The Tatnall School is unique among independent schools in Wilmington in being able to trace its roots back to a single visionary woman and teacher who founded the school and gave it her name 87 years ago. What is particularly remarkable is how present Mrs. Tatnall’s values and principles are in the daily life of the school today. Phrases such as “ All things done in love ” and "Tatnall is not just a school. It's a way of life." are as much a part of the school’s culture now as they were in 1930. This is the foundation upon which the school was founded and upon which it has thrived.

As her granddaughter, Caroline Tatnall Ketcham '58, said, Mrs. Tatnall was ecumenical well before the concept became mainstream. She built a school that reflected her Judeo-Christian values, but she would have welcomed the rich cultures and beliefs that reflect both our local community and the nation in the 21st century.

Teachers in all divisions recognize and celebrate the diversity represented by our Tatnall family:

In the Preschool, teachers create a sense of awareness about beliefs that are different from one’s own through show and tell, music, literature and the celebration of holidays. These practices help young children develop empathy toward one other, as well as an understanding of the diverse world in which they live.

The Lower School is the perfect place to expose children to a variety of customs, traditions and beliefs. Children at this age are curious and welcoming, and they relish sharing their own personal traditions, both religious and secular, as well as learning about and celebrating their classmates ’ traditions. Student-led morning exercises continue a tradition begun by Mrs. Tatnall. It follows her design and includes prayers, readings and songs.

The Middle School incorporates an appreciation for diversity at a deeper level. Their “character education” includes discussions about honesty, cooperation, humility, patience, courage, creativity, environmental awareness, peace and freedom. These concepts are put into action through community service projects. Studies of different religions—Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam—are incorporated into the Middle School curriculum.

The Upper School prepares students to enter the "‘real world," where they will encounter people who have different religions, values, backgrounds, beliefs and cultural norms. The study of beliefs and values is woven into a number of classes that deal with religion and culture. Principles and values such as compassion, care for the disadvantaged and global responsibility are integrated into community service projects and club activities, such as the Jefferson Awards and Amnesty International.

The committee charged with reviewing Tatnall’s spiritual practices is pleased to report the continued success and vibrancy of Mrs. Tatnall’s vision for a school community that celebrates the individual talents, heritages and beliefs of all its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

"My grandmother (Frances Dorr Swift Tatnall) was truly a religious woman, one brought up in the church, back when attendance at Sunday morning services was only the beginning of a family's weekly obligations. I can't actually speak to her inner thoughts about religion...but I'm certain that she would be generous, curious and tolerant, ever open to other religious practices. She was religious in the sense of living a Christian life, rather than setting a conscious, proselytizing example for others." 

Caroline Tatnall Ketcham '58
Member, Board of Trustees