January 19, 2012

Psst, hey you, over here, have I got an investment for you….

4th & 5th graders at Friends' conduct a science experiment
Here in Boulder Valley, we are blessed with a profusion of good schools.  This is a community loaded with a first-class public school system, excellent charter schools, and a handful of outstanding independent schools.  There are schools with a wide variety of well-defined philosophies of teaching.  Choices for everyone.

Even though my own children are both too old to attend Friends’ – my daughters began middle school and high school in the fall – I choose to send them to independent schools.  It’s a huge financial sacrifice, no question. There are things we forego in order to make our choice work. And I couldn’t be happier.

Independent schools are nimble enough to move with the times.  We are mission-driven, not compliance-driven, and therefore continually reflecting on and refining our practices.  We keep up with the very latest research in brain development and teaching practice. Our right of self-determination is a motivating force for us to keep improving.  Free from regulation, we face market-based accountability.  In other words, choice.

The bad news (for the school) is that if you don’t like it here, you have other choices.  The good news (for parents and kids) is that if something isn’t working for you, we are here to listen and respond.  Quickly and effectively.

Here’s one example. I have recently been having a number of important conversations with teachers and parents about how well we challenge our students in math.  Our autonomy as an independent school is allowing us to think through significant changes in how we structure our day in the elementary school.  It gives us the freedom to develop a plan to meet the needs of our math learners in a better way.  I will have more details for you, and will ask for your feedback, at next month’s Parent Council meeting.

As a small independent school, we aim to be a caring, connected community.  I believe we’re doing pretty well and our families have a lot to do with that. Children who feel safe and secure and loved learn better.  Parents looking for a great school for their kids are smart to pick one that:

            -  fosters respect, honesty, and personal responsibility
            -  understands the individual learning styles of each child
-  hires teachers who are knowledgeable and caring
            -  gives kids frequent practice in oral and written communication
            -  focuses on the arts and on science
            -  believes in giving meaningful homework at the appropriate age
            -  encourages children and teachers to know themselves
            -  demands the best of kids academically
            -  teaches cooperation yet requires individual accountability
            -  expects creativity and problem-solving and thinking outside of the box
                       
We believe wholeheartedly that giving your child the very best start to his or her education at Friends’ Preschool and Elementary School will set them on a path to love learning and to be curious for a lifetime. 

Cost of dinner and a movie for a family of four:  $105

Cost of a day at Friends’ elementary school for a family in the mid-tier range: $73

Cost of investing in your child and giving him/her the tools to become resourceful, reflective, independent, imaginative, collaborative, academically prepared, and skillfully expressive, while surrounded by good friends and amazing, caring, wonderful adults:  Priceless

1 comment:

Carol Hoeffler said...

I have always appreciated how Friends' manages to adhere to its stated values and mission while also remaining nimble and responsive to education research and parents. Another facet of Friends' philosophy that I greatly value is this: When kids are allowed to discover what they love to learn and how they are able to learn best, the other pieces fall directly into place.