Chandler School: Acclaimed Academics On An Expansive Campus

Entrance to Chandler School

Entrance to Chandler School

 

Last year I was invited to attend a book signing at Chandler, organized by a friend who is a parent at the school. Connie Rice, the author of Power Concedes Nothing, was the eloquent and fascinating featured speaker. It was my first time at Chandler and the beauty of the campus awed me.

 

Inside the school

Inside the school

 

When the school invited me to tour and write about it, I happily accepted. John Finch, Chandler’s head of school, presides over one of Pasadena’s most in-demand institutions. The word that comes to mind when I think of Chandler is refined. John was friendly and generous with his time as he ushered me into his office to talk about the school. John garners praise from Chandler parents who applaud his excellent oratory skills, his years of educational experience and his ability to handle any situation that arises with diplomacy and fairness. Even after eight years at Chandler, John (or Mr. Finch as the kids call him) wears a coat and tie every day. A quintessential British headmaster, he greets the children every morning with a handshake, remembering all their names.

 

“Chandler’s curriculum is purposeful,” says John, as I ask him about what makes this K-8 school so impressive. “We want kids to think critically and work with their classmates to solve authentic problems,” he continued.

 

Outdoor space

Outdoor space

 

A champion of academic excellence, Chandler is a traditional school. It is located in several large craftsman-inspired buildings. Its woodsy aesthetic is carefully cultivated to blend with its ideal location, a tree-lined residential street.

 

Craftsman inspired buildings fit the neighborhood

Craftsman inspired buildings fit the neighborhood

 

With its sprawling outdoor campus, minutes from the heart of Old Town Pasadena. Chandler has distinguished itself as an academic powerhouse. Chandler’s is a traditional paradigm, with a laser focus on academic excellence and strong moral character. Many of the parents at Chandler are professionals such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, executives, and faculty at Cal Tech. Legacy families return with their kids, recalling their own wonderful experience at the school.

 

A Kindergarten classroom

A Kindergarten classroom

 

Gretchen Lurie, the admissions director took me on a campus tour. Gretchen is extremely knowledgeable about all things Chandler. She’s energetic and friendly, a mom of two-college age kids. Walking in and out of classrooms, Gretchen discussed the school’s multi-faceted programs. It bears repeating: Chandler’s is an academically rigorous program. Just as important, however, as subject matter learning is organization, which is emphasized by the school. Starting in kindergarten, kids learn how to study. There is about 10-15 minutes of homework per night for kindergarten. This increases by grade so that by 6th grade there is approximately 2 hours of homework per night. Each class has a teacher and an assistant. There are specialists for art, Spanish, science, library and music. Competitive team sports begin in 7th grade.

 

Kindergarten play area

Kindergarten play area

 

Chandler uses differential instruction to create learning groups for math and reading. There is fluidity between groups, meaning kids can move into different groups during the year. There are also pullout groups run by resources specialists for gifted or advanced kids and for those who need a bit more help.

 

Theater program

Theater program

 

The school uses a 1:1 laptop program in the Middle School. For K-2nd grades, there are iPads and laptops are introduced for grades 3-5. All technology is well integrated into the curriculum the students are learning. Chad is the school’s technology specialists who works in the Library, teaching Internet skills and other aspects of the use and application of technology.

 

Gretchen was very straightforward about Chandler’s admissions process, telling me that the school’s wait-list does open up and sometimes a family can be offered a spot as early as March or as late as August. It is a “very active” wait-list, she said. There are approximately 40 openings for kindergarten. There are two classes of about 20 kids per grade for Kindergarten. Chandler seeks “bright, motivated and well-rounded students who can benefit from a strong academic program…” (Source: Chandler School). Gretchen also let me know that for 2012-13, there were about 100 fewer 5 year-old students who took the Integrated Learning Solutions (ILS) readiness exam than in previous years. It may be a good year to apply!

 

The library

The library

A close-up of a corner of the library

A close-up of a corner of the library

 

The STEAM Program

Martin Voss, in charge of communications for the school, showed me several of Chandler’s facilities and provided me information about an exciting new program. STEAM is science, technology, engineering, art and math. It’s a very new development at Chandler, a project-based curriculum organized by grade. Each grade level in the school will be executing a project based on a theme.

 

STEAM will celebrate the end of the 2013 school year with STEAM week, where students and faculty show their work.

 

One of the first STEAM projects is one where Eighth-graders designed miniature golf courses in the classrooms based on some historical or geographical element. Students worked on these in their advisory groups. Within those groups, each student had a specific role, be it historian or brochure maker, accountant, architect, fabricator and more. Brochures were made in English and Spanish. The students updated their work on a Wiki page to detail the theme of the golf holes and all of their research with documentation. The students are enthused by STEAM and their ability to create and innovate.

 

The science lab

The science lab

 

Chandler is committed to finding the best resources in its community—and on its own campus!  First grade teacher, Christine Barry, was awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program’s Teacher Recognition award 2010-11. The fifth grade class took a visual calculus course with Caltech astrophysicist Dr. Mamikon Mnatsakanian, or just “Mamikon” to the students. Alumnus Ben Samuels, ’05, was elected president of the Harvard Crimson, joining Max Child, ’02, as the second Chandler to helm the Crimson in the last four years. (Source: Chandler School).

 

A garden grows at Chandler!

A garden grows at Chandler!

 

Chandler is a warm, nurturing school infused with a very traditional approach to education  which includes many of the hallmarks of a traditional school including uniforms and addressing teachers by their surnames.  It is committed to providing its students with an excellent academic education that prepares them for professional and personal success. A key part of a Chandler education is the promotion of the values of good citizenship.

 

Arts Studio

Arts Studio

 

Visiting Chandler was a true delight! It is a venerable institution, where a love of learning shines bright among students and staff. Respected for its esteemed academics, it is a contemplative, energetic and beautiful place for kids to accept academic challenges, as well as to learn how to challenge themselves as they grow.

 

Pottery and ceramics

Pottery and ceramics

 

Chandler students go on to 9th grade at a variety of schools, including Polytechnic, Flintridge Preparatory, Mayfield, Harvard-Westlake, St. Francis, Loyola and others.

 

Athletic fields!

Athletic fields!

 

For more information, visit, www.chandlerschool.org

 

They Want To Test My Kid?

 

Photo: Scott Stewart Photography

Photo: Scott Stewart Photography

I’m guest blogging this week at Santa Monica Macaroni Kid, a fabulous resource for parents! The piece is about testing/visiting day, which is part of the private elementary school admissions process at many schools.

 

Also, here’s a piece by Laura over at Hollywood Housewife (one of my favorite blogs). She writes about the ups and downs involved in her preschool search and mentions Beyond The Brochure!

 

Westland School: Proudly Progressive!

Welcome to Westland!

Welcome to Westland!

When I asked Scott Moran, Westland’s head of school, if he would describe Westland as a progressive school, he told me emphatically, “Yes!” Marcia Capparela, Westland’s assistant head of school, echoed his sentiment, adding, “Proudly.”

 

Proudly Progressive. That’s exactly what Westland School is. An excellent progressive K-6th grade located on a scenic, two acre campus along Mulholland in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is an exquisite gem of a school, idyllic and inspiring, with one story buildings which center around a courtyard, omitting the need for indoor hallways. The indoor-outdoor quality gives a spacious, open feeling to the small school.

 

Indoor/outdoor quality defines the campus

Indoor/outdoor quality defines the campus

 

Scott relocated from NYC to become head of Westland last July. He is the dad of a Westland daughter and a two-year old. He’s super-smart, very nice, high energy and down-to-earth. His energy and enthusiasm for the job make you want to join in whatever he’s doing. Marcia is an incredibly friendly and soft-spoken educator whose friendship with my step-mom and co-author, Anne Simon, dates back to their days at Wildwood School. Scott and Marcia’s combined experience brings with it a discerning eye for both the big picture and minute detail.  A dynanic duo, these two top administrators share a love of progressive education, years of combined experience and a strong commitment to the school’s 1949 founding principles.

Outside a classroom building

Outside a classroom building

 

Together with the Westland faculty and staff, Scott and Marcia have set their collective minds on answering the question, What does progressive education look like in the 21st century? Scott articulates some of the central ideas, including collaboration, risk taking and how to pick the best educational concepts and tools that are available now– and in the future. For example, he says, teaching sharing through the use of wooden blocks rather than putting two students on an Ipad and telling them to “share” is just one way to balance progressive concepts with the newest tools. Of course, Westland believes there is a time and place for technology, but it isn’t the best way to teach a 5 year-old the concept of collaboration, Scott points out.

 

A view of the outdoor play area

A view of the outdoor play area

 

A Progressive State Of Mind

Westland defines its educational philosophy as one where teachers are involved in developing and implementing an integrated, hands on social-studies based curriculum. It is a child-centered, non-competitive learning environment that uses experiential learning to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills (Source: Westland literature). One of my favorite aspects of this philosophy is the integrated curriculum, where what is being taught in one class relates to the subject being taught in another class. The non-competitive aspect of the school is perhaps most noticeable in the lack of school sports teams. However, students play sports in local recreation leagues and club teams.

 

Room to move!

Room to move!

 

Scott is refreshingly candid, opening up about many aspects of Westland School. A thought leader who understands the why and how of progressive education, we spent time in his office talking about how Westland strives to stay true to its roots while incorporating 21st century ideas.  The small size of the school (about 131 students total) offers a place where parents are very involved in virtually every part of the school (volunteering is required!) and kids help make things happen too.

 

Group One (K-1)

Group One Classroom

 

Westland uses a unique system to place students in classes. There are six class groups for the seven grade levels K-6. This gives flexibility and a multi-age environment. At one point during their elementary years, students are re-grouped which means that they spend a second year in one group that has been carefully re-configured based on each’s child’s academics, skills, friendships, and other factors. Rather than remain with one group from K-6, re-grouping offers new opportunities for a child’s social and educational growth.

 

The Westland Studio

Woodworking is a signature program at Westland. Learning by doing is a central theme that flows throughout the school and woodworking is a hands-on activity where all students create projects linked to their social studies themes. A full-time teacher/woodworker oversees the projects and through building, designing, sawing, sanding and seeing the final projects come to life, students develop a wide range of skills including math, measuring and design. The finished projects are visible around the school and a lot of them are used for student activities. Kids build houses, neighborhoods, cities and more!

 

Made by students!

Made by students!

Woodshop for the 21st Century!

Woodshop for the 21st Century!

 

A melding of progressive ideas, interpreted for the modern classroom is what sets Westland apart. There is nothing outdated about this school. It is present, ready to leap and bound into the future. A spirited, expansive view of education by its administrators and faculty make the notion of sitting in a classroom exciting by knowing how to tap into the joys of being a kid.

 

Community Sings 

Music is an important program at Westland, where the program includes an array of instruments and voice. Community Sings is a tradition where the entire school comes together for schoolwide sings that showcase school projects and experiences. A Civil Rights sing coincides with the MLK Jr. Holiday. Parents, siblings and friends are welcome to attend these popular gatherings.

 

Westland’s Garden

 

Lauri Kranz, a Westland mom of two and my lovely friend, is the designer/manager of Westland’s gorgeous garden. Lauri is a landscape gardener extraordinaire and one of the coolest people I know. Loyal devotees in the form of parents help Lauri work with students to create “harvest and cook days,” including, Potato Pancake Day, Radish Day and Stir Fry Day. Getting kids to eat vegetables isn’t difficult when they’ve planted, grown and harvested these delightful goodies! She often posts recipes for parents to make at home with their kids.

Urban beauty!

Urban beauty!

Eco-friendly

Eco-friendly

 

Westland uses technology not for the ‘bells and whistles’ effect, but rather as one tool among numerous tools that is introduced gradually into the curriculum. In the early grades, technology is not present in the classroom. However, by ages 8-9, the school uses technology to help kids learn. The school believes kids should be “savvy users of technology not just consumers.” (Source: Westland School).

 

Library

Library

 

Scott pointed out that because Westland’s tuition is in the lowest quarter for L.A. private elementary schools (about $19K per year), it attracts middle-income families. For 2013-14, the amount of financial aid will double. Parents should note that Westland admissions are competitive. The school receives far more applicants than available spaces. This is partly due to the small size of the school and partly due to its enormous popularity.

 

Group 3 classroom

Group 3 classroom

 

Westland is a school where a kid centered sensibility defines its core.  Westland is both offbeat and charming. Splashes of green, one-story buildings and a collection of wooden blocks reveal function and fun. Westland sparkles with imagination. Versatility and confidence, experimentation and creativity are hallmarks of this stellar school. It takes parents and kids on a journey that is a composite of ideas, old and new, bold and understated. It is the ultimate progressive school.

 

Students help care for chickens

Students help care for chickens

For more information, visit, www.westlandschool.org

You can visit Lauri’s website at www.ediblegardensla.com

 

Sierra Canyon School: Majestic Beauty Illuminates Illustrious Tradition

Entrance to Sierra Canyon

 

Take a beautiful campus, a multi-generational connection to one of the visionary founding families and an unyielding focus on academic and athletic prowess and the result is Sierra Canyon, an Early Kindergarten-12th school on two campuses in Chatsworth. I’ve wanted to see the school for several years so I was super-excited when Kendall Pillsbury, Sierra Canyon’s admissions director, invited me to tour the school and have brunch from the delicious Brent’s Deli.

 

Campus view!

Campus view!

 

Arriving at Sierra Canyon requires a short drive along a rural road to the entrance of the lower school, which is extremely private, sitting on 17 acres of classrooms, outdoor play areas and sports fields. The campus is a palette of earth tone, greenery dotted with one-story brown-hued buildings.  The school is currently undergoing a renovation of one of its outdoor spaces and has completed the first phase of its athletic field expansion

 

On a bright, cold morning, I spent about more than an hour talking with three top administrators and touring the school. Sipping coffee with Kendall, Adam Horitz, dean of students and Kristine Theodoratos, lower school director, gave me a thorough sense of the school’s history, philosophy and plans for the future. This is a traditional academic school with an energetic, upbeat ambience tucked away on secluded, spacious grounds.

 

SC Classrooms

One story-classroom and learning buildings give the school a rustic feel

 

Sierra Canyon has some of the L.A’s most experienced educators on its staff Head of School, Jim Skrumbis previously spent 10 years at Marlborough School, as a dean and head of the upper school.  Although I didn’t meet Jim, I learned he has an impressive background (he’s also coached sports and taught history) and the big picture vision to lead the school into the future.

 

Kendall is a warm, bubbly Texan, the mom of three Sierra Canyon students. She’s super-easy to talk to and tries to make the admissions process as accessible and un-intimidating as possible for families.

 

State of Nature: The garden

State of Nature: The garden

 

Sierra Canyon is steeped in family tradition. Adam Horwitz is the connection between the school’s past, present and future. His father (currently a board member) is one of the school’s founding families. Adam, a graduate of the school, is the dean of students and also a father of two Sierra Canyon students. He has been at Sierra Canyon since the beginning, literally (the school opened in 1978). Adam is a genuine, outgoing and dynamic guy who is truly a huge part of the heart and soul of this community school. He is steeped in the school’s history and cares about its roots and future. Keenly attuned to student life, Adam knows all the kids and cares deeply about them.

 

Kristine Theodoratos, who hails from Turing Point School, is the lower school director and also the mom of two Sierra Canyon students. An experienced educator with a calm, friendly demeanor, she discussed the school’s academic approach within the kindergarten and lower school. Sierra Canyon, she explained is a traditional school with a developmental twist. Beginning in kindergarten, the school utilizes what it calls “Like Learner Groups.” These include: On Grade, On Grade Enriched and Above Grade. These groups are fluid and kids may move between the groups within a school year, depending on their needs. There is also a gifted teaching specialist who pulls out highly gifted kids for math. Starting next year, the kids will wear uniforms. Sierra Canyon utilizes the well-known “Character Counts” program, which ties directly into the school’s theme, Excellence Is Its Own Reward.

 

A kindergarten classroom

A kindergarten classroom

Get ready for kindergarten!

Get ready for kindergarten!

 

Sierra Canyon’s educators are both in their comfort zone and always looking for new ways to innovate, whether its in the area of curriculum, technology, facilities or any aspect of the school.  Smart Boards and a computer lab comprise the basis for elementary school technology education.

 

Hitting a high note in the music room

Hitting a high note in the music room

 

Ethnic and socioeconomic diversity is another of the school’s assets (about 39 percent of the student body). And, I saw diversity among the faculty and staff too. Approximately 15 percent of the school’s budget is designated for financial aid. Families attending the school live in 95 different zip codes!

 

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Rendering of athletic field renovation

Rendering of athletic field renovation

 

I was extremely impressed to learn that Head of School, Jim Skrumbis, accompanies upper school students on one of the Civil Rights tours in Alabama. This is the first school I’ve encountered that takes this trip. When my kids are older, we plan to visit this take this same trip.

 

Sierra Canyon’s high school is 5 years old and on a separate campus. It has already distinguished itself with college acceptances to a variety of top schools including, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Yale and this year an Early Decision to Harvard for one student.

 

Library!

Library!

 

Sierra Canyon takes its cues from its understated past and blends that legacy with a 21st century focus on academic excellence, diversity and sports. The pristine beauty of the school is a nostalgic reminder of a time when kids could be kids. It’s a place you want to linger and explore. And that’s exactly what the students at Sierra Canyon do!

 

Art studio

Art studio!

 

I was excited to see Sierra Canyon and to offer it a chance to take a solo turn in the spotlight on this blog!

 

One last, lingering look...

Kid-friendly!

For more information, please visit, www.sierracanyonschool.org

 

Friday Links, Events, Musings…

 

After a bike ride at the beach, the car ride home

This week has been a moving-way-too-fast five days. My kids went back to school at The Willows on Monday after Winter Break. I’ve been visiting new schools to profile for the blog, writing a guest post on how schools assess kids and trying to keep up with everything, which for me means making sure we don’t run out of coffee!

 

I’m participating in my first online journaling class run by one of my favorite photojournalist/author/bloggers, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks.  The topic is Create 2013! The first prompt is: Make An Awesome List of 2012. Wow! I love being able to think, write and select my favorite 2012 memories as a starting place! I know this course will inspire me to be the best mom, wife, friend, writer I can possibly be. To be more self-forgiving, to live in the moment, to remember that good intentions count and to be truly grateful, are all things I need to focus on. Maybe some of you can relate?

 

We have my husband, Barry’s, aunt and uncle coming to town this weekend from Philadelphia and I can’t wait. I love brunch at Factor’s or Nate and Al’s, shopping at The Grove, movies, cooking dinner and just hanging out with them.

 

Here are a few pics from our Winter Break…we were here in L.A. and loved every minute of it (except when we went to LACMA and I had dripping wet hair and hadn’t eaten lunch). Still, the Ken Price exhibit was pretty fabulous!

 

Finding the perfect photo box for my vintage family photos…yes, me in college at U.C. Berkeley counts as vintage! I love old photos.

My daughter helped me get ready to have a few friends over for New Year’s Day. Simple appetizers, Hoppin’ John and football…

Bring on 2013!

And, a few interesting events and links for your reading pleasure…

  • Betsy Brown Braun: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Here I come!  Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. A framework for observing, assessing, and choosing an elementary school will be presented at this seminar. Private and public schools in the City and the Valley will be discussed along with the application process, school visits, interviews, and a timeline for applications. For more information, click HERE.

 

  • More upcoming events HERE

 

  • In private elementary school news, Paula Dashiell, head of school at Echo Horizon School in Culver City will retire at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Assistant head of school, Martha Schuur will serve as acting head until a permanent replacement is named.

 

  • Getting involved in fundraising at your school? Here’s an interview with author Sarah Barrett about her book, A Mom’s Guide To School Fundraising and some tips that can help you successfully raise money on Supermommynot.com

 

  • Center For Early Education: Public Event: Parent Education Evening: Media Boundaries and Mindfulness (tentative title) Dr. Larry Rosen, Tuesday, April 9, 2013 / 7:00 p.m.,CEE Community Center. More information about the program is coming soon.  In the meantime, visit Dr. Rosen’s website to learn more about his work. Or, visit, www.centerforearlyeducation.org

 

 

  • My friend, Lauri Kranz, designs and oversees gardens for Willows and Westland Schools and private residential and commercial clients. Check out her gorgeous blog at Edible Gardens LA. 

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend!

Christina

 

 

Pilgrim School: Watch Out World!

Welcome to Pilgrim School!

My first introduction to the Pilgrim School was during my job as a senior legislative staffer for L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (then a City Councilman and former Pilgrim dad). I hired an intern who was a Stanford freshman and a Pilgrim alumni. R. turned out to be one of the most gifted writers I’d ever worked with. R. stunned me when she turned in her first assignment. She had the writing and analytic skills of someone with far more experience. And, she was awesome to work with. Professional beyond her years, she came back to intern with us for a second summer before completing her degree. I was thrilled (but not surprised) to learn she now has a high-level job at Stanford.

 

Pulling into the Pilgrim School parking lot on a recent morning, I was awed by the beautiful main building. It is majestic, set back off the street, serving as a wonderful welcome to the school. The Pilgrim campus sets the tone for its location in the Wilshire Circle neighborhood, just east of Hancock Park. In the midst of a bustling, vibrant area, the campus is pretty and spacious, offering a location that is accessible to families from Hancock Park, Silverlake, Koreatown, Los Feliz, Downtown, West Adams and Mid-Wilshire. It is, “A city school,” says Pilgrim.

 

A view from the front of the campus

 

Patricia Kong is the vivacious, friendly admissions director and mom of a Pilgrim preschooler. She introduced me to Dr. Mark Brooks, head of school, and we sat down in his office to talk about the school. Dr. Brooks (Mark) is a powerhouse of intellect and personality, a true tour-de-force. He’s an outgoing, charismatic former law partner who became Pilgrim’s head of school eight years ago. Sitting in Mark’s office we chatted about Pilgrim and the world of L.A. private schools. Mark’s legal background serves the school well. As he puts it, his former job was one where, “People returned my calls right away.” His well-connected gravitas, along with that of the school’s board of directors, has meant that Pilgrim is a mix of both very affluent and celebrity families and those who receive financial aid. Mark has fundraised voraciously to bring new resources to the school, including its newest pride and joy, the Brown Family Fine Arts Center.

 

Dr. Brooks' story time with kids (Source: Pilgrim)

 

Being around Mark is like having coffee with an old friend. His laughter is infectious and the conversation flows easily from topic to topic. He wears many hats, including as a dad of a former Pilgrim student. Pilgrim truly reflects the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of Los Angeles. Taking about Pilgrim, it is evident that Mark is a master at understanding what a widely diverse group of kids need.  His commitment to the kids in his charge speaks volumes. As he told me, “Some of our kids won’t begin their careers with the connections to open doors and will need to cold-call throughout their lives. It is my job to ensure they are prepared academically and socially for that challenge.” This is a profound statement because it demonstrates an understanding of how the world of work operates and what it takes to achieve career success.  Mark’s commitment to the kids’ success in life speaks volumes about his real-world experience as a lawyer and he’s putting those skills to work on behalf of Pilgrim students.

 

Get ready for Kindergarten!

Kindergarten classroom interior

 

The Kindergarten program is a melding of learning and fun…of tradition and creativity. The elementary program offers writing, math, sports, music, the arts, technology and science. Beginning in fourth grade, students take field trips to Catalina, Joshua Tree, Yosemite and of course, the school’s 270 acre camp in Big Bear at Cedar Lake. Key aspects of the elementary program include learning, empathy, social awareness and fostering a sense of belonging. Community service—a wide variety of meaningful school and student initiated programs—are a graduation requirement and begin in elementary school.

 

Pilgrim is a traditional school with a commitment to educating the whole child. Technology (ipads, Smartboards, electronic textbooks and laptops) play as important a role as the arts. The school has a Visiting Artists and Writers Program where highly acclaimed authors like Lisa See, Erick Larson and Jane Smiley are among many who have spent time at the school leading discussions with the kids and faculty.

 

Let's read!

 

A certain intellectualism defines the school’s culture. Lacking snobbery, this culture makes it cool to be smart and well read. Never precious or contrived, the school creates a cool-kid college prep environment with a touch of warmth and just the right amount of casualness.

 

Founded in 1958, the current day Pilgrim is the embodiment of Mark’s hard work and his remarkable personal qualities. He does it all with his signature mix of intelligence, humor and skillful relationship building. Whether it is recruiting top teachers or working with students and faculty to achieve the school’s 100 percent college acceptance rate, Mark and his team have created a learning environment that evokes an atmosphere of serious study within a small, community oriented school. Both modern and traditional, Pilgrim transcends hype and instead focuses on the big picture, which is to offer a solid foundation in academics and a strong moral code within a mildly religious school (Pilgrim was founded by the First Congregational Church in L.A.) Once a month, students K-12th grade attend chapel to focus on topics ranging from patience to gratitude.

 

Musical notes...

 

Music is an important part of the curriculum. The day I visited, as Patricia showed me the 2nd floor, the sound of exquisite music filled the room. She explained that the upper school student who was playing the organ had received requests to teach other students the instrument (which requires a high degree of difficulty) and had agreed to help them learn to play the organ.

 

Less is more at Pilgrim, except when it comes to the new Fine Arts Center! There, more is more and that’s a good thing. The enormous, light-filled space is a place where students learn and create: painting, sculpture, visual arts and ceramics, among other artistic endeavors.

 

Brown Family Fine Arts Center (Source: Pilgrim)

Created by students

Student art decorates a hallway

 

There are 140 students in the elementary school, providing small classes and a student/teacher ratio of 11:1. The average class size is 12 students.

 

The gym

 

Pilgrim School is a vibrant, inspiring school that is small in size and rich in human and educational resources. With support from The Ahmanson Foundation and The E.E. Ford Foundation among other sources, the school is able to offer significant financial aid and scholarships.  It is both traditional and spirited, a warm and wonderful place to spend a morning with the indomitable Dr. Mark Brooks and his staff.

 

Pilgrim School is hosting an Open House for prospective families (preschool-12th) on Sat. Jan. 12, 2013 at 10 a.m. For more information, visit, www.pilgrim-school.org

Wordless Weekend: Name That Private Elementary School-5 (Pics and Hints Provided!)

Located in the center of Pacific Palisades, this TK-6 has both traditional and developmental elements, built a new arts/athletic facility in 2007 and has a values program based on the Josephson Institute of Ethics model.

 

A traditional, college-prepratory Preschool-12th, this school is mildly religious, located East of Hancock Park and is one of the most diverse private schools in the city. It also has a very dynamic and impressive Head Of School.

 

Progressive, K-6, located in the Valley and written about by one of our guest bloggers who is a very happy parent there.

 

Called one of the "hottest" schools in town by an insider, this school is known for strong academics and a gorgeous garden. Located in the Valley.

If you can name a school, leave a comment! Check the comments in a few days for the answers.

 

Preschool Admissions: Panel and Fair: Jan. 26th!

My good friends at Club Mom Me and Launch Education Group are hosting this awesome event! I’ll be there to support! My daughter’s former preschool, Montessori Shir-Hashirim, is among the schools participating in the Fair. They have two campuses and I think the world of our first private school experience there!