around the globe, we offer our students a coeducational experience of academic and personal excellence that presages the work they will do in their postsecondary years. Trevor puts to work research derived from years of studies on coeducation, reflecting a revolution that has occurred in schooling over the last three decades. Since the late 1980s and the advent of important literature about how girls were shortchanged in their educations, particularly at the middle school and high school levels, educators in coed schools have increased their commitment to educating all children equitably. Trevor has put doing so at the very forefront of our mission. We have worked actively to meet our students’ needs in countless capacities: reforming curriculum; revisiting classroom management; hiring diverse role models; and providing avenues for leadership and advancement. 

And in a community committed to celebrating diversity of thought, experiences, and culture, coeducation is diversity in its simplest sense. We live and operate in a different world from our parents and grandparents, in terms of social and gender norms, and all around us old misconceptions and divisions based upon gender roles are falling. Our curriculum and program advance the dignity of each child, the equality of all people, and opportunities for children to express their personhood in a safe environment, devoid of prejudice and replete with acceptance for the unique gifts that each brings. We celebrate gender expression in all its forms—and the school community is stronger because of it. 

In short, within a coeducational environment, we can promote compassion, collaboration, creativity, and courage. In these current watershed days, when it seems the world is awake and listening—ready to take on sexual harassment, abuse, and discrimination in ways that may actually effect real change—we have the privilege of educating the genders side by side, and on an even playing field. Here, students come to understand that acceptance and respect are key to developing a community in which all children are affirmed for who they are. We do this by encouraging and modeling respectful relationships, from Nursery through grade 12. Our common spaces and classrooms are incubators for a caring community equipped to have courageous conversations, and where positive teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student interactions form the core of daily life. 

We aim to cultivate lifelong learners and leaders who act as responsible global citizens in our world, and we therefore equip them to be collaborative and responsive, which requires an understanding of how the world works. Our world is characterized by an interplay of thought, discourse, and cooperation among people with all gender identities. No wonder then, that around the world, we see schools increasingly moving to the model of coeducation in their efforts to create environments where justice, equality, and achievement can prosper. 

One might argue that coeducation at Trevor reflects the world the way we want it to be—just, collaborative, and a place where all people are respected and affirmed in their identities and capacity to learn and achieve. That may be an ambitious goal—but it is our goal, nonetheless

1Pahlke, E., Shibley, J.E. & Allison, C.M. (2014). The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational Schooling on Students’ Performance and Attitudes: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 140 (No. 4), 1042–1072.
Ambitious academics.  Engaged students.  Balanced lives.

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