5 Facts About Progressive Schools by PrivateSchool Review.com

Here’s a general primer on 5 aspects of progressive schools that differentiate them from traditional schools. Of course, many progressive schools create their own educational curriculum which differs slightly from these 5 points, but this list can be helpful to understand what progressive schools are all about. It also discusses the history of progressive schools.

“1. Most progressive schools don’t issue report cards.

Professor John Dewey disliked the notion of children sitting in rigid rows listening to a teacher, memorizing facts and regurgitating those facts on command. Dr. Dewey felt that students needed to learn by doing. Implicit in this philosophy of education is an aversion to testing and report cards. You will monitor your child’s progress in other ways. Instead of receiving a document with traditional grades such as A’s and B’s you will receive a reporting detailing your child’s achievments in a variety of areas which the school feels are important.” –PrivateSchoolReview.com

To continue reading, click on www.privateschoolreview.com

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Seven Arrows Elementary School Hires New Admissions Director

Fiona Farrahi

Dear Esteemed Colleagues & Friends,

As you may know, I have made the difficult decision to leave Seven Arrows at the end of this school year. After a decade in my current position working in a job I’ve loved, I feel it’s time to explore other professional possibilities and commitments. It has been a pleasure and privilege to have worked with you over the years, and I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to cross paths with you in a new capacity and continue to stay in touch. Thank you for your partnership and friendship.

Without further ado, I am delighted to introduce you to Fiona Farrahi, Seven Arrows’ new director of admissions. Fiona joins us from Chicago’s Ancona School where she has been a key member of the strategic senior administration since 2010. As the school’s director of external affairs, Fiona is an independent school leader with hands on experience in admissions, enrollment management, marketing, and communications. In addition to her outstanding work experience, Fiona has also demonstrated her ability for leadership and retention through her work with open houses, tours, external marketing events and programs, and social media management. She is a member of the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals and an active member in the Chicago and Lake Shore independent school community.

Most importantly (and as is aligned with our Seven Arrows vision), Fiona understands the power of authentic and trusting relationships, and her approach to admissions is human-centric. In fact, she is very much looking forward to building her own meaningful connections with you and your school communities. She will be reaching out in the summer and fall to introduce herself and begin visiting all the phenomenal preschools LA’s Westside has to offer.

Sonja Carlson
Sonja Carlson

Fiona will be joined by Sonja Carlson in the admissions office as our new admission associate. Sonja joined the Seven Arrows community in 2014 and is excited to transition into her new role after two years as the communications & enrichment manager. In her short time with us, she has proven herself invaluable to the organization. Sonja moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of San Francisco after completing her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in American Studies & Media Studies. She loves baking, dancing, and exploring new neighborhoods by foot.

Please feel free to reach out to Fiona and Sonja any time. Have a wonderful summer.


With gratitude,
Omid Kheiltash

See Beyond The Brochure’s School Profile of Seven Arrows here. or visit Seven Arrows School here.

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    In Beyond The Brochure: An Insider's Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles, we provide copies of real written applications from kids who got into top L.A. private elementary schools. The kid in the sample application below got into 4 very competitive schools for kindergarten.  If you're like me, it really helps to see…
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Academic Achievers’ Secondary School Admissions Event w/ Sandy Eiges-June 25

Private School Event-Sandy Eiges

To RSVP for June 25th event, click on info@Academicachievers.com or visit the website at www.academicachievers.com/isee

Don’t miss a thing! Follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook.



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    Hi Everyone, Please join me for this L.A. private elementary and middle school event! It is free but you must RSVP to Janis at info@academicachievers.com  Hope to see you there! Christina 
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Why A Private School’s Culture REALLY Matters

VP Soccer 2016


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably read my posts about “school culture” or a school’s vibe. That’s because I think it is one of the most important things to know about L.A. private schools. Ideally, you’ll learn as much about the school’s culture as possible before you enroll your kid. Figuring out what a school is really all about–not just what they want you to see–isn’t always easy. Unless you have a close friend at the school or know someone who works there, it can be difficult to figure out what a school is really like for kids and for their parents.

So many factors go into creating the culture of the school. Some of these things are accidental or subjective, others are carefully planned and cultivated. Things like geography or location, school size, school leadership, age of the school, educational philosophy can all influence a school’s culture.

When we were choosing an elementary school, the things I cared the most about were finding a sense of community at our school and the quality of the education. I didn’t care whether parents worked in a certain industry or if kids were interested in becoming movie stars. It was important to me to find parents who felt the school was an extension of their community and treated it that way. I hoped to find families with similar interests to our own. I didn’t want a commuter school, a place where parents dropped off their kids and avoided other families whenever possible. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience at The Willows.

So, what can you look for to figure out whether a school’s culture will be right for your family? I say family because when you’re dropping off your 6 year-old at somebody’s house, you need to feel comfortable. If the family’s nanny opens the door to let your kid in, without even inviting you inside and the mom is nowhere to be found, this isn’t the kind of community I’m talking about. A sense of belonging can only happen if the school helps facilitate a sense of community. It’s not enough for a school to assume parents will meet each other eventually. L.A. is too big and fragmented for that to happen. If the school takes that approach, it will take a lot longer to schedule playdates or plan a mom’s night out…possibly even years. After all, are you going to go down the roster and start cold-calling? I don’t think so!

I’ve been candid about the fact that the culture of The Willows School was wrong for my family. The school’s culture, in my experience, wasn’t friendly or inviting. Instead, it was kind of like a commuter school where parents dropped off their kids and left. The lack of community left me wishing for a true community school, one where parents were friendly and cared about the school community rather than just the people they already knew. Scheduling playdates was difficult. For the most part, a lot of parents weren’t interested. Or, they’d cancel or flake at the last minute, leaving me to explain to my kids what happened. Board members and the head of school strutted through the halls speaking only to other parents they deemed “worthy.” The head of school created a board and top staff filled with unqualified or marginally qualified cronies. No issue was too small for them to micro-manage. Any issue that negatively impacted them or their friends was ignored, shoved under the rug. The offending complainant was snubbed, considered disloyal. Volunteering there was one of the most unprofessional experiences of my entire life. Screaming matches between parents, stony silence, an absence of staff to demand professionalism from volunteers. I’m not blameless. This all brought out the worst in me. I shouted back. I stopped speaking. This type of culture, I might add, starts at the top with the school’s leadership. It is a cultivated way of behaving, not a mere one-time oversight. As my husband, Barry, pointed out, “A fish rots from the head.”

In contrast, Viewpoint School is professional, friendly and expects parents to behave in a civilized manner. This culture fits my family so much better. We appreciate and respect the school for creating an environment where if I email a parent I don’t know personally, he or she will most likely respond. I would have never thought something like this would matter until I didn’t have it.

So, how can you discern what a school is really like from the outside?

  • Ask around. How do parents get to know each other when they’re new? Are there school welcoming events? Host families? Probe further. Do most of the families come from the same preschool? Will your kid be entering a class filled with more than fifty percent siblings? If so, how will you and your kid schedule playdates or get-togethers?
  • Look at the school’s events on the website. If the events don’t appeal to you, think carefully about how they reflect the culture of the school. Do the events scream “status?” If so, look for schools where the vibe is more low-key… a camping trip or something more accessible.
  • Schools have a reputation for a reason. When somebody tells you the school is “country club” or “entertainment industry” or “rich-hippie” it’s because that’s what most of the families are like, influencing the school’s culture. If that’s not you, think about whether it will work for your family.
  • Look at the school’s annual report. It will tell you a lot about the school’s priorities, financial aid and categories of giving.
  • Examine the qualifications of the head of school, the board and the next level of administrative staff. Do they bring professional skills? Or, do they appear as if they are there because they are friends with the head of school? This has implications for whether issues like bullying are handled fairly or with favoritism. Every private schools needs trust fund families on the board, but there should also be real estate experts, lawyers, finance people, educators and others with specific skill sets.
  • Figure out if the school draws from a wide geographic area or from just one or two communities. This has implications for everything from playdates to volunteering and finding your community.
  • Go to as many school events as possible. Pay close attention to the annual fundraiser and where it is held, ticket prices, the number of events held at country clubs or exclusive locations. These all give you an idea of what the school values.

Ultimately, what you see is sometimes not what you get. And then, there’s that school where what you see really is exactly what you get. Hopefully, you find the latter. Like we have at Viewpoint School.


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Kindergarten and Secondary School Fairs-May 2016

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 8.10.48 AMHi Everyone!

There are two private (independent) school fairs in May 2016.

The expert Sandy Eiges of LA School Scout gives a great overview below of what to expect when you attend a kindergarten or secondary school fair. If you’re just getting started with your school search, these events can help you gather information all in once place–Christina


Yes, it’s that time of year, when parents’ thoughts turn to – their kids’ educational future. Here to help you is the Los Angeles Association of Independent Schools (LAAIS), which holds “fairs” twice a year, both in the fall and the spring. If you’re contemplating applying to schools for admission in 2015, you can get a glimpse of the variety of schools out there now. Wait until the fall Kindergarten fair, and you’ll be part of a frenzied mob, feeling like you’ve already missed the boat (and for the schools with early application deadlines, you will have).

This year the Kindergarten Fair is on May 5, 2016, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., at Wise School, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. You don’t need to RSVP. What you do need to do is a little bit of homework, to determine which schools you’re truly interested in exploring. If time permits you’ll be able to visit more, but always better to have a plan in hand. Also note that not all private schools belong to Los Angeles Area Independent Schools; in general, you won’t find the Catholic schools represented here, for example, or any of the Pasadena schools, which have their own event. But certainly all of the 32 Los Angeles Area Independent Schools member schools will attend.

Is this an opportunity to discuss your child and what you’re looking for in a school? Absolutely not. In fact, you should not bring your child. I repeat, do not bring any children to this event. It is crowded and loud, they will just contribute to the noise, and no one will be interested in meeting your child here. It’s a fair, and you’ll have an opportunity to meet some lovely directors of admission, who act as ambassadors for their schools; and ask some critical and specific questions, about structure, about the curriculum, financial aid, etc. They will encourage you to sign up for a tour or an Open House, and you should do so if you’re interested in the school.

By the way, every year different schools host these fairs – and the host school is just that, a host. While the event might afford you a glimpse of their parking and part of the campus, the fair is not a campus tour.

I repeat – this is an opportunity to meet some of the people involved with the school you might be interested in, so take advantage of it. It is not an opportunity to tour the campus or have them meet your child – that will happen when and if you decide to apply.

Each school has a table, with materials about the school, and at least one member of the admissions team. Once you’ve made the rounds of the schools you’ve heard of or are interested in – all the same “big name” schools all of your friends and neighbors are talking about – if time permits I would encourage you to explore some other schools and see what they have to offer. You might be very pleasantly surprised. Los Angeles has a wide variety of independent schools, ranging from traditional to progressive and everything in-between.

There is also a Secondary School Fair, on May 3, 2016 from 6:30PM – 8:00PM at Curtis School, 15871 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. This fair is for parents of students entering either 6th, 7th or 9th grade in 2015. Some secondary schools start at 6th; some at 7th. Unlike neighborhood public schools, private middle schools that start at 6th or 7th generally go straight through high school. They may open up some additional spots in 9th grade, but not many; their real entry point is middle school.

The secondary school fair is somewhat different from the Kindergarten Fair. Yes, there will be tables out for all of the schools, and you will get to visit them both before and after the “main event,” that being breakout workshops given by the schools where you can learn more about individual schools in depth. There will be more of a presentation – which is good, since most upper school open houses are going to take place in late fall, and you’re dying for more information now.

Here it is worth doing your homework in advance, going online to determine which schools you are truly interested in, so you can get to their workshop. Generally speaking you can attend 2 workshops, so you can learn more in-depth about those schools. As mentioned earlier, you can still visit many more of the tables and meet the directors of admission at some of the other schools as well.

Since there will also be another fair in the fall, you will be able to attend another 2 workshops then. Secondary school applications are due later than those for Kindergarten, so you have ample time to explore your options between now and next fall.

As mentioned earlier, this is not a place to bring your middle or upper school student. They will have an opportunity to attend an Open House at these schools next fall.

Thoroughly overwhelmed and confused about which schools might be a good fit for your child? I am now scheduling school consultations for September 2017 admissions. Please contact Sandy Eiges at sandy@LAschoolscout.com, or 310 926 0050. www.laschoolscout.com


Keep up to date with all the L.A. private school happenings. Like Beyond The Brochure on Facebook!

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