Weekend Wisdom

Ashley Pinakiewicz ’00

“Create space for discovery.”
“My decade at Kent Place taught me that exploration is just as valuable as learning from a textbook. Whether creating a book series with Ms. Passacantando, choreographing with Ms. Yannelli, making unexpected connections in Dr. Cole’s attic classroom, or sampling French cuisine with Madame Moreau, my KPS years were full of exploration. It wasn’t about finding the right answer; it was about thinking differently. I was encouraged at every step to push beyond the boundaries of the expected, to challenge myself, and to discover new possibilities. I was encouraged to believe that I was capable of forging my own path.

“Kent Place fostered an appreciation for learning by doing, and was my first foray into innovative thinking. My rich experiences nurtured a passion for travel, innovation, and adventure that would drive significant decisions in my life. Most important, I believed that exploration had inherent value, and that I could discover great things about myself and the world around me if I was willing to advance into the unknown.

“After a ten-year career as a strategy and design-thinking consultant, I left to follow my true passion: education. Many thought I was crazy to start over so ‘late’ in my career (it’s never too late), but I’d never have had the courage to take that leap if I hadn’t been supported and challenged to venture into the unknown at KPS. I took the biggest leap of all last summer, when I started a company where I use my design-thinking and strategy background to develop design-minded educators, organizations, and programs.

“I’m so grateful to Kent Place for encouraging me to be an explorer. Create the space for discovery in your life and to take those leaps, even if they scare you — you never know what you’ll find on the other side.”

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Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.