Westminster School’s motto, virtute et numine
— by grit and grace—defines and distinguishes the Westminster experience, our community and our alumni. Headmaster William V. N. Philip recently wrote in the Parents League Review,
a publication of the Parents League of New York, that grit and grace are two words that balance each other alliteratively, but far more importantly, complement each other inspirationally.
“At its core, grit offers a positive pathway to personal development through hard work, thereby diminishing the relevance of talent and offering opportunities otherwise thought unattainable. Proponents of grit argue that qualities of character emphasizing persistence and effort offer a better predictor of success in life than the “gift” of talent,” he wrote.
In other words, grit is empowering. It offers more control over the personal and professional narratives.
But a successful, meaningful life cannot only be about grit. When considering the significance of grace, he wrote, the following aphorism resonates: “Grace isn’t a little prayer you say before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.” Grace is about awareness of others. It is about thinking beyond self, to what can be done to support others.
At Westminster, grace also means the small daily courtesies extended to others by greeting them, holding the door open and being polite and respectful.
Schools are not simply about teaching academic lessons, Philip wrote, but learning that in the company of others, students can accomplish far more than alone. In this way, they not only develop an appreciation of differing perspectives and circumstances but empathy. Grace is essential to any successful community, organization, institution or school. Without grace we are on our own. Grace inspires us to overcome the challenges presented by the hard work of grit.
By balancing grit and grace, students are able to expand their opportunities for successful and fulfilling lives. Together, Grit & Grace offer a motto for a life well lived. In the video below, a few students will tell you what Grit & Grace means to them.