What a night! Our first ever local school parent panel event was definitely a night to remember. I decided to host the event after working for 30+ years with families looking for the same thing: the right neighborhood for their home, and the right school for their children. I thought, what better way to help educate these families than by introducing them to other families who have made it to the other side of these difficult decisions. I am grateful to be able to give back to the community in this way, and also so appreciative to all my friends who participated as panelists! I know I have smart friends, but I was truly blown away by the insightful and helpful information that each of our panelists shared.
On that note, I have compiled my favorite words of wisdom from each panelist to create a short guide for you.
(Alexander Graham) Bell Elementary | John Martin | Daughter in 3rd grade: "My wife, Stacey, and I love Bell Elementary for the simplest reason: our daughter loves to go to school and learn with a diverse group of children participating in three different programs (local, options, deaf). In addition, our community is very much centered around the school and education.”
- Feeder public high schools are improving
- Parent involvement is a very high priority
St. Josaphat School | Marc McDonald | Son in 8th grade, daughter in 5th grade, daughter in 2nd grade: "There are two main reasons why St. Josaphat is a special place. The first is their vision of developing a balanced student. The educational process fosters growth intellectually, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically. I find this to be a unique approach to student education. The goal is lofty, but the talented staff at St. Josaphat is making it happen. The second is the strong community built upon the unbridled efforts of the school families. Families invest their time, talent, and treasure, to make Saint Josaphat the best school it can be. The results are impressive."
- Based his decision on conversations with other parents
- Appreciates the integrated view of the student: spiritual, educational and social
Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School | Scott Schneider | Son in 1st grade: "The community at our school is really amazing and this includes the families and administration. Everyone is very close-knit and works together to create an exceptional academic and social environment."
- The warmth of the school is one of its attributes that sticks out the most (he gave an example of whenchildren from the class will call sick classmates to wish them well)
- Parental involvement is crucial to the success of a child and a school--neither will be successful without it
(Augustus H.) Burley School | Amy Shulman | Daughter in 6th grade: "I love how small the school is, and the high involvement by the parents and the teachers."
- At least 50% of 8th graders were admitted to their #1 choice high school
- Burley is a very small school (only about 55 children/grade) and the principal knows every student by name
British International School of Chicago | Neena Vlamis | Son in 8th grade, son in 5th grade: “British School’s curriculum allows my children to become open minded, out of the box thinkers, and holds the children to high standards.”
- The school features an internationally-based curriculum that starts in nursery school
- Standardized tests for the school remain consistent at their schools throughout the world
Latin School of Chicago | Keren Weiss | Son in 6th grade, daughter in 4th grade: "I love the sense of community amongst parents, faculty, and students. Everyone has a shared commitment to raising well-rounded, intellectually curious and responsible students."
- There is definitely a focus on academics, but because most children are applying at age 3, there is more of an emphasis on the whole child--the mind-health component
- Parental volunteering is an important part of the culture
Educational Consultant | Jane Herron: “The ‘right’ school for your child celebrates your child’s uniqueness, curiosities and excitement with discovery and exploration, in concert with your feelings of con dence, trust and connection to your child’s school.”
New considerations for parents when looking for a school include policies around safety and bullying--ask about these protocols at the schools you are considering