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carpe-diem.jpgIn a piece for SmartMoney (The Private School Pinch), Neil Parmer makes the case for the current private school admission cycle as a buyers opportunity. He doesn't sugar coat the costs but he makes the case for- and provides ideas and examples- of the negotiating and buying opportunities available to parents.

Boarding and private schools need to fill their seats and beds and are open to all sorts of considerations, strategies and questions from parents regarding tuition- ideas and discussions that schools wouldn't have entertained just a year ago.

Schools are doing their parts trimming and containing costs and tuition and they are willing to work with parents under the same pressures.

"...But look around the country these days and you'll see that admissions math is in flux...

Recession specials have also been cropping up at schools around the country, with tuition discounts reported as high as 20 percent...

And while you won't see "bartering" listed in any of its official financial-aid literature, the Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., has allowed a couple of folks to do just that. According to the school's head, Ann Pollina, several parents at the all-girls college prep have traded their professional services -- as technology and business-efficiency consultants -- for a little tuition relief...

In the past, of course, it's been the parents who have had to go to great lengths to get their children into the more elite schools. But since the economy went south, the game has changed; now it's the schools that are having to hustle -- and maybe even lower their standards. Instead of waiting for the applications to roll in, more are forced to actively beat the bushes, consultants say, to fill spots that have opened midyear. Even in the most competitive markets, there's talk of more "brokering" going on..." (SmartMoney)

If you're considering boarding or private school for student, an opportunity may be at hand.

Photo credit: Randy OHC

The Benefits of Girls Schools: now on to longitudinal studies

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are single gender schools good for girlsHuffington Post contributor Susan Sawyers also posted some thoughts about the National Coalition of Girls Schools study confirming benefits for girls in single gender schools (Are Single Sex Schools Good for Girls?). While nothing earth shattering, her comments are an interesting, "yes, but..."Clearly, single gender education cultivates some benefits. Is it a panacea? No. The complexity requires more research.

"...But the question remains, however, if these seemingly confident public-speaking women will be able to express themselves in the workforce, in the company of men and around the boardroom table. First they have to get there. This leaves room for further studies that look at women's aspirations and accomplishments after they complete college or graduate school. It would be good to generate some numbers for women twenty or thirty years out of high school. You go girls, no matter where you are, we are cheering for you."

To read our post, visit: "Lasting Power of Girls Schools: more than anecdotal"
Highlighted in the current National Coalition of Girls' Schools newsletter is a UCLA study confirming the lasting affects of a girls school education on graduates. I find the most interesting aspect of the study coming from its longitudinal view. Alumnae seem to carry and benefit from their girls school experiences deep into college and graduate work. I'd love to know if girls school alumnae and their coeducation alumnae ever gain equal education footing? Just how deep into life do these advantages carry?

Interesting work.

"According to the UCLA report, which was commissioned by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, girls' school graduates consistently assess their abilities, self-confidence, engagement and ambition as either above average or in the top 10 percent. Compared to their coed peers, they have more confidence in their mathematics and computer abilities and study longer hours. They are more likely to pursue careers in engineering, engage in political discussions, keep current with political affairs, and see college as a stepping stone to graduate school...

    (Skipping over data conclusions)

As the UCLA study points out, girls' schools graduates rate themselves more successful and engaged in precisely those areas in which male students have historically surpassed them - mathematics, computers, engineering, and politics. The findings may undermine opponents of girls' schools, who argue that single-sex education accentuates sex-based stereotypes and widens the gender gap."

Westover School and Brass City Ballet Expand Their Collaboration

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Westover School and Brass City Ballet have expanded their five year joint program with a new opportunity beginning fall 2009. The new program will "provide more intensive ballet instruction for Westover students and bring new talent to Brass City Ballet."

The expanded program offers Westover students the opportunity to become members of Brass City Ballet's Performing Company along with accompanying opportunities to perform in "Brass City Ballet's major productions such as The Nutcracker and Spring Gala."

Elizabeth Barisser, Artistic Director of Brass City Ballet, sees great benefits and the opportunity to reach world wide talent through partnering with Westover.  "[BCB Enhanced Program] will allow Brass City Ballet to welcome new talent, which will not be limited to local talent."
Hannah McConnaughay, an Outreach Education and Training Associate at the Interfaith Youth Core of Chicago contributed today's installment of the Newsweek/Washington Post's "On Faith" blog (Finding Citizen Change-Makers at Boarding School).

A Chicago native she found herself wistful, sad, irritated, and a little jealous that she would miss President Obama's inauguration.

On inauguration day she found herself on St. Timothy School's campus, working with St. Timothy's students. And, in the end, she understood that there's no place that she would have rather- or should- have been.

Here's an excerpt:

"As I heard about these young women's activities repairing local animal shelters, painting elementary schools, and providing food for the struggling, I saw how they walked their talk, acknowledging their strong differences but working together to provide needed services.

Pretty soon, I realized that I was spending my Inauguration weekend with the people that President Obama was talking about in his Inaugural address, the citizen change-makers who are waking up with a "spirit of service," working with their neighbors, and taking pride in their nation. In the weeks since visiting St. Timothy's, I've only become more convinced that that's right where I need to be." (Washington Post)
Today I'm taking folks at Westover School, a girls boarding school in Middlebury, CT, through my social media workshop. As with each workshop, my desire is to be both theoretical and practical. One goal the workshop is to collaborate with the school to produce a finished blog post (missing accomplished!).

As homework, my Westover friends sent a list of five happenings/programs/events that they'd like to get the story out on.

Five Things to Know about Westover School

  1. WISE program and our push toward enrolling more in this award-winning program.

  2. Special program with Manhattan School of music.

  3. Special Dance program with Brass City Ballet.

  4. Solar/co-generation "Green" project that will provide our campus with 25% of our own energy.

  5. Our exchange programs: getting them more attention!

Time permitting, I hope that we can focus on one (or two) of these and record a podcast conversation around it. My goal is to post it to the Boarding School Podcast next week.

I hope to be able to do some live blogging and tell the workshop's story as we move through tomorrow.   Updates should appear on Twitter.

In the meantime, think about which of the topics might interest you and take some time to learn more about Westover School.

Congratulations to Annie Wright School. The school is celebrating its 125th year (2009)-- during this time the school has grown from 46 students to 453 girls from 21 countries. (The News Tribune)

The schools founding "fulfilled the dreams of the Right Rev. John Adams Paddock and railroad executive-developer Charles Wright to establish a school for girls and young women. Wright wanted the development of joyous young women with broad minds, refined tastes and quiet strength..." (The News Tribune)

Concurrent to its 125th year, Annie Wright recently received notice that it has been become an accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. The IB makes a broad outward looking international education available to the school's students.

125 years & IB accreditation- two great achievements.

To hear a firsthand take on the International Baccalaureate, listen to our podcast conversation with Verde Valley School's Head, Paul Domingue- Verde Valley School and the IB: Cultivating International Mindedness. During our conversation he spoke about the school's adoption of the IB curriculum and diploma.
Today's Memphis Commercial Appeal includes an interesting story covering school single gender classrooms in the Memphis public school system. This article makes a good addition to the vigorous discussion surrounding single gender education.

Much like The Webb Schools, about which we've written, Memphis has seen learning and test score improvements since providing lower school (9th and 10th grades) boys and girls with their own spaces beginning in fall 2006.

Like Webb, Memphis bases their decision to offer single gender classrooms on the research of Dr. Leonard Sax who points out that single gender classrooms have historically been the province of private schools and those who can afford them. Dr. Sax argues single gender classrooms and their benefits should be a public school choice as well.

Moving to single gender classrooms is not without its risks.  As Dr. Sax told the Commercial Appeal:

"...simply putting girls in one room and boys in another accomplishes very little and can lead to disaster...One danger is reinforcing gender stereotypes by teaching algebra to girls based on shopping analogies or packing lessons for males with football.

  Not all boys like football. You end up disadvantaging children who don't fit the stereotype"
Effective single gender classrooms require thought, planning and understanding. The single gender classroom is a means, not an end.

Memphis is enjoying great success with the understanding and tool provided by the single gender means.

Our previous commentary on single gender education was prompted by a spirited exchange between Lenora M. Lapidus, Director & Emily J. Martin, Deputy Director of ACLU Women's Rights Project- New York and Meg Moulton, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools.
In our three years of interviewing, we just went to our first open house/visiting day and wished we had attended more. Our day at this pretty, well-kept girls' school began with a warm welcome by the admissions staff and breakfast in the dining hall. From the beginning I knew I would like the school as the fruit was fresh, the pastries delicious and the coffee served with real cream or milk, not those "tear-the-top off the plastic bottom" creamers. Poised, well-spoken students were working the room talking with families about their experience at the school. After an introduction by the head of admissions and the head of school, the parents were escorted to a panel discussion by students and faculty and for a tour while our daughters went separately for their own tour and panel.

We were so impressed by all the young women who spoke to us, most of all because while each was articulate and confident, they all seemed comfortable with their different gifts and styles. We were equally inspired by the faculty, all of whom spoke thoughtfully about the benefits of single-sex education and all clearly had warm relationships with the girls. On our tour confirmed that this is a school that is true to its mission and educating young women who will make a positive contribution to society.

The formal part of the visit concluded with a sit-down lunch with members of the administration and faculty and a performance by a student group. The head of school made a point of speaking to every family, which certainly made us feel wanted. After lunch our daughter had her interview during which members of the faculty were again available to talk with parents. Our investment of a day at this school was certainly worth it as we have a better understanding of the culture and philosophy of this wonderful school that we would not have gained had we just come for an interview.
During the recent IECA conference I was able to find some time outside of the conference hotel to visit three Maryland girls' boarding schools: St. Timothy's School, Garrison Forest School and Oldfields School.

Visiting schools is the bread and butter of the consultant trade. Visits allow me to check-in and see how my students are doing and I'm able to get a feel and impression for where the school is presently. We all know what the admission materials say. I like to see where the school stands today; what are the happenings and how is everyone- faculty, students, administration- thinking.

Below, I've shared my quick impressions of these three girls schools as each applies their approaches and perspectives to girls' education.

St. Timothy's School
St. Timothy's is a small, safe, lovely diverse campus with a supportive community providing each student with a very positive and well-rounded liberal arts education. I found lots of energy on campus with the Brownie and Spider teams displaying their school sprit in a very positive manner.

Academically St. T's provides a very challenging, college preparatory curriculum based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) program (for more on the IB visit: St. Timothy's School: North America's only all-girls boarding school offering the IB). The School is very inviting for a student who would enjoy a small single sex boarding community with horses and who wants success academically, socially, personally. Additionally, St. T's offers some very interesting summer and community service programs.

I found St. Timothy's girls to be a warm, friendly and very hard working students. Administration, faculty, and students were all outstanding and the common areas and dorms were warm and inviting to all.

Oldfield's School
Oldfields enjoys a diverse student body with a college-preparatory curriculum in a rural family-like community. Oldfield's commits to meeting the needs and maximizing the potential of each student.

The school has a fine visual and performing arts program, riding, dance, and extensive extracurricular activities. Students and teachers use wireless lap top computers and smart boards.

For two weeks each year, the school's "May Program" gives each student an opportunity to explore an interest in depth. Each student breaks from their regular classes to immerse themselves in a real-world experience that connects to one of their interests. From the study of biology in Costa Rica, to the business of a horse shows, community service in Peru, or comedy television writing, students select from a dozen different options. The "May Program" has been a hallmark of the school for thirty five years and many Oldfields alumnae have gone on to careers discovered through "May Program."

Garrison Forest School
Garrison Forest provides a very challenging academic atmosphere for girl's in a primarily day school with a small boarding population.

The girls create a lot of positive energy on campus. They were self-assured and presented themselves impressively. The GFS/JHU (WISE) program for women in science and engineering stood out. Johns Hopkins University guides this program to support women in math and sciences; check it out at: www.gfs.org/WISE . They also offer many AP's, a wide range of electives and extensive art courses (dance, photography) and a full athletic program with turf fields which also include riding and polo.

Day girls are encouraged to live on campus and participate in weekend activities on a regular basis. Each day student I met assured me that they have taken advantage on living on campus for four weeks or they themselves became a boarder for their senior year.


Need help with your boarding school search? Contact Marylou to learn how she can help guide you through the admission process.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Girls' Schools category.

Gap Year is the previous category.

Green Campuses is the next category.

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