Private School Showcase
Sentinel Greenwich Private School Boarding School: More Than Dead Poet’s Society and Hogwarts Fall Open House Showcase
develop a list of schools to consider. Perhaps you are exploring this on your own for the first time. In either case, remember that everyone who offers advice, e spe c i a l l y uns o l i c i t ed adv ice , has an agenda , howe ve r i nnoc uou s i t might be. Perhaps a friend has a child who attends “X School.” Maybe you work with someone who is volunteering as a board member of “Y Academy.” Of course, a sports coach h a s a n o p i n i o n a n d maybe even “wants” your child. Each person has a perspective, but it is not a substitute for your own and your child’s. Almost ever y school will champion the feeling o f c ommu n i t y on i t s campus. It will describe its academic programming as robust and challenging. Each school will trumpet i t s sma l l c l a s s s i z e a s an asset to the student experience. There will be some description of the school being a “globa l ” community. I n c o n s i d e r i n g launching a school search, there are several factors to consider: L o c a t i on , l o c a t i on , location. We are nearly in the center of the universe of boarding school. Drive two hours in most directions
and the array of options is overwhelming. But don’t fall prey to counting out options further afield or ones you’ve never heard of. It is important, though, to draw the line of radius, if that is important to your family. Whether one hour away by car or six hours away by a i r, you mus t consider how much of a family experience you wish to have with your child in boarding school. ‘Culture eats strategy f o r b r e a k f a s t . ’ T h e management consultant Peter Drucker could well have been refer r i ng to boarding schools. What is the culture you seek for and with your child? Do you seek a culture that feels supportive, warm and friendly, one that values the whole chi ld, or are you seeking a competitive, f a s t p a c e d l e a r n i n g community that most ly celebrates achievement? Is there a deliberate focus on developing leadership o r on d e v e l op i ng t he intellect? Is there a value in the community placed on academic achievement solely, or also on effort? Pay attention to how the adults in the community interact with the students a nd how t he s t udent s interact with each other. How is mobile technology
embraced and managed in the community? The feeling will be visceral, and perhaps you and your child will fail to articulate it, but you all will simply know what seems to ‘ f it ’ and what doesn’t. Your own experience in high school is irrelevant. Wha t t y pe of s t udent you were or what your e x p e r i e n c e w a s i n secondary school doesn’t matter to your child, really. Life today is more complex, with exponentially more stimuli and demands than on students twenty and thirty years ago. There is, of course, the nostalgia of your childhood that will f lash prominently in the process, but it shouldn’t h e l p g u i d e d e c i s i on - making. When you have made you r s chool i nt er v i ew appointments you must be careful to then relinquish control to your child. Let him or her guide the visit a nd l e ave a ny norma l pa rent a l- ch i ld tens ion in the car. Work out in advance what your role will be and that your child is driving the bus of this adventure. Fina l ly, when a l l the visits are finished, and you and your chi ld face the prospect of standardized test scores, applications,
recommendat ions and t ranscr ipt s , know t hat you, the parents, have a final decision to make. As parents, you will decide which school your child will apply to and you must be certain that you will be comfortable with any one of them. Once you have admission decisions, then your ch i ld can choose which school to enrol l in and own the decision
of the school. There will be ups and downs during your chi ld ’s boarding school career, but on balance, the holistic programming and appropr iate cha l lenges your child will encounter will indeed result in greater independence, newly found or increased confidence, a sense of successful self- reliance, and successful trials as a problem solver.
By Fran Ryan Sentinel Contributor
“I wi sh for my chi ld to be an i ndependent , con f ident , s e l f-re l i ant problem-solver.” I f you hea r yourse l f s a y i n g t h i s , o r s ome iteration of this, out loud or in your head, you should think about a boarding school opt ion for your teenager. Boarding schools provide rigorous, stable, holistic environments in which young people can explore, discover, achieve and fail. Of course, none of us wishes for our child to ex pe r i enc e f a i lu re , though it is a vital part of adolescent development. That said, boarding schools se ldom “ f i x” ch i ldren. Bo a rd i ng s c hoo l s a r e designed to offer a closed system, a community of caring adults, liv ing in concert with adolescents during the most dynamic time of life. You mi ght cons ider t h e f o l l ow i n g p o i n t s when exploring the idea of boarding school. This is the season of school fairs, receptions and other events hosted by schools and families from across the g lobe. Perhaps you have resources in place already that can help you evaluate your child and
“Iwishformychildtobe anindependent,confident, self-reliantproblem-solver.”
Fran Ryan is assistant headmas ter at Rumsey Hall School in Washington Depo t , Conn . He i s a g r a d u a t e o f Ph i l l i p s Ac ademy, i n Andover, Mass., and Connecticut College, in New London. He completed his graduate work in American Studies at Wesleyan Universit y a nd e a r n e d h i s MBA i n management at t he University of Connecticut. H e w a s a w a r d e d a Fulbright Fellowship from the Japan-United States Education Commission in 1998.
Bo a rd i ng s c ho o l i s a n i nv e s t ment i n t he development of all facets of your child, while providing one-stop shopping. The s c h l e p p i n g a b o u t t o activities, arranging tutors and lessons and managing at h l e t i c pr ac t i c e s a nd events are all part of the all-inclusive programming provided. You must be able to support, embrace and partner with the school in this approach. You will enjoy your parental role on campus and with the faculty and administration
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