A Few Of The Private School Acceptances From Public Schools

We thought we’d share some of the private elementary school acceptances we’ve heard about from parents we know. These are instances where the families applied from public school and were accepted in grades higher than kindergarten at private elementary schools.

 
Here are the schools:
  • From 3rd St. Elementary School to Oakwood School for 2nd Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From 3rd St. Elementary School to Mirman for 4th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From 3rd St. Elementary School to St. James Episcopal School for 1st Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Larchmont Charter School to Marlborough School for 7th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Wonderland Elementary School to Oakwood School for 6th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Warner Elementary School To Willows Community School for 4th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Warner Elementary School to Turning Point for 4th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Oakwood for 6th Grade (2009)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Laurel Hall for 6th Grade (2009)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Buckley School for 4th Grade (2009)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Los Encinos for 4th Grade (2009)
  • From Kenter Elementary To Crossroads for 3rd grade and K (2008)
  • From Westwood Charter To The Willows for 2nd Grade (2010)
  • From Westwood Charter To Wildwood for 1st Grade (2009)
Obviously, these are just a few of the acceptances from public schools. Maybe this will inspire you if you’re considering a move from public to private school. Or, you may be thinking about starting in public school, with a plan to apply to private schools in higher grades…

 

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Private Elementary School Parent Associations: Not Your Average PTAs

 

 

 

 

 

Wacky antics, stealth agendas, soap opera plots, screaming fights, politics more labyrinthine than Capitol Hill. Is this a high powered, testostorone-fueled corporate boardroom? No, this is just your average LA private elementary school parent association.

 

Volunteering at your child’s school can be as fun as a girlfriend’s lunch or about as dreadful as spending time with a bunch of mean girls.

 

All the private elementary schools have parent associations. Some schools make sure the administration keeps a tight rein on the activities of the group for obvious reasons. Other schools take the approach that the parent association and it’s event are “parent run” and therefore somewhat out of the control of the school. Parent associations are a very visible reflection of the school in many ways, especially when they are responsible for numerous school events each year and selecting parents to serve on volunteer committees.

 

Here are a few types of parent association volunteers you might encounter:

 

The Professional. Accustomed to working efficiently in a high-level job, this no-nonsense mom doesn’t have time to waste. She knows how to run a meeting and cut to the chase. She doesn’t suffer fools easily. If she gets antsy, she won’t look up from her Blackberry.

 

The Flake. You’ll see her name everywhere there is a volunteer job to be done, but you’ll never see her. She’ll text the person in charge at the last minute with an excuse. But, her name was all over the place, so that’s all she cares about.

 

The Micromanager. She clings tightly to her job and likes to keep those under her on a tight leash. Refusing to share helpful information, this volunteer is not a team player.

 

The Reliable One. The most loved volunteer. She’s always willing to help, no matter what the task or how late at night she gets called. She shows up, does the work and leaves. No drama. No problem.

 

The Hidden Agenda. This mom has an agenda. It may be to be appointed to the board of the school. It may have to do with her child. Either way, she’s using volunteer work to advance her agenda and will step on anyone who gets in her way.

 

The Talker. Her divorce, dating life, problems with her kids. It’s all about her during meetings. She’s hard to shut up and if you try, she may just keep talking.

 

The Self-Designated Super-Star. She jets in at the last second to find fault with other volunteers decorations, yearbook design or other work. She insists on redoing the work herself so she feels like she contributed. She angers other volunteers with her sheer arrogance.

 

The Leader. Brings people together, motivates parents to stay late and makes it fun. A true leader who everyone wants to work with.

 

In Over Her Head. This mom means well, but just doesn’t have the skills or ability to do the job she’s supposed to do. Usually people try to work around her, but sometimes, she’ll be asked to step aside if a big project starts to fall apart.

 

Toxic Mom. By far the worst of the bunch. She is unbalanced to begin with and a pressure-filled volunteer role makes her mean and antagonistic toward anyone she perceives as a threat. Try to figure out who she is early on and steer clear!

 

 

My shouting match one morning with a mom from the parent association (she’s also on the board) in the Willows School parent lounge filled with other parents isn’t one of my proudest moments. Tensions were running high. I was exhausted. It was the final few days before the auction fundraiser (I was a co-chair) and this mom came in swinging. This cringeworthy episode was, unfortunately, not all that unusual for private elementary school parent-run events. But, I learned my lesson. I’m just not cut out for parent association volunteering. I help our school in other ways, but I now stay far away from the parent association. Its in my best interest…and theirs too.

 

 

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One Mom’s Story: From Public to Private Elementary School For 4th Grade

An Unlikely Private School Success Story

 

I guess I’ve given away any chance of a surprise ending to this blog post. Yes, unlike many private school admissions horror stories, this scenario has a happy ending.

 

There’s really no reason why it should. As an applicant, my nine year old daughter wasn’t any sort of shoo-in on the admissions front. Anna* was a public school kid, matriculating through the grades at 3rd St. Elementary pretty seamlessly. But the clock was ticking on the public school front. She seemed under stimulated. Funding for the school was in constant jeopardy, with programs under threat of extinction. And then, there was that dreaded “gap year” to worry about. It all finally came to a head when LAUSD was slow to test Anna for gifted status. I arranged for a private test, just to see what was what. And when the results came in, it seemed clear that private school was in her immediate future.

 

In retrospect, we were total idiots about the whole process. Completely naïve. Because we hadn’t reached this private school revelation until Anna was in 3rd grade, she’d missed that private school 3rd grade entrance year. Fourth grade would be harder. We are a divorced family, and while everyone is doing just fine, thanks, it’s not like anyone’s rolling in dough; there would be no school buildings with our names on it.

 

Nevertheless, we moved blithely onwards. Next step was picking the schools. We divided and conquered on this one, with my significant other helping as well. It was clear that Anna needed a lot of structure, since in a looser progressive environment she’d probably stage a military junta and start her own small country. We looked at St. James, which was lovely, but perhaps not academically challenging enough. We looked at Curtis, but we weren’t sure it was a good fit for a number of reasons. We also looked at a school that was well-meaning, but was so gooey and precious, we knew it wouldn’t work for Anna. That was out.

 

Here’s where we were idiots once again: we only ended up applying to two schools. No safety. This narrowed our chances for success even further. So Mirman and John Thomas Dye it was, based solely on what we felt was right for her: traditional, academically challenging, and small.

 

And then there were the interviews. It’s probably stressful for everyone, but in a divorce situation you really feel like you’re under the microscope. I think admissions directors are looking for any sort of tension between the ex-spouses, constantly checking for signs of trouble. It’s hard to blame them, really. We get along just fine, but I did feel the scrutiny bearing down on us. As far as appearances for the interviews, I went for something slightly more conservative than my usual garb (I teach Pilates and write. My style can best be described as “fashionable slob”). So my t-shirts were traded for button downs, I kept the jeans but wore flats rather than Converse, and I added a lovely scarf. We wrote the ADs very correct thank-you notes.

 

There were some notable differences in the interview process at each school. Mirman was primarily interested in the child. She was interviewed solo; we were interviewed with her present. She spent a half day at the school, simply participating in classroom activities. She took a test, of course. The whole process was extremely child centered, which we liked since she’s the one who would attend the place.

 

John Thomas Dye, on the other hand, was all about the family. We were interviewed together, which meant Anna clammed up. There was a huge stress put on the families engaging as a community, which sounded great, except that I couldn’t get a handle on what sort of families belonged there. There was a lot of stress put on the divorced status, with the AD talking about divorced couples she’d interviewed who couldn’t stand to be in the same room together. Obviously, that’s not the case here, but I got the feeling that we were being tested as a “unit” the entire time.

 

Both schools were great, though. There was no question that each would keep Anna engaged, involved, and out of trouble. The kids at both schools seemed very nice. Anna liked the schools, although she was apprehensive about leaving her environment. We settled in to wait for the letters.

 

And then she was wait listed. At both schools.

 

Oh, boy. Although we knew that with only two schools in the running and a 4th grade entrance Anna’s chances were slim, it was still a bummer. But, we did all the right things. Made the calls, stressed how interested we were, offered to build a science lab (kidding). And then we promptly forgot all about it.

 

The call from Mirman came in early July. It was a complete surprise. “There’s a spot that’s opened up in Room 4,” the admissions director said on my voicemail. “We’d like to offer it to Anna.” Needless to say, we jumped at it.

 

So how lucky is that? Admission for an off year, only applying to two schools, not offering millions of dollars, no reference letters from titans of business, initially wait listed, and then, finally, acceptance. Yes, we didn’t do everything right. It was stressful and, as I’ve previously mentioned, we were idiots. But, somehow, the whole thing worked out.

 

I really wish I’d known about this blog when we first started this process. I would have been far more prepared for the private school admissions reality. And then, perhaps, I could have relied more upon wits than luck. But, there’s always middle school admission to worry about, so I guess there’s another opportunity on the distant horizon. Bleh.

 

* Name changed for privacy. Thank you to our guest blogger, Jenny Heitz, for sharing her story. Jenny’s daughter attended preschool at Montessori Shir-Hashirim. You can find her blogging at www.findatoad.com a fabulous, well-edited site for adult and kids gifts under $200.

Next time we’ll post a list of some of the recent private elementary school acceptances from public schools.

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From Public Elementary School To Private: Making The Switch

We thought we’d share some of the private elementary school acceptances we’ve heard about from parents we know. These are instances where the families applied from public school and were accepted in grades higher than kindergarten at private elementary schools.


Here are the schools:
  • From 3rd St. Elementary School to Oakwood School for 2nd Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From 3rd St. Elementary School to Mirman for 4th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From 3rd St. Elementary School to St. James Episcopal School for 1st Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Larchmont Charter School to Marlborough School for 7th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Wonderland Elementary School to Oakwood School for 6th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Warner Elementary School To Willows Community School for 4th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Warner Elementary School to Turning Point for 4th Grade (Fall 2010)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Oakwood for 6th Grade (2009)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Laurel Hall for 6th Grade (2009)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Buckley School for 4th Grade ( 2009)
  • From Carpenter Elementary to Los Encinos for 4th Grade (2009)
Obviously, these are just a few of the acceptances from public schools. Maybe this will inspire you if you’re considering a move from public to private school. Or, you may be thinking about starting in public school, with a plan to apply to private schools in higher grades…

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Admissions Directors: The Keys To The Empire


A post yesterday on a parenting blog caught my eye. A mom on a well-known LA site wrote that she didn’t like the admissions process at a private elementary school in LA. She thought it was outdated and antiquated. The school in question is a fairly traditional school, so it’s possible that the admissions process is traditional too. It got me thinking: what if you are really turned off by the admissions process? Does that mean you should let your feelings about the admissions director or the school’s admissions process determine your feelings about the entire school?


Each school has a unique admissions process. Some are more rigorous than others. Certain schools give parents the feeling they are trying to weed out kids through the process. Other schools make the admissions testing or visiting day seem like it’s merely a formality, but certainly not something that could make or break your child’s chances for acceptance.

The main point to remember is that you just have to get through the admissions process and you won’t have to deal with the admissions director again once your child is at the school, unless, of course, you like him or her. I really like Kim Feldman, the admissions director at the Willows, and so I’m always happy to see her.

At one LA private elementary school, the admissions director is known for being eccentric and odd. She asks the kids to hop on one foot during admissions testing. This, for some parents, is a huge deal breaker. Would this be enough for you to drop out of the process at that school? I toured this school and for a number of reasons, including the weird arrogance of the admissions director, chose not to apply. But, I have friends who have kids at the same school who are very happy there.

When I think of words to describe some of the admissions directors I encountered, here’s what comes to mind: Professional, low-key, quirky, odd, old-fashioned, unpredictable and drunk with power.

Still, I didn’t let my feelings about most of the admissions directors deter me from completing the process at the schools where really I wanted my daughter to attend. I had some bad moments before it was all over ( a terrible parent interview, stomach pain, and other stresses we discuss in the book).

I’ve concluded that private elementary school admissions directors occupy a unique place in LA. They are the gatekeepers who hold the keys to the empire. If you want a spot in their empire, you must convince them to unlock the door for you!



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