The ABCs of Admissions Testing (video)

Here’s a video we created to give you a behind-the-scenes look at L.A private elementary school admissions testing. Porcha Dodson, Beyond The Brochure co-author, administered admissions testing at The Curtis School. Please note that a few schools, including The Willows, will visit applicant kids at preschool rather than test them at the school.

Waverly School’s Organic Farm Plants 27 Apple Trees!

The Waverly School, a progressive school in Pasadena, spanning young kindergarten through 12th grade, is utilizing a unique method originated in France, a “fruit wall” to plant 27 apple trees at its farm. While a yearlong working farm, this is the largest single planting effort for The Waverly Organic Farm in its 15 years of existence.

Waverly Students Planting Apple Trees: Kids From Young K to High School Celebrate Spring

“The farm exemplifies our interdisciplinary and experiential approach to learning.  Our students engage in scientific observation and experimentation, create works of art, write poems, and plant the foods of other cultures at the farm,” said Waverly Head of School, Heidi Johnson. “In addition, they have opportunities to taste freshly picked produce and play in nature.”

 

This project will be integrated into the curriculum for students and the planting effort is being overseen by the Waverly parent and Organic Farm coordinator Barbara Ayers. At a recent fundraiser sponsored by Whole Foods Market’s Arroyo location, monies were raised for a cider press which will be used for apple harvesting. The apples are coming from a grower in Riverside County, Kevin Hauser of Kuffel Creek Nursery.

 

The Waverly Organic Farm apple hedge is going to be made up of about half Fujis, and then a mix of more unusual varieties: “Sierra Beauty,” “Stump,” and “Molly’s Delicious” in addition to a selection of crab apples (“Etter Crab,” “Wickson Crab,” and more) to add tang to the school’s apple cider.

The Apple Trees Are Growing!

An apple orchard coming soon!

Waverly School Farm

The Waverly Farm is an outdoor classroom for teachers to take their classes for writing, observations of wildlife and to conduct science experiments. The Farm allows for curriculum related projects, such as:

  • Math: calculate crop yields, make planting charts and graphs;
  • Science: garden ecology and plant biology; the effect of climate on crop cultivation and human survival;
  • Language Arts: write comparative essays on colonial life and students’ own lives in regard to food production and consumption; creative writing related to observations in nature;
  • Nutrition and Health: compare a colonial diet with today’s diet;
  • Creative Arts: create artwork based on natural observations, design and build farm implements, create harvest songs and recreate harvest festivals; and
  • Physical Education: engage in activities like capture the flag, run around the track and swinging from the tire swing.

Waverly School Garden

 

In the existing brown space children and their adult companions can run, climb, dig, poke, closely observe and actively explore a variety of existing environments. They can dream up different imaginative games in this space. The essence of the space is that it is complex, protected, unformed and natural which is valuable in and of itself, and raises multiple possibilities, each worthy of pursuit. - Source: The Waverly School News Release

 

For more information, visit, The Waverly School 

 


 



Guest Blogger Jenny Heitz Got Married! See Her Wedding Pic!

A huge congratulations to our wonderful, talented guest blogger, Jenny Heitz and her husband, John. They got married! And, Jenny discovered a very cool wedding gift too.

Read all about it on Jenny’s blog, Find A Toad

 

Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Jenny is a graduate of Crossroads. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School last year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News and on Mamapedia, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, Hybrid Mom, The Culture Mom and A Child Grows In Brooklyn. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.


 

 

Guest Blogger Audrey: My Roller Coaster Ride Applying To L.A. Private Elementary Schools

The admissions process is like a roller coaster

The roller coaster of applying to Los Angeles private elementary schools is not just hype.  From the moment you decide to tour schools to the day decision letters arrive, you can confront such an array of emotions that by the end of March you find yourself at times not caring about the outcome anymore.

 

I was amazed to face intense fears, doubts, financial concerns and consternation of friends and family (who believe children will do fine in public school and cannot fathom spending so much money on Kindergarten).  I figured I had until college applications for all of that.  Sure, there had been fear and doubt over potty training, pacifier use and the typical parental dilemmas, but this felt like the first significant decision that could affect my daughter’s path for years to come.

 

A year ago January I heard about a private school with a pre-K program one week before the application deadline.  Hoping I could get my daughter accepted before the Kindergarten rush, I applied without looking at any other schools.  When she was accepted, I panicked and declined after realizing how much more research I wanted to do.

 

I had no idea what other schools looked like or what they offered and I certainly wasn’t well versed in all things private school.  I didn’t realize that I would have to pay our following year’s deposit before hearing back from other schools to which we may have wanted to apply.  I didn’t realize that private schools might not want to accept a child who already has a “spot” at another private school.  I didn’t realize that almost every other school I visited would diminish the “wow” factor I had experienced at this first school.  At the end of the day, what I did realize was that I needed to learn how to do “the dance.”

 

Applying to– and getting accepted at– L.A. private schools is in fact a well-orchestrated dance.  There may be multiple partners on the dance floor with your family such as your preschool director, preschool teachers, each head of school and/or admissions director (oftentimes one in the same) and influential friends with ties to that school.  In addition, there are ways to enhance your dancing like how involved you are in your child’s preschool, how powerful a career you or your spouse possess and how much wealth or influence the school perceives your family as having.

 

This past fall after copious research, I was ready to tour schools.  I looked at schools big, tiny, progressive, artsy, highly academic, “old school/old money”, religious, one where the kids play sports in the parking lot, and ones that have every state-of-the-art facility possible.  You name it, I looked at it.  I felt I knew which would be a good fit for my daughter, but for comparison’s sake I wanted to see even those I felt would not suit her.  This proved to be invaluable confirmation of the philosophy and environment in which I wanted my daughter.

 

Our family applied to three private schools.  I told my husband that I only wanted to submit applications to schools we truly felt would be a good match for our daughter and our family.  I did not want to apply to a large number of schools, simply to increase our chances of getting accepted.

 

I spent days anguishing on application answers and nights tormenting my poor husband on re-writes.  We parsed every word, second-guessed each thought process, and tried to imagine what the ADs would think of how we approached our daughter’s strengths and weaknesses.  Each school asked slightly different questions and there was no use trying to copy and paste.  Reaching my breaking point I shut down, telling my husband the answers were as good as they were going to get.

 

The interviews caused the most tension between us.  Not only was I concerned about my own appearance and answers, but also I found myself scrutinizing my husband’s choice of attire and worrying about what he might say.  These interviews ranged from down-to-earth conversations about college football and potty training to a “family interview” where my daughter on her own drew a lovely picture and wrote each of our names before handing it to the AD as a gift.

 

Our last interview was the most bizarre with multiple conflicting remarks and unusual questions such as the last, “Would you like your daughter to be considered for admission?”  I wanted to love this school because it was very close to our home and seemed in line with what we wanted for our daughter.  However, with each interaction its appeal diminished and with our interview, any desire to enroll her disappeared.

 

The day acceptance e-mails and letters were arriving found us sitting in a restaurant refreshing e-mail on our phones.  Exactly at noon our first e-mail acceptance appeared.  Tears immediately flowed as my husband and I became choked up over our daughter’s accomplishment.  Several minutes later another acceptance arrived via our Inbox.  A few more hugs and we were beaming with pride.  Pride over our daughter, who of course we think is exceptional, and I actually allowed myself a small moment of joy over any part I may have played in her success.

 

When we returned home our mailbox was stuffed with two large envelopes and one small.  We were waitlisted by the school that had lost all attractiveness.  In fact, they did not accept any family from our preschool save one sibling and even our preschool director was confused and disappointed.  Multiple families had similar, peculiar experiences and interviews.  We have since heard that any family who did not communicate to the school that it was their #1 choice was either waitlisted or declined.  I feel confident that I could have gotten my daughter admitted.  However, recognizing that this school was not our first choice, I did not utilize every resource, did not indicate it was our first choice and intentionally fell short of saying those five necessary words:  If accepted, we will enroll.  I can live with that.

 

In my heart I knew which school I wanted my daughter to attend.  I could picture her on this campus, thriving and spreading her wings.  With each visit I found myself wanting to volunteer or work there due to the uplifting and positive environment.  The combination of a beautiful setting, state-of-the-art facilities, strong academic reputation, solid administration and so many opportunities was tremendous.  Think again, though, if you concluded that our choice was straightforward.

 

In spite of all that, we struggled until the deadline over which school to choose.  One was an easier commute and more likely to have families living closer to us.  The other had better facilities for sports, science and the like.  The former seemed more laid back and was several thousand dollars less.  The latter had an impressive, well-rounded curriculum with a strong academic reputation.

 

In the end, we decided on the latter school.  Asking ourselves “If money was no object where would we send her?” we had our answer.  Nonetheless, for us money is a consideration.  We are not a wealthy, prominent family.  However, we are willing to do whatever we can to give our daughter an opportunity to receive the best education.

 

We had no letters of recommendation.  We had no friends who attended these schools to put in a good word.  At our preschool I have been a room parent, past co-chair of both the Fundraising and Silent Auction committees and am currently a board member of our parent association.  Not one application asked about my husband or me and I chose to answer their questions without inserting self-accolades.  In our interviews no one inquired about our preschool involvement, what we could bring to their school or if we intended to volunteer or donate money.  Still, many private schools do put great emphasis on these details and as part of the dance moves I learned, I was prepared for all of the above should they have occurred.  This is all to say that while I learned the formal dance steps, sometimes all it takes is a little rhythm and your own style.

 

Audrey Young has a background in Healthcare Compliance where she performed detailed research and analysis.  She is a native of Los Angeles and attended public schools and universities.  Her private school admission experience set in motion a desire to help guide parents through this process and ease any confusion, fear and anxiety.  She is launching an admission consulting business, The Admission Team, and will be available to families applying for the 2013-14 school year and beyond.  Audrey can be reached at theadmissionteam@gmail.com.  Her daughter will be attending Kindergarten at Viewpoint School in September.

Guest Blogger Samantha: My Son Wasn’t Held Back…He Was Given A Chance To Move To The Front!

 

Redshirting For Kindergarten: A Popular Trend

I’m from Texas, and there, redshirting is a term used in football.  I had no idea what it meant concerning kindergarten, but I was soon to find out…

 

My son has a summer birthday.  I didn’t plan it that way, of course, that was up to the Gods.  In fact, he was born 9.5 weeks early, so he would have been almost an Autumn baby if things had worked out as they were supposed to, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

 

Anyway, when it came time for kindergarten, my kiddo still seemed young.  Not chronologically, necessarily, but he was still carrying around his transitional object, read: lovey.  Need I say more?

 

It’s not that my boy couldn’t go to kindergarten — he’d met all the cut off dates, and he was ready intellectually.  It’s that he would probably be learning phonics from underneath a table or while somersaulting, because emotionally it was clear that he wasn’t ready.

 

Initially my husband wasn’t happy with the idea that he was being “held back”.  But, as I told him, and now share with you, I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.

 

See, my son wasn’t held back, he was given room to move to the front.

 

We gave my son a gift, which allowed him to have a little more time to mature and, as a consequence, gain self-confidence.  As one of the oldest boys in his class, he became a leader at his preschool; a child the other kids looked up to.   He was the cool, older guy.  Ya know, the one who’d moved past Star Wars and graduated to Harry Potter. That’s serious stuff at a preschool. It was truly wonderful to watch!

 

When kindergarten time came, my son was six and he was ready.  My boy felt good about himself and I knew I didn’t have to worry.  Juxtaposed to how unsure I was of his ability the year before, it was such a relief!

 

And, it goes without saying, my husband thinks it’s one of the greatest ideas he ever came up with (whose idea was it?), and both of us think it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

 

In the end I gave my son a better head on his shoulders as he starts his journey through school and into adulthood, and who can argue that isn’t a good thing?

 

Here’s a previous post on Redshirting from Perfectly Disheved. It includes the 60 Minutes story on the topic.
Samantha Goodman is the mom of a First Grader at Wildwood School and a preschooler at 10th St. Preschool in Santa Monica. Samantha’s son also attended 10th St. Preschool. Before her current parenting hiatus she was a screenwriter in Hollywood and for now writes on her blog, Lifewithsmalls.blogspot.com 

 

Event: Demystifying The L.A. Private Elementary School Admissions Process

Please join MomAngeles for an informative and fun evening at Books & Cookies in Santa Monica as Christina Simon and Porcha Dodson co-authors of Beyond the Brochure, and Jamie Bakal of L.A. School Mates share their expertise about the private elementary school application process and answer your questions.

 

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with lite fare and networking. This is a great chance to peruse the books and toys at Books & Cookies and find out about their class offerings.

 

Thursday, April 12, 2012. Discussion starts promptly at 7:00 pm.

Topics will include:
- Selecting Which Schools To Visit
- The Parent Interview
- Your Child’s Visiting/Testing Day
- Letters of Recommendation
- When To Use The Phrase, “if accepted, we will enroll”
- What To Do If Your Child Is Wait-Listed
- Financial Aid

 

Click on Momangeles to get your online tickets. Tickets are $30 and $45 per couple.

Guest Blogger Jenny: Don’t Be A Pretender When Applying to L.A. Private Schools

Does She Look Rich?

So you just read the above headline and thought, Well, doesn’t this seem obvious? Yes, you’re right, it does, but apparently there’s a portion of the population who are poseurs when it comes to applying to private schools.

 

The New York Post recently had an article about just how stressful it is to gain Junior’s admittance to a suitable private education institution. The article was called, “Parents Crack Over Admissions.” Parents were stressed out enough to require therapy after interviews (just proof that, if paid, someone will listen to just about anything).

 

But it gets worse. There is the alleged account of a single mother posing as a lesbian in order to get a leg up on the acceptance process. I could discuss the irony of all this until blue in the face, but instead I’m going to remind all of you engaged in this hellish application process of a few simple facts regarding The Great Pretender applicants.

 

  • If you pretend to be something that you’re not, the Admissions Director (AD) will know. Seriously, those ADs didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. It’s not their first rodeo. And you can’t pull the wool over their eyes. They know when you’re faking it. If you want to buy a fancy new Hermes handbag, go ahead, but don’t pretend to be fancy new people.
  • If you pretend to be something you’re not, your kid will know. Kids are not stupid. They recognize a faker immediately, which is why they don’t like to kiss certain relatives and have no use for particular babysitters. If you ask them to misrepresent themselves, or they see you act like completely different people, your child’s b.s. detector will go off, big time. And there might be trust and behavioral consequences.
  • If you pretend to be something you’re not, you’ll know. And, unfortunately, you’ll have to continue pretending long after your child’s acceptance into the school. It will get wearing. And that new handbag will pull your shoulder out of alignment.

Of course, there are moments during an interview when less than authentic behavior occurs. Sometimes it’s not even your fault. When my ex-husband and I were interviewed at a very exclusive, popular school (John Thomas Dye) a couple years ago, the AD seemed rather fixated on the fact that we were divorced, and that I had a boyfriend (now fiancé). Her probing made us a bit nervous, as if we were under a microscope (we are perfectly amicable, but she seemed to demand something more). And when she suggested at the end of the interview that we all walk off together, get in his car, and drive to mine, we did it. It looked forced, because it was.  I drove away feeling vaguely shamed. Our daughter didn’t get in. Was it a factor? I don’t know, but I’m glad she’s at Mirman (who didn’t give a fig about our divorce, but did focus on our child).

 

So hang tough. You don’t need to go shopping for a new bag or a new sexual orientation to gain acceptance to the school of your choice. Be authentically yourselves.  And hey, if you need that therapy, go for it. They’ve heard worse.

 

To read the article, click on NY Post

 

Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Jenny is a graduate of Crossroads. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School last year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News and on Mamapedia, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, Hybrid Mom, The Culture Mom and A Child Grows In Brooklyn. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.

 

Don’t miss photos, events and more! Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook